Dear Body,

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry for the way I have been treating you for the past ten years of my life.

I’m sorry for not recognizing your excellence. For not marveling over the ways in which you keep me alive through the flu or a cold or a broken bone. For not appreciating your complex inner functions that seem to work together with ease. For not recognizing that my entire life you have literally supported me throughout every endeavor, every movement, every moment.

I’m sorry for picking you apart both literally and figuratively. For being unable to stand in front of a mirror without criticizing some aspect of you. For focusing on your perceived flaws rather than your immense and innumerable strengths. For fabricating flaws where there are none.

I’m sorry for not listening to you but instead thinking I know better than you. For ignoring your hunger, your thirst, your need for rest. For treating my mind as superior to you, and for believing that these drives are merely limitations rather than warning signs for functioning. For not believing that you know best.

I’m sorry for feeling the need to shrink you into almost nothing.

Because you deserve to take up space. Because you are marvelous, and the world needs to see you in all of your imperfectly perfect glory. Because uniqueness is a strength, and not a limitation or weakness. I’m sorry for not recognizing that. Because you are solely mine, the only thing that is entirely unique to me. You are the whole reason for my existence.

I’m sorry for not recognizing that this entire time, all you wanted to do was save me. To help me survive. There is no war. We are not going to battle, though sometimes my mind convinces me otherwise. All you want is for me to stay alive.

I want to say that I will never do it again, that this is a turning point, but I would be lying if I made such a promise. Because it will happen again. It will happen over and over and over. But maybe I can shoot for less. Maybe I can shoot for shorter and shorter periods of time spent staring at myself in the mirror, mentally running through a litany of dissatisfactions. Maybe I can slowly let go of this unattainable ideal I have in my brain of what you are supposed to look like. Maybe I can take a few hours for the rest you—we—so need. Maybe what I can ask for right now is for more moments of clarity like the one I’m experiencing right now.

Because in this moment of clarity, I admit I’ve done you wrong.

You are glorious. Majestic, even. A true fighter, and the best friend I’ve ever had. No one has fought for me more than you have, body. No human person would have put up with the hell I put you through. But here you are: strong legs to support me even when I feel too weak to stand; strong shoulders to carry the burden of my own anxious mind when it becomes too much; strong arms to attempt to throw all of the toxicity of the world out the window and separate myself from the constant anguish around me; a strong heart to love, both others and myself; lungs to help me breathe when I feel like I’m drowning; feet to dig into the earth when it seems like I might just drift away.

I write this letter for you, dear body, but also for me, to remind myself when I want to go to war with you that it’s futile and stupid, because you are the best thing to have ever happened to me. And that in and of itself is enough.

Kristy Cloetingh is a Philadelphia native who is currently trying to figure out her place in the world. Her passions include reading, singing, dancing, nature, yoga, chicken fingers, and puppies. An anorexia survivor and mental health warrior, Kristy has made it her life’s mission to remind every single person that their bodies and minds are worthy of unconditional love and respect, regardless of size, shape, or whatever “normal” is.

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