Below is a letter I wrote to my body almost a decade ago and an exercise I sometimes encourage others to do. There are many societal reasons we have learned to disconnect from our bodies but at some point, we need to make peace with our body. Jesus modeled a very embodied life for us. Our body is not our enemy and as we begin to heal we find a beautiful partnership and connection to our bodies. This integration is key to our healing journey. If you feel a nudge to write your own letter, I would be honored to support you in the process.
To My Body,
I have sacrificed you in the name of leadership and strength. I have ignored your pleas both big and small. From the little voice needing water and food to the pounding migraine and exhaustion that feels like our hips can’t take one more step. I’ve ignored what you have to say. Let’s be honest, I’ve even told you to shut up. I have silenced you with medication and caffeine. Made sure you knew that we weren’t friends. I’m the master and you will do as I say.
You cooperated for a season, appearing to go with the flow as I increased the demands little by little. Exercise is good for you, don’t be a wimp. Keep running even though you are tired. The endorphins are in the next mile and then you will feel better. Discipline leads to strength. The mind seems to understand this so now I just need you to catch on. Withholding food proves that you have strong will power. I will give it to you eventually just prove to me you can make it one more meal. Stay awake!! You don’t need sleep… there is still so much to get done. Sleep is for the weak and you are strong remember?
You finally begin to break. You can’t keep up, the gnawing pain in my left side and the increased migraines tell me this. Our hips, our kidneys, our intestines, they are tired and they can’t take much more. I try and ignore you like I always have but make slight adjustments out of fear you might just give up.
Someone kinder than I comes along and introduces me to you in a whole new way. She talks about you like you are the most important person in the room. When my mind speaks she interrupts to ask what you have to say or how you are feeling. She gives you more attention than I have ever seen someone give their body. She teaches me that as a house for my creator I should begin to treat you with the same concern and respect. I begin to do this by resting more often, taking deep breaths, and acknowledging your messages of pain. By touching the spots that cry out for reassurance that everything is ok. By allowing our kidneys to feel the support and not the anxiety. The more I pay attention to you the more I like you. I want us to be friends. If strength is what I really wanted, I think this working together is the way to get it. Although, I’m not sure either of us want that anymore.
I owe you an apology. I’m so incredibly sorry I didn’t recognize your importance. I’m sorry that I treated you like you mattered less than the rest of me. Some of this I knew better and chose to hurt you. Some of it is new to me and I realize I had no idea what I was doing to you. I want you to feel safe. I want to know you so well that you no longer have to scream in pain to get my attention. I want you to feel number one for once. I know this will take time and I can’t promise you I won’t mess up. I can promise you that to the best of my ability I will give you what you deserve. I will check in with you before decisions are made and I will invite your voice to the table.
This friend who helped me see you differently says you can be forgiving. So that is what I ask of you, please forgive me.