This is one of those essays I shouldn’t share. It is deeply personal. The words sting like the skin after a band-aid’s been ripped from it. My words harbor greater resolve than I do. They’re emphatic about their existence. I write without apologies or agenda. It’s not that my essays ask for attention. They demand to exist, and against my better judgment, I oblige.
It feels comfortable to hate my body, to be at war with my own skin. I’ve done it for so long that I can say I love my body so much I believe it. And then the lie became truth.
My body is still the waystation for so many along their trek to greener pastures. Because humans must eat daily, I found an opportunity to deny myself every day. I got to ask “do I deserve this?” And answer “no”. In the necessary ritual of eating, I could crucify myself, and it felt like my suffering would breed a better Marisa. But she didn’t come. She stayed human. Remained Reubenesque. My body remained this thing I had to come home to when nobody else did. But if they aren’t running from my body, they are leaving something else about me.
The thing is, I’ve obsessed about my weight and appearance because they were always the easier paths, always simpler and less debris than what actually hurts and bothers. I named the “why” of my unwantability my body, my face. In my flaws were the Dear John letters no one bothered to pen for me. I could be the problem, and also the answer. “Enough” has been the roadrunner to my coyote. I can never catch up. Breathless from chasing people, listless from all the lists I’ve presented to prove my worth. Focusing on the distraction is all exhaustion and no healing.
I didn’t mean to love my body. It happened when I started living outside of my shoulds. It happened when I realized the scale didn’t rule the arrival and departure of people in my life. No one left when I took up more space. It happened when no one I slept with cared about the size of my body, and my allure didn’t rely on my weight. I happened when i stopped waiting and weighting to live my life—to live my life. We don’t arrive at body love by hyperfocusing on our bodies, but understanding that life is about everything outside of us. Good desserts are better than skinny jeans because that pastry probably won’t be there tomorrow but the jeans will. I feel like I’ve settled on a lesser me by arriving at this liberation.
I feel guilty for loving my body because it’s one less barrier between me and everything else. Because I’m staring it in the face “how deeply unlovable and unwantable I feel”. Normally, I abandon these texts to vagueness. I’m calling my bs out loud and in the open: i don’t feel that someone can love me romantically and stay. You can’t see me as I write this but the stone of my body is melting from tears. This is what hating my body has been holding back. Where there was a checklist, it’s now empty, and I’m bearing witness to all the space I never wanted to see.
Empty is also open. Empty is an infinite future without yesterday in its way. But it hurts. When I’ve made doorways in the shape of people my whole life, daring to blow it wide open is liberation and the surrender of that hope. This essay is where I put down my “what if”, or at least, try to. Because I’m not asking you to tell me I’m pretty. I’m not begging you to assure me how bangable my body is. Please don’t comfort me with “You’re time will come” or “it’ll happen when you least expect it” because I have a history of hopes like a rollercoaster that say otherwise.
There’s this idea that the prize of struggle is what you want. The presentation of broken parts is rewarded by what we’ve pined for. I’m not asking for anything. Frankly, this year dragged me through highs and lows and push so much of me into the light, and yet, it’s like it’s always been. There is no prize, or there is, and I’m failing to acknowledge it. The prize is peace with my reflection. The prize is my boundaries in relationships when I never had them before 25 (good thing I stayed single, right?). The prize is that for all the labor of calorie counting and macro measuring, my brain can still muster so many other things. I see myself and say “dayyymmmmnn” not “sorry”. And if these are the prizes, I will take them every time.
My fears are real. This deep fear that romantic love is accessible for everyone but me riles my anxiety at 2am. It taps my shoulder in the middle of the workday and howls when my friends become Indiana Jones of their romantic histories while I’m empty-handed. It’s hard to not feel pathetic then. It’s hard not to feel undesirable then. This doesn’t even mean I’m desperate for a relationship or even looking. It means that I look around myself and wonder why it hasn’t happened yet and internalize it. I’m still unlearning to see myself as a problem, but my body isn’t the problem anymore. My body is not the default answer for every test life throws my way. Now, I have to think about the answers. I don’t always like what I’m putting down, and more often than not, I don’t have an answer at all. It’s just a blank space, emptiness, an infinite future where my body is just as lovable. Maybe there, I am too.