"How long has it been since you've eaten?". I remember the conversation well. 19-year old me sitting across from the then, sweet and well-meaning boyfriend. It had been around 20 days. What started out as a spiritual fast from food had turned into a seemingly good excuse to not eat. This would not be the first, nor the last time I would see my body as the enemy. The traitor, the friend who had turned its back on me. I always wanted to love my body, but I had a hard enough time extending unconditional grace to others, much less myself. We got dinner that night, I ate a sandwich, I moved forward. The sun was brighter the next morning. We broke up months later, I revisited those 20 days.
Over seven years have passed since that conversation and I've been working every day since to extend grace upon grace to this body. I've been working every day to never apologize for the way it chooses to move and grow and shift and change. And what I believe at the core of my ribcage is that this process begins with gratitude. With seeing my body as a beautiful contribution to this world. So I choose to say thank you. Thank you for the way my heart continues to beat no matter how raw its shattered corners become. Thank you for the way my lungs fight with fists of passion to keep my chest rising and falling, even on the days I would rather forfeit.
I am a constant teeter totter when it comes to my purpose here on this earth. It transforms into something new each week. Right now I have the privilege of working with women who are battling eating disorders and addiction. I get to be a part of their fight, I get to cheer them on and stand with them in the mud when the rain is too heavy to carry alone. I don't know where I'll be in a year or what job I'll have, but I do know this to be true: if my existence in this world encourages one woman to live, fully alive in her skin, then I have done my best.
So sweet girl, I see you. I've sat in those dark twenty days, I've revisited them more times than I'd like to admit. You are not alone, and you are not flawed. Your body is not an apology, it is a conduit for creativity. It is a vessel of love and joy. Your hands have tenderness to offer, your voice truth to gift. So whatever you do, don't stop showing up. Even if it means you walk through the front door shaking and stuttering. It doesn't matter how you arrive, just that you do, because we need you.
So arrive, drink some water, take a deep breath, ask for help. The sun will be brighter tomorrow. And the world better, because you are in it. Alive and fighting.