An Open Letter to My Body

Dear Body,
Where do I start? I could begin with the reality that despite everything, good, bad, thick or thin, you have always been there. Though I am sure that if you had a choice you would have left years ago, and after some of the things I have said and done to you, I would not have blamed you. For a long time I behaved like a spoilt, ungrateful brat, living with a sense of entitlement, and expectation that at times was unrealistic or disproportionate to the effort and work that I was putting into the situation. I was not compassionate in regards to the hard work and effort that you continually expelled to make my life possible. On your behalf I have to say that you have never let me down. I may have let myself down in not doing all that was required to have, or to be what I wanted, but you stalwartly plugged along handling every, and any task I set before you.

I write to you today to apologize for, and to explain (though I am sure that you already know, as you are the more authentic and intuitive part of us) what I have put you through. I make no excuses, I take the responsibility for the physical, emotional and spiritual pain I have caused you throughout our years together. I could blame it on youth or outside influences and that would be true, but then again you already know that because you have been there through it all. However I feel that would be a cop out. I am here to take responsibility for my actions and non- actions. I am no longer a child, I am a freethinking, independent woman, and I am doing my work. This you also know as you have been there as I have matured and grown into a greater understanding and appreciation of myself, and for you as a form. When I think back to the times when I cursed you, did not talk to you, could not bare to look at you, the times when I was ashamed of you and more ashamed to be seen in you I am sadden. For that I am sorry. Though harsh words got us here, I know that there are no words that can be uttered or written that can undo the damage that has been done. They stay like welted brands on the parchment of our soul, to be carried with us, all the days of our life. I only hope you can forgive me.

Where I should have been awed by your majesty and perfection in the constant rigors of the involuntary actions you perform: heart-beating, respiration, blinking, the sensory factors you house and manage, not to mention mastication, defecation, and all the other “ations” on top of all of that I actually asked you to turn-out, plié, jump, pirouette, and battement, and without complaint, and for the most part a great deal of alacrity you did it! I could feel that dance was a joy to you; it felt good to move through space with the music, with a sense of mastery and physical understanding. It was in those moments that we were both at our best. The feeling of a grande jeté, the sensation of turning (though it was always unnerving to me) was wondrous, there is nothing in the world that feels as divine and delicious as a beautiful adagio. When we danced we felt beautiful, and complete, that is until I looked in the mirror and the image reflected did not resemble the feeling of beauty I felt in my soul, and because there was no one else, nothing else to blame, I took it out on you. My thighs were too thick, my butt too big, my feet not good enough, I was not pretty, or I did not look like her (whomever she was). Suddenly almost without warning the spirit that just moments ago had taken glorious flight was now grounded in the corner, cowering beneath the mental verbal lashing I unleashed.

My Body, my Body, because you are resilient and much more compassionate then I could ever be, with incomprehensible grace and dignity you rose, undefeated and determined to be better, you took the floor again, and again and again. Whether it was an effort to prove that I was wrong about us, the desire to show me my own beauty, or just the only way you knew how to keep us alive, you consistently reached for those fleeting moments of joy and abandon through movement, even though you knew that in the end you would undoubtedly pay for your effort. Yes I know that I was not alone in this process but let me finish… I was, I am your keeper. I should have protected you, honored you and respected you more or enough to, when possible shield or sooth you from outward attacks, and I most certainly should not have joined in on the bullying.

Seldom have I thanked you. Seldom have I acknowledged that you were consistent and trustworthy. Instead of praising you for your strength and power I chastised you for looking too strong, it never occurred to me that I was rarely sick or injured because of your strength. I let others tell me things about you, I believed the horrible things they said and instead of coming to your defense, I bought into their beliefs and made them my own.

Oh I wish that you had a voice, one independent of my own, perhaps then I would have known more quickly what tyranny I was forcing you to live under. Instead you, like a child worked harder for my acceptance, to please me, to be better, to be what I wanted to be. Never did you suspect that it was a fruitless endeavor for there would never be any pleasing me, because the problem was not with you as my Body, the problem was in my head. The problem was me.

So I now beg forgiveness from you publicly, I feel that this is fitting as I publicly defamed, disparaged, degraded and like Judas betrayed you. If you could find it in your heart to accept my apology I would ask that we (as much as possible) wipe the slate clean and begin anew. I will promise to take care of you, honor you, accept, appreciate, respect and support you going forward. I know there is a lot of water under the bridge, I thoroughly expect there to be some things that may be forgiven but cannot be forgotten, and some damage is irreparable this I understand, but I am asking if we can try again. I would not blame you if you did not trust my words but you know the integrity of my intention. I cannot promise perfection, but I can promise my sincere effort. I will assuredly make more mistakes but I vow to be better. I know that it is a lot to contemplate, take your time think it over and let me know. I will be here when you want to talk. I am telling you that from this day forward I am listening, for I now realize that you do have a voice, I am that voice, I speak for you and you for me. I want you to be heard, and I want to hear.

Most humbly,


Copyright ©2011 Theresa Ruth Howard/My Body My Image

4 thoughts on “An Open Letter to My Body”

  1. So beautiful and real it was honestly hard to read. I’m sharing this with all of my students immediately. Thank you!

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