by Danielle Wynne
There has always been a disconnect between me and my body. Between expectations from myself, family, strangers, fellow school children – it was easier to ignore it, disconnect and disassociate from my own skin and shape. I would rather not feel my body than feel the pain of it not being accepted. So, I never took care of it. It didn’t deserve light, nutritious food. There was no point in exercising it, because it was so useless. Smothering a useless body in lotions and fake tan and exfoliant was pointless and none-deserving. Giving a useless body pleasure in any form, when it does not deserve it, when it deserves ridicule and hate, isn’t logical. It was far easier to create a chasm, a gaping hole between myself and what I believe – and what I thought others believed – of my body. In my naivety I thought I would be better off knowing every bad thing someone could think and hold it like a shield around me, before anyone could wield it as a weapon.
In trying to turn my softness to hardness, I blackened my insides – hurt myself more than anyone else’s words ever could. Hiding my body from myself was an act of self-hate and trying to take up as little space as possible was a disservice to it. I looked at other people wearing shorts, skirts, but recoiled at the thought of myself doing the same. Those people were part of another world, further across the chasm than my body was from me.
“It was far easier to create a chasm, a gaping hole between myself and what I believe – and what I thought others believed – of my body.”
This chasm between myself and my body – my outsides and my insides – is still here. After years of not looking at my body, only shedding my clothes immediately before bathing and panicking back into them at the first opportunity, it was so easy not to think about it. My body was not something to be broken out and enjoyed. It was to be kept inside. To house the thoughts that were tearing me apart, inside out. My body was something to try and keep as small, as slouched, hunched as possible. I folded in on myself.
I have gained and lost weight more times than I can count. I’ve tried reclaiming my body, hiding it, exposing it, dressing it up and down, restricting it, punishing it and overindulging it again. It has taken a long time for me to attempt to come home to myself and to my body – I’m probably still next door; on bad days a few doors down the street – and to truly see it, hold it, accept it for what it is. The hole still appears. Sometimes the shield needs to come up. But the gap between myself and my body is closing, slowly. I am now, finally, more kind to it than I have ever been.