Hate, Loathe, Love, Me

There are so many things I see when I look in the mirror… I see skin that has been scarred during battles with mental illness; I see grey and white hair where once I saw black, cherry red and deep purple hair; I see lines stretching and forming across my face, hinting at the years that are going by at increasingly greater speed…

As I continue to look at myself in the mirror, my eyes move over the soft rolls that have been more loyal to me than many people. They envelope the once-defined muscles on my thighs and upper arms, cushioning the blows of words hurled over time. The stretch marks are faint, but they are many. I stare at my stomach, painfully aware that it has created space – both literally and metaphorically – between me and the world before me. The world I so desperately want to arrive and participate in is there, but it’s not always within my reach.

I hate this body.

I think about the abuse this body has endured at my own hands. The secret eating, the over-eating, the emotional eating… feelings coated in chocolate, deep-fried and then rolled in sugar for good measure. Hours of binging too much and not purging enough – I have wrapped myself in a casing that has never been entirely impenetrable. The insults have always hurt – always will hurt. I hate what I have done to it.

I loathe this body.

But then…

I remember that my body has carried me from Canada to Saudi Arabia to India to Portugal to Bahrain to Holland and back to Canada. It has broken and maintained competitive swimming records, and walked up the podium to receive awards for show jumping. It has played first chair alto sax in a number of bands, and played some wicked guitar on small stages. It has stood before rooms of 500 people and moved with me as I bared my teenage soul for a national podcast. It has grown and birthed two incredible children. It has welcomed pleasure, sustained pain and grown with me. More often than I remember, it is a place of comfort and safety for friends and family who just need a “Maura Hug”. This body, in its glorious size, has danced beneath full moons during Pagan rituals, drummed by fire to invoke peace and happiness, and danced away the night in the kitchen with my kids.

The world is not quite ready to accept that a fat body is still a worthy body – still a beautiful body. The world has not awakened enough to return my warm and loving embrace, but as I continue to re-program myself, my arms begin to encircle my own body, gently caressing the curves of my hips and breasts, the belly I used to grow human beings in. This is my body. It’s the only one I’ll ever have. I realize it will always be a work-in-progress, but that doesn’t mean I can’t continue to love myself and be happy at each stage.

I love this body.

Story by Maura.  Photo by UNTOLD Contributor, Lorna Dancey.  LornaDanceyPhotography.com