An Exercise in Self-Love
I have been at war with my body for most of my life. My first memory is from middle school–I was rail thin and desperately wanted curves and boobs like all the popular girls. I remember getting down on my knees and praying to God to give me curves. Then came high school and college, and I was never thin enough–I did diet after diet after diet. Losing weight, then gaining it back. Losing weight, then gaining it back. My worthiness as a person became all about my weight. I equated being thin with being worthy. I was in constant pursuit of the perfect body, and it was never enough.
My obsession with my body resulted in a lifetime of emptiness, shallowness and selfishness. I was constantly searching outside myself for love and fulfillment. If I wasn’t skinny, who was I? If I gained weight that meant I was unlovable, and at the very core of it, that I would end up alone. I tried avoiding aloneness and unworthiness through exercise, diets and weight loss. I even had a 10-year Adderall addiction to manage my weight. It was a terrible way to live. And all the while, demonizing my body and wishing it was always something else.
I’m 4.5 years sober now, and it’s only been in the last 6 months that I’ve started turning a corner on my body image. I’ve learned to let go of diet culture. I currently weigh the most I’ve ever weighed, and for the first time in my life, I don’t hate myself. I am letting go of the pressure to make my body something it isn’t. Being small doesn’t make me worthy. I make me worthy. I still have a long way to go in terms of body love, but that’s part of being a human–we are always growing and progressing on our journey back home to ourselves. As part of this process, I decided to write a letter to my body. It’s real and raw and vulnerable. And most importantly, it was healing. Here you go.
You have done so much for me. You have carried me through all the seasons of my life–you have healed me when I treated you with disrespect–through my many diets, my 10-year addiction, my disordered eating–and yet, you have always been there for me. I’ve abandoned you, but you have not abandoned me. I’m sorry for not loving you as you are–for wanting you to be smaller and different. When I wanted you to be different, when I abandoned you, when I used food and substances to numb my feelings– through all of this, you never once abandoned me. You’ve healed me when I’ve been sick. You’ve been a signal to me when something is wrong or when I need to trust my intuition. I thought disconnecting from you would save me from feeling pain, but, that disconnection is what caused my pain. My lack of love for you has been the source of my pain. The farther away I am from you, means the farther away I am from me. And yet, there has been some false security in hating you. There has been some false armor I’m using to protect myself. To truly love you would mean I need to stop looking outside myself for love –and that’s uncomfortable for me. I’ve been using this hate to keep me from pain and loneliness, and rejection–but, this hate keeps me in pain and loneliness, and I end up rejecting myself. I’ve spent so much time rejecting you–why can’t I just accept you? Why can’t I stop comparing you to other bodies? Why can’t I see you as others see you? Loving you is my way to unconditional love, freedom, fun, sensuality, intimacy, true pleasure, connection and success. Loving you IS the way. I want to love you. I want to stop rejecting you. I want to accept you as you are– in all your beauty, strength and imperfections. I’m ready to remove the false armor. I’m ready to love you so that I can love others, and they can love me. I’m ready to let real love in. I’m ready for freedom. I’m ready to look in the mirror and see your beautiful reflection. I’m ready to appreciate you so others can appreciate you. I’m ready to feel comfortable in my own skin. My body is a temple and I’m ready to treat it as such. No more negative talk and feelings toward you. No more dieting, restricting, binging and self-loathing. I’m ready to start practicing love. I’m ready to trust you. YOU ARE WORTHY OF LOVE. Thank you for always being there for me. I’m ready to be there for you.
Love always, Vitale