An Apology Letter to My Body

By Jenna DePinto

We have a difficult relationship. I am writing to tell you I am sorry. There were many times I wanted to tell you, comfort you, listen to what you had to say. Until now, at this point in my life, I haven’t been able to apologize or appreciate you.

From the time I was young you were always there for me. I didn’t think about you much. Later I would obsess over you. In the beginning, you were just there. You helped me get from one place to the other. You fed me. You grew me. You were there when I hit home-runs and fielded speedy softballs as they just sort of landed in my worn-in softball mitt. You were there when I didn’t understand how we were changing. When I felt like I didn’t fit in. When I felt scared.

You were there when I learned how to walk and learned how to connect with family and friends. You were there for all the BIG THINGS, like school, competitions, and travels around the world. You helped me be brave and believe in myself. You were there when I met my guy. THE ONE. You trained and ran marathons with me, stood by as I succeeded in my education, got up to go to work every day, met all my beloved students, and had my perfect little babies.

I loved to learn about you and how you operate. I must say, you are amazing and I can’t believe how you keep it all going every day. Wake up, do it again. Every day. All this time. No matter what I put you through or what was going on throughout my life. Every. Single. Day. You are and always were a blessing. I just didn’t always see it or feel it.

hand holding a paper heartI’ve changed over and over again throughout these 41 years, and sadly, I ignored you most of the time. The youthful and carefree days gave way to decades of turmoil between us. You became this sort of enemy of mine. I started to despise you and feel disappointed by you. At times, I couldn’t even bare to look at you. Our relationship broke and we became distant.

I never sat around and thought about all the ways you supported me every day. I guess I took you for granted and just thought you would always be with me; working, moving, healthy. I didn’t sit around thinking about ways I could support YOU. Yes, YOU. The one who was and is always here. Instead, I contemplated all the ways you failed me.

I started thinking about you obsessively, and all the ways you make me feel embarrassed and ashamed. I could never, since those carefree, youthful days, accept you the way you are. I’d pick you apart with my eyes while having an inner dialogue of how disgusting you are and how disappointed I am in you. You are fat, ugly, short, dimply, jiggly, weak, soft, pathetic. You don’t look good enough to even leave your house. When you walk into a room everyone else is thinking the same things I am about you.

It’s so obvious that you eat too much and that you don’t eat the right food. You definitely don’t work hard enough at the gym. Even your family can’t stand the sight of you. You have one redeeming quality. You have a nice smile, but lord knows we haven’t seen that in forever. You think you’re an athlete, but there is nothing extraordinary about your athleticism. You are average. You haven’t done much with your life. You are so ordinary. Worse than ordinary. You have zero control over yourself.

I would change so many things about you if you’d let me. So many things. I question why you do what you do, and why you don’t do what I want you to. I try to manipulate you on a daily basis, as if to fool you into giving me what I want. Like I have some kind of power over you. When you wouldn’t do what I wanted I would escape to drugs and alcohol, and all the people you didn’t want me befriending. I’d behave in abusive ways and do harmful things. I didn’t want to have to think about you.

If you were better, perfect even, then maybe, just maybe I would have a shot at being happy. It’s because of you that I am not. It’s because of you that I don’t feel good enough. It’s because of you that I, at times in my life, wanted to die. That’s right. Because of you, there are days when I think this world and everyone and everything in it would be better off without me AND you. But the fact is, you and I are one. We are in this together. Life is hard. And only you are strong enough to keep me going every day.

I am so very sorry I’ve abused you for so long. I’ve kept you prisoner in the torture chamber of my mind. I kept you hidden away from friends and family. I isolated you from all who loved and cared for you. On days when I felt you weren’t worthy, I didn’t feed you. On days when you took too much because I had starved you, I worked you to the bone, running for miles and miles until you just couldn’t keep up. The guilt was overwhelming, but I just couldn’t stop.

On those days when you took too much I couldn’t even look at you, and if I did I felt ashamed. I broke you and tore you up, and just figured you’d take it. You tried to tell me over and over again. You practically screamed at me, begging for care, and I just ignored you. Still you were there. Strong. Resilient. You told me to rest, and I worked harder. You told me to eat, and I pretended not to hear you.

There were so many times I felt you let me down, but really you are the reason I’ve gotten this far in my life. My failures are not YOUR fault. You were always protecting me. My fractures and tears and dizzy spells were you trying to talk to me. I couldn’t remember my words or details of previous days. I lost my possessions constantly. I forgot appointments. I felt an exhaustion so severe it was in my bones. I went from doctor to doctor searching for answers, but if I had just listened to you, you had the answers all along. Eventually, I got so good at ignoring you that I didn’t hear you at all.

These are the terrible thoughts I’ve had about you over the decades. I am changing my mind about you during my intense recovery process. I’ve been thinking about you a lot. I want to tell you how grateful I am for you. I want to tell you I am sorry.

To the body I was born with and that has woken up with me every single day since that very first, I want to tell you I am woke. I hear you, and I am sorry. You have the cutest of feet, always manicured. Your ankle bones are prominent and strong. Your legs have carried me to the craziest of places and back. I still look at that scar on your knee. Remember that time I tried to ride a big bike when I was way too little? I love that scar.

The curves of your thighs lead to some more scars of surgeries in the past. Those are subtle reminders of how hard I worked you. They have faded over time. That tiny little pelvis that gave way to my two beautiful babies; well, I love that pelvis. Your breasts fed and grew them to the extraordinary little humans they are today. I promise to show my children how to care for their bodies so they don’t make the same mistakes I have.

Your heart and lungs were pushed to their limits many times over the decades, and still they are strong, working, healthy. I love your collar bone and how it pokes out along your neckline into your round, strong shoulders. Your smile, your perfect nose, your round blushed cheeks, your twinkling eyes, your thick bouncy hair. I love all of you. And I want to tell you today how grateful I am that you’ve remained so strong all these years. I vow to listen when you communicate with me, and honor your wishes from today until the day you leave me.

To my body, the only one I will ever have, I am sorry. I am awake.

Forever and Gratefully Yours,