Dear Body,

You are a miraculous thing. As a young girl and now a young woman - I'll admit that I haven't always positively acknowledged your worth, and ingenuity. This is a letter so that you can know how I have felt about you over the years, and it's also a letter for you to hold over my head on those mornings I say ugh I have to dress you again?! 

As a kid I felt bad for you. I put you through so much crap in those early years, seriously! Hey body, let's go race around the neighborhood on my bike today. Hey body, I wonder what happens if I tried to slide head first down the stairs. Hey body, let's show my guy friend just how hard I can punch him. Hey body, we're going to try rope climbing today. Hey body, let's dive into the massive 40ft wave pool! Most of those things were not the wisest decisions I have ever made and yet you went along with it. Most of those things wound up with you getting a cast put on somewhere, and all of those things were absolutely worth it. You're like my personal Magic 8 Ball: I rattle you around and moments later you reveal some truth that tells me how I should next proceed.
Then of course there's all the crap that all those other people put you through. And obediently you allowed it to happen, most of the time. Hey body, they're going to break you into 3 pieces and stick some metal in you. Hey body, he's going to bend you this way and that way to get a better x-ray. Hey body, she's going to make you break a sweat so you can learn to walk. Hey body, he's going to pick you up and swing you over his shoulders. And that's how I learned to trust, to know my limits, and to understand acceptance - because there are many things that happen that are completely out of our hands. So we can either be at peace with it or learn to work around that metal rod you rejected, after two years.

 You are my one and only, and it really wasn't until fairly recently that I have come to understand how to act accordingly. Sure growing up I was always told: "This is the only body you'll ever have, so eat healthy and take care of it!" But to a four, six, nine, or fifteen year-old time is limitless and opportunities are endless. We think that there's always going to be another occasion for a do-over, we can always take-it-back, or try-again... and while in many instances this is possible, since this is the one instrument and version of you that I have - I know I need to add to your uniqueness carefully. It's much tougher to erase a mark on you than it is to add, and no I don't just mean those things I add after the holidays!

There's petite, small, medium, large, obese, curvy, bell-shaped, pear-shaped, OI-shaped, type III shaped, type I shaped, average or above average... The labels that I can pluck out of thin air and give to you are infinite. There's pre-holiday and post-holiday, there's summer and winter - body, there's svelte and rugged, post-surgery and pre-surgery... there's media, ads, social expectations, "the ideal"... Quite frankly, body, I don't understand how you haven't cracked under this pressure! There have been many times when those labels hurt more than getting hit by a ball, and yet you haven't broken down from all of those categories. You've maintained being you. You've stayed true to your scoliosis, short-statured, long-armed, bowed legs, barrel-rib-cage, and easily bruised self. And even if I were to sit next to some other young woman with the same type of O.I., the same age, the same surgeries, the same hearing-loss -- you are still different, you are still you. This closeness and intimacy that you have revealed to me, and that has evolved over the years, is a little mind-boggling if I really let myself think about this.
I didn't always think about your differences in a total awesome-sauce spotlight. I used to be angry, jealous, and resentful of your differences. Sure, I'd think, it's easy to tell girls to love their body, to ramble on about girl-power - but does their body look like this? And is their body limited like this? There were never posters of a girl (delightfully clad in pink and pastels), jumping in a field of flowers and bunnies whose body looked like mine. I didn't exactly have anyone in my life I could talk to, and I'm certain that even if that space and individual were around - I didn't even have the words to express my confusion. Mom would just tell me things she "is supposed to say." My doctor would just talk about eating healthy. Teachers? Yeah right - like I was going to raise my hand in a class full of able-bodied peers to ask that. So I bundled you up the best I could, hidden under wraps of cool composure and a care-free attitude. It became a feeling that bounced around my chest, and then as I got older it vaulted into the upper spheres of my head where I continue to try (un)successfully to understand.

So here I am, writing this rambly letter to you. Is it a letter of apology? Not really. Is it a letter of thanks? Kind of. Is it a letter of explanation? Most likely. I wanted to explain where we are with each other. I wanted to explain that I don't always hate you, and I don't always love you either. I wanted to explain why I continue to be confused. Now I'll do as I've always done, as we've always communicated with each other - I'll wait for you to respond somehow in someway, and give me a small clue about how we can move forward together.

Patiently & respectfully yours,
Sandy

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