Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A letter to my body

Dear body,

We've been a team for, oh, nearly 29 years now. We went through a lot together when we were young (ear infections, surgery, all kinds of unpleasant stuff), and you performed beautifully when I started learning ballet at age 3. You were flexible and did whatever I told you to do, even when it was painful. You stayed smaller than average until we hit about 9, and then you started to grow wider before you grew taller. I was a little concerned, but it all worked out in the end and eventually you grew boobs (though they weren't very big, and damn, did growing boobs have to hurt so much?) and hips and though I didn't realize it at the time, you were pretty impressive. You could do all manner of swimming, and difficult ballet positions, and you never let me down no matter what I made you do. Even when I jumped off the roof to impress a boy and sprained our ankle, you healed and forgave me my transgression.

We went through a summer together when I decided you were too big in the wrong places, so I stopped feeding you more than a few hundred calories a day, and made you swim for hours. You responded by giving me my first taste of low blood sugar, getting smaller, and you still forgave me for not feeding you and even gamely participated in all the activity I forced you into. Again, I didn't realize until years later how good you looked and only focused on the flaws I saw. Your genetic proclivity toward spinal injury first showed up at a swim meet when we were sixteen, and I'd never understood what kind of pain my mom was in when she said her "neck was out", nor why my uncle had become a chiropractor after seeing what his mother went through, until I spent three days unable to move after geting fished out of the pool after a flipturn that somehow went wrong. I took you to a doctor who eventually helped you get better and I even sacrificed what little coolness factor I had in order to wear my backpack on both shoulders, because it just wasn't worth the pain to wear it on one like everybody else. I think I learned that lesson earlier than many people do, because comfort became more important than style. This is also why I've never made you wear skinny-heeled shoes; while they may be high, they're always stable.

You spent years telling me to stop doing ballet but I didn't listen to you. In fact, I pushed you through years of pain because I loved dancing, and you loved dancing, and we just took some tylenol when the pain got bad. It wasn't until college, when my boyfriend told me I *HAD* to go to the doctor because he couldn't stand me waking up in the night in tears anymore. I quit ballet because the doctor told me I needed to choose between giving up dance and installing new hips in you before we turned thirty. That really opened my eyes, body, and I only danced once more after that, a swan song. I should have listened to you all those years, because then we could still maybe dance jazz or contemporary/modern, but we'll never be able to do even that because the cartiledge in our hips is gone. I'm sorry I didn't believe you when you told me for years that I was pushing you too far.

It took me a while to figure out what else I could do to keep you occupied. I figured out that running didn't make you hurt anymore, so we did that, and I also regressed a few times back to malnourishing you, because I didn't want to gain weight. More than one guy told me that I was the largest size of woman he would ever be interested in, and I really took that to heart and told you to shut up when you were hungry because you needed to stay at least that size, or preferably get smaller. Those were dark times, body, because honestly? You were totally gorgeous. I took you to Europe and you walked all over the place and the person I traveled with made me feed you because sometimes I forgot, or didn't want to spend the money to do so. But eventually I learned another important lesson, that I have to feed you regularly for you to stay happy, and when I do that we get along like peas and carrots.

We got to the point where we could run and feel good, and then I started going to a gym and taking Pilates classes that helped you get strong and lean and reminded me of some of the things I loved about ballet. I made you lift weights for the first time and you responded by toning up really quickly. I learned that our enormous calves weren't just a product of ballet but that all of you would bulk up (unlike most women) if I lifted a lot of weight, so I learned to be judicious about which parts of you lifted how much weight, because neither of us want to look like a linebacker. We found a guy who loved us no matter what we looked like; when we met him our boobs were tiny and we had almost no body fat, and now we weigh a lot more but we're also curvier and more feminine, and all of our bras are filled out nicely. He likes that, too. He likes it that you are strong and capable of lifting him even if it's only with your legs and only just a little bit. We're going to marry him in a month.

You've rarely let me down, body. We were hit by a car a while back, and got whiplash, and I've spent the last 18 months rehabilitating you back to where you were before, lifting weights and doing physical therapy exercises, strengthening you and toning you and calming you with yoga. I've fed you well and made sure we got enough sleep whenever I could. So why now, body? Why did you have to regress back to car-accident-level of pain and limited mobility? Don't you like being pain-free, body? There's no reason for this silliness, and no reason for you to be all recalcitrant and contrary. I didn't do anything to you that I can think of other than plan a wedding in another state, and it's about time you start responding to the things I'm doing to make you better. Because I've been taking good care of you, body, and I would like to be able to count on you to do what I need you to do to get through the next month. So let's just stop with the pain-for-no-reason and get better, OK? Because we need our beauty sleep and we need to let off steam at the gym and it's really difficult to do these things when we can't move.



Monkey McWearingChaps said...

Poor thing. I hope your body decides to cooperate soon. What on earth set it off? The yoga? As a former dancer, I imagine you have very good form on the positions.

Take care of yourself...healing vibes being sent your way.

Monkey McWearingChaps said...

Another thing, I know like me you have a job that keeps you chained to the desk (lucky us...*eyeroll*). Have they given you an ergonomic chair yet (like the Aeron)? It makes a HUGE difference, especially if you have former spine/neck injuries. I was not a believer until I got one and watched small aches and pains disappear.