an apology to my body

November 14, 2018
Vase with wilting flowers
Art by Kirsten Hemrich

an apology to my body

*Trigger Warning: content contains themes concerning disordered eating

i stare at you in the mirror and
my fingers creep down your edges
what once were curved like 
rolling hills on the skyline are now 
flat like razed earth and hard in places 
i hadn’t felt before 

i don’t know when you started shrinking 
it happened so rapidly last year but
somehow i didn’t see it til 
i came across a picture taken 5 months prior

i stopped getting hungry 
stress pooled in my stomach 
fueled my body at 4am
oversleeping two meals a day and
working and working and 
getting high at night just so i could eat

some days i forget to eat for so long
by the time you realize all you are is angry
filling me to the brim with nausea,
making my stomach feel like 
it’s shriveling inside me til 
i can’t even stand up straight

but that’s not the whole truth is it?
in my gut i’ve hated you
hated you for a long time because
i wanted you to reflect perfection
because i wanted to be perfection

i crave being beautiful 
i’ve examined you in the mirror every day
tilted your head this way and
that
zeroed in on every pockmark,
noted every asymmetrical piece,
pinched every swell of fat 
the ones left anyway

i’d look at you sideways, 
judge how much i’d feed you
by how low the valley between
my jutting hip bones lay and
by how much i allowed you 
the day before
maybe, if you’re lucky,
you did something well enough i’ll feed you anyway
as a reward

i developed a sick sense of 
satisfaction when
i turned my back to you the mirror and bent
watching your spine rise out of your back 
like some bony mountain range
shifting your shoulders to watch 
the blades slide like
the surface of tectonic plates

i circled you in measuring tape
keeping strict track of your loss
until you became just a number
one i desperately needed to drop lower and lower and
sometimes i’d wonder if 
there will ever be a number low enough

for every time one person 
worries about my weight 
two people gush 
their envy for my figure
how can my health compete with that?

i teeter on the edge of being underweight
feeding myself enough to live
but not enough to grow
i wanted you to shrink
wanted less of you so 
i could finally unearth the body i yearned for

i’d lay in bed on nights i couldn’t sleep
listing every single detail 
about you i’d change 
if given the chance 

the list is long

how ironic
i tell friends to embrace their bodies
lips overflowing with
words of body positivity and love
that shrivel in my mouth 
looking at you

how do you fight the feeling
that you don’t deserve to eat?
how do you feel any
semblance of control at all 
when the most you’ve ever felt
is withholding what literally
sustains your life? 

i don’t know why i hate you
i’m sorry
i think part of it dates back to
that boy we loved so much 
(the one we foolishly worshipped at the feet of,
you remember the one)
telling us he preferred skinny girls
with disdain in his eyes for you
even though he’s long gone
i think that’s why i still hate you
and i’m so, so sorry

i don’t know how to fix us
therapy would probably help but
how does one seek help when
one isn’t sure she’s ready to use it?

i recognize there is a problem,
but it doesn’t feel like a problem
it feels like a haven
something that makes me beautiful and
thin and appealing and 
in control
even though writing this all out
makes it sound like i’m spirally out of control,
doesn’t it?

i’m not sure 
why i started writing this
started pouring out my demons 
and making myself look them in the eye
maybe it’s a sign of progress,
who the hell knows

i guess really this is more about kinship,
to all the other girls who started 
hating their bodies because of 
the words of a man
or for whatever other reason you 
came to wage siege against your own flesh

i’m here too,
we’re still here
we’ll figure it out eventually 
but
for now 
let’s go have a snack
 

Letter From the Editor