"Dear Body..." How a simple letter changed my perspective.




My body and I go way back. I mean like waaaaaay back. She knows me more intimately than anyone possibly could. She has been present during every meaningful moment in my life. My first steps? There. My first time riding a "big kid" roller coaster? Totally there! My first kiss, my first funnel cake, my first time in Paris, and my wedding day...You could say we are BFF's. 
(Best Friends Forever in case you were never a 12 year old girl)

But lately I have been a bad friend. I haven't been checking in with her as much as I used to. Not returning her messages and then "forgetting" to do the things I promised. I've been taking all of her efforts for granted, and perhaps saddest of all, I have been super duper critical.
Every little thing she does is irritating. 
All of her imperfections are glaring reminders of her shortcomings. 

Me and my body, it's complicated


I was recently mulling over our "tiff" when I heard something that struck me. Struck me in the same mind-blowing way as when you realize you have been 
mispronouncing a word your entire life. 

What if I stopped thinking of my body as an "accessory"? 
What if she isn't supposed to function like a 
well-oiled machine all of the time. 

She is not a pair of shoes or an iPhone 6. She is not something to be manipulated or molded into whatever image I think she should be. 
She is also not entirely (or even remotely) under my full control. 
She is an amazing living thing that I get to inhabit during my time on Earth. 

Just like I can't control my height, or if my hair turns grey, or if my nose gets freckles on it when I am in the sun, I can't control my body. I have suffered for decades with migraine headaches and often debilitating IBS. I have cursed my body while trying to "fix" her with juice cleanses, harsh medications, and painful (and expensive) procedures. 

Thankfully I have found some ways to lessen the pain. The more mindfully I eat, the more happily I move, and the more intentionally I rest, the better I feel. 
The longer I struggle with these chronic conditions the more I realize it's about self-love, not self-control. I can't punish myself well. 
She is isn't sending pain signals to piss me off, she is asking for help.


 

I was recently listening in on a group call with a bunch of other women assembled by my health coach*. One of the ladies had just completed a homework assignment suggested by our coach: give your body a name, write a letter to your body, and then have your body write a letter back to you. After hearing what an impact this simple exercise had on my peer, I decided to try it for myself.


I spent way to much time thinking of a name for my body... It is harder than you think! It couldn't be something I associated with anyone or anything. FINALLY it came to me: Priscilla.  The longer I sat with the name the more it seemed "right". Priscilla is an old soul, wise beyond her years, but also a dainty lady. She is a delicate flower and a lover of life. Who doesn't love a gal named Priscilla?! 

Now that Priscilla was here, it was time to get to work. I opted not to read other letters as inspiration. This was something I strongly debated after initially googling "letter to my body" and finding an entire Tumblr page devoted to it, you can find it here. BUT I urge you to complete your letters first. I just don't like the idea of strangers words tainting a very personal experiment. I dived into my letters with a unfiltered 'stream of consciousness' approach. I opened up a new Word document and just started typing. 


My letters contained apologies and expressions of remorse,
BUT also many more words of gratitude than I expected.


Aknowledging that my human body and my "self" are two very separate entities, both trying to live their best life, has really opened up a new pathway for body acceptance and overall health. When I take the time to figure out what I need mentally and emotionally, and also what is best for my body physically, I ultimately create balance & joy. It is nearly impossible to do harm to yourself or others when acting from a place of love and respect. I am tired of wishing for things I may never have. I am learning to live with more gratitude and appreciation. I don't want to fight with my body anymore. I want my best friend back. 

*If you are curious, I work with Isabel Foxen Duke and she is a bad a$$ mentor/coach. Her perspective on body image/acceptance has taught me how to "stop fighting food". Check out this link for totally free newsletter and video series: