My body has been under attack for 36 years, by enemies both foreign (me) and domestic (itself). This week, I stood in front of the mirror and took a good look at it, for the first time in a while. Part of me marvels at how strong and functional it still is after all that. The other part of me hates what it’s become (in large part because of what I have done to it) – fat, scarred, tired. I’m not sure which thoughts are dominant. It’s a big disconnect.
As in any relationship, nothing good can come of disconnects and lack of communication. We need to find our way back to common ground. So I wrote my body a letter, like I used to do after a big fight with my mom. Acknowledgement of fault, airing feelings, and sincere apology are the only way forward if the relationship is to survive. And I’m so much better at writing feelings than I am at speaking feelings.
We’ve had a rough time of it lately, haven’t we? What with me not taking care of you properly, that cancer scare in May, and a cold that almost sent me to the hospital for the first time in 20 years, you must be as tired and frustrated as I am. Sadly there is no time to take a break and reconnect.
I want you to know that I see you. I see the ears that still look pierced even though they’re not, the marks from insulin pump infusion sets. I see the squiggle vein on my left quad, the scars from childhood antics, the muscle under the extra layers I’ve gained.
I feel you. I feel the exhaustion and how hard you have been working to function. I feel the unevenness in my hips that I chose because the pain of shoving them back into alignment was too much to handle when I was also dealing with dying nerves in my legs. I feel how much you miss near-daily exercise, and how much you love being outside, especially in the new balcony garden.
I hear you. I hear the shortness of breath rasping in tighter lungs and the clicking of trigger finger in my finger joints. I hear a stomach that is unhappy with my food choices.
All this time you have been trying to tell me how unhappy you are, and I have been ignoring you. I’ve seen my lab tests – not just weight and blood sugar -- going up and up and down, and I note it for immediate action, but jerry rigging a fix never works for long. I know you need to live a healthier lifestyle and be more vigilant about diabetes basics for this to work.
I know I have hurt you by not doing that, and I’m sorry. I don’t deal with feelings very well, and you end up bearing brunt my unexpressed feelings of burnout, rebellion, and fear. Lately, I have just been too busy to pay attention.
But busy is an excuse, isn’t it? I need to adjust how I am spending my time. All these new commitments that have been keeping me so busy can’t take the place of the old ones. I need to put you first again, like I used to. Without you, there won’t be any commitments, will there?
I’ll do better. It’s the only choice, isn’t it? You won’t be able to forgive me forever. I don’t even know if you will forgive me now. I hope so. I hope it’s not too late to come back from the possibility of permanent damage. Just keep telling me when you are unhappy. I promise to listen this time.