See her? She’s there on the right-hand side of the picture. Yes, it’s a picture of me, but look closer.
Unlike many pictures of me, this one includes Zoe — my body. I’ve done a lot of processing lately and decided a few things:
- My body is not an “it.” My body is female. I am a woman and my body is female and she is a she.
- My body is part of me, but she is not all of me. I am more than my body, therefore my body is its own entity and deserves its own name.
- My body is Zoe, which means life.
- I have not been kind to Zoe in a long time and I owe her an apology. Several apologies, in fact.
Thank you so much for being who you are. Thank you for being strong and for helping me manage this crazy thing called life. We’ve been through a lot together. Childhood with the fingers that got smashed in the car door. Skinned knees from my days of climbing trees — OH! how I loved climbing trees — and the days when I ran without thinking about falling, but fell and got up and kept running anyway. Together, we traveled from childhood into puberty and both welcomed and struggled the curves of being female. We learned we were attractive and didn’t quite know what to do with that information. We struggled with the idea that we might be pretty. And we ate.
We ate a lot. Even in early years, we would wait until people who could criticize us for eating were gone and we ate. Somehow, we needed that. The small bit of control that it allowed us to have. In our chaotic days of growing up, we needed that and it was OK.
We experienced life together. Maturity. Sex. Pregnancy. Loss. Victory. Beauty. Strength. All of it.
You have been very, very good to me.
I’m sorry I have not been good to you, Zoe.
I’m sorry that I blamed you when my jeans didn’t fit or the fabric on my shirt showed your curves.
I’m sorry that I didn’t trust you to tell me what and how much you needed to eat. In earlier years, that often meant ignoring the need to eat. Letting you be hungry instead of giving you the fuel you needed. More recently, I’ve tuned out your pleas for me to just stop and wait and not eat quite so much. I’ve ignored the messages that the food was straining your knees — our knees — and making it harder to do the things we love so very much.
You have been strong and courageous and capable and I’ve returned that by being ashamed of you.
I’m sorry, Zoe. I’m so, so sorry.
You deserve so much better. You deserve honor and respect. You deserve trust. You deserve the health that comes from setting boundaries. There are conversations that we can not continue to have if we’re going to have a healthy relationship. I love you and I love our family and I love the tasks that we have set in front of us in this crazy thing called life. I want us to be able to work together instead of one always trying to micromanage or avoid the other.
Can you forgive me? Please be patient with me as I learn to trust and listen. It’s my heart’s desire to do that, but it will take time for me to learn. Together, we will find a way to be good partners again. We did amazing things back when we were having babies, so I know that we can do this too.