A Letter To My Real, Everyday, “Non-Beach Bod” Body
Just because I don’t show you off in bikinis anymore doesn’t mean I’m not damn proud of you.
Dear Body — my real, everyday, “non-beach bod” body:
Eight days ago we turned 45. Today I’m saying “thank you. More importantly, “I appreciate you.”
I know I’ve never said that, let alone, thought it. But you need to hear it.
After all we’ve been through, you’re still holding me up, supporting me.
Though I move slower from the chronic pain and extra weight — which seems to accumulate like dental plaque — still, I move. Even when my mind is overwhelmed with depression or anxiety, you persist, and somehow, force me to move. Most of the time.
We’re entering that unique season in life Mom always referred to as the “sandwich generation.” Meaning, the years where we have the physical, financial, and emotional demands of raising our own kids, while simultaneously taking care of our parents. As Mom and Dad approach their 80s, and two of our three kids prepare to leave the nest next summer, I’ve been doing some reflecting. And, well… we’ve been through a lot.
There were so many times you could’ve given up, left me. But you never did.
I’m sorry that I haven’t appreciated this before.
Twenty-nine years ago you could’ve given up, when I first got sick and landed in the hospital. You could’ve given up just a few years ago — remember waking up in the ambulance, draped in cool, wet cloths as paramedics struggled — “We gotta get this fever down; it’s still 105.6°,” they said? And later recounted how we were “only minutes away,” they said, “from not making it to the hospital alive.”
The autoinflammatory condition had been attacking for two months. Lungs, this time — unprovoked, as usual. As I insisted on burning the candle at both ends, you persisted in sending up warning flares. But I ignored them, and I pushed you beyond capacity.
I’m sorry I did that to you.
Still, you rallied through that relentlessly high fever for days on end, and you valiantly fought sepsis, pneumonia, pleurisy, a hemorrhaged vocal cord, and an allergic reaction to IV antibiotics.
You could’ve thrown in the towel right then and there. Or any time during that ten day hospital stay. You didn’t. You fought and you won. I guess it wasn’t our time. I guess we still had work to do.
Thank you for that.
Over three decades, you’ve somehow gotten us through one miscarriage and three pregnancies, and sustained three intense labors that ended up as c-sections. In all three, you had me back up again, walking, in a matter of hours. I was there for all three babies. You never let me down, not even when we were in the thick of sleep-deprived nights and bleeding, cracked nipples.
Over all these years you’ve handled being poked and prodded, CT scanned, x-rayed, and MRI’d more than most others. You’ve endured colonoscopies and endoscopies, nerve conduction tests, and HIDA scans. You’ve championed your way through an NG tube without sedation, a PICC line from arm to heart without pain management, and the two months it took to pass an 8mm kidney stone that resembled a medieval torture weapon. Remember how it passed the night before the scheduled lithotripsy that was supposed to blast it apart? Because, as the doctor proudly stated, “you’ll never pass this on your own.”
You proved that pompous ass wrong. Thank you.
Miraculously, you sustained being taken down, run over and dragged downhill by the mini van, in our own driveway — a freak accident — while our three young kids stood frozen in the yard, frightened and helpless, knowing they’d lost me this time. Thank God we got them out in time. I was trying to stop the car; I should’ve known better. Adrenaline makes you do crazy things, I suppose.
Sometimes I still hear their terrified screams echoing in my sleep and it brings to my knees. Sometimes I wake up crying, longing to go back in time to hug those babies tight.
But they’re strong — so strong. Thank you for them, for growing such strong, beautiful, intelligent, gifted, and genuinely marvelous people.
You helped ride out my own youth plagued with recurrent UTIs, and years of painful vaginismus before 19. From age 20 on, you’ve withstood bouts of bleeding stomach ulcers and wickedly painful stomach infections, bladder “migraines” and flares of cervical spinal stenosis. You suffered shoulder impingement syndrome so bad it required surgery, on both sides, and you agonized through recurrent, painful corneal abrasions, thanks to yet another rare syndrome. You’ve been dealt both diagnoses and misdiagnoses, some of which were pretty frightening.
You’ve weathered over ten different surgeries and countless invasive procedures. The wear and tear is plainly visible. Things hurt. A lot. But I wouldn’t trade you. In fact, your scars are my armor, proof of our strength and will to survive.
Today, dear body — my real, everyday, “non-beach bod” body, I’m appreciating you. Just because I don’t show you off in bikinis anymore doesn’t mean I’m not damn proud of you. I am proud, I respect you, and today I’m thanking you. Because you deserve the world.
Martie sir-ROY (she/her) writes a variety of social commentary. She’s a top writer in Culture and LGBTQ for Medium, editor of Gender From the Trenches, and has been a featured contributor for HuffPost, Scary Mommy, NPR affiliates, and SiriusXM Insight, among others. Martie is the founder of S.E.A.R.CH., a program of her local LGBT Center, for trans youth and their parents. Connect with Martie on Twitter, Facebook, or follow her website & blog.