Your body is a temple. You only get one. Cherish it. Take care of it. Love it.
Is there one woman on this Earth who hasn’t had a fucked up relationship with her body at some point in life?
There are so many pieces of advice out there on loving your body. Body positivity, self-love, clean eating, body acceptance, fitspiration, etc. But I don’t feel we hear enough about our bodies during addiction or our bodies during sobriety. To be honest, I think this is a topic I avoid. Maybe it’s because I don’t know if my relationship with my body is the healthiest. Does it have to be to talk about this? I know that it has evolved over time and that sobriety has given me the awareness and courage to acknowledge and make a relationship with my body.
Whether we know it or not, the decisions we make in life are cultivating a relationship with our bodies. I never gave thought to this until I quit drinking. But oh boy, the relationship I’ve had with my body over the years can be described in many ways, one is fucked up. But it wasn’t always that way. Growing up I never felt bad about my body. I was a healthy, fit teenager who played sports year-round and ate whatever I wanted all the time. I brought double the lunch money to school every day during high school because I would eat either two lunches, or get extra snacks before and afterward.
I have never needed someone else to love my body. My relationship with my body has always been about me. I have always loved putting clothes on that make me feel good. I have always loved connecting with men on a physical level, which we’re all told from a young age is wrong, slutty or dirty! I have always loved connecting with myself on a physical level, which we are also told is weird and gross. It wasn't until adulthood that I learned this is all normal and healthy.
I have always been comfortable in photos, even when I look back and think, “wow I don’t look good there,” which I know isn't the case for everybody. Once I started my string of knee injuries at the age of 16 I began to understand the power of the body. I saw my leg heal with 20 staples in it and an atrophied quad muscle slowly get back to normal. I learned that taking painkillers prescribed to me by a doctor didn’t just take my physical knee pain away, they made me relax, they made me giggly, and my mind light. I also learned what it felt like to be disappointed in my body. I learned what it felt like to not be able to trust my body. It let me down time and time again, it still does.
Following one of my knee surgeries in college I gained weight. I was the heaviest I had ever been at that point in my life and I couldn’t exercise much. I was in physical therapy and only cleared to do the bare minimum. One day after stuffing my face in the dining hall, I remember going into the bathroom of my dorm, closing myself in a stall and trying to force myself to throw up my food. It didn’t work very well. I despise throwing up and sticking my finger down my throat was scary. It was the first time I really felt out of control. Following my 2nd knee surgery in college (my 5th in total) I was living in an apartment off campus. I drank alcohol right after my surgery, I was still on crutches and in a brace, and of course, taking pain pills. I would take my bottle of prescription pain pills out with me to parties. I would give them or sell them to other people and take them myself, knowing there was a warning label on the side of the bottle that said do not take with alcohol. I knew it would make me drunker and that’s what I was trying to do. This is when things with my body began to get sticky.
That's nothing compared to what the drinking and drugs put my body through. When I say I had bad hangovers I mean, horrible. I would puke up green stomach acid. I would puke during blackouts and the day after drinking. But I didn't necessarily think this was bad because if I was throwing up, I would be skinnier. I would have the worst splitting headaches in the world. And still, I did not stop drinking or doing drugs. I can recall many times in Cancun when I took MDMA so intense it made me throw up while I was high and I thought it was funny. I would puke, laugh, and keep partying. I also remember a handful of times taking bumps of cocaine so strong I would run to the bathroom and puke. When I was into cocaine I lost a ton of weight because eating obviously was not a top priority and cocaine causes a loss of appetite. I’ll never forget all my guy friends in Cancun telling me I looked great, skinnier, hotter during that time in my life. I thought, “wow I’m not doing anything except drinking and partying and eating one meal a day, this is awesome!”
After getting sober I started to eat well, I stopped puking, and hangovers no longer plagued me. I no longer actively punish my body. But I’ve still gone through times where I weigh more and my clothes don’t fit. The difference is I still feel beautiful, I still love myself, and I still look at and acknowledge the stunning power of my body. I have scars that will never leave me, that are visible to the public. I have skin that’s had more problems than my knees in its lifetime. I am 100 percent imperfect.
You could previously describe my relationship with my body as love/hate. Today, it’s a much more even love-most-of-the-time, which for me is progress. My expectations of my body remain high, but I'm working on that. After 6 knee surgeries, I expect that I can still do all the CrossFit movements and play all the soccer, but every once in a while I am catapulted back to reality when one of my knees swells up. This isn’t to say that my past surgeries are a handicap for me. I am doing far beyond what anyone expects me to (doctors included). But it's a reminder that I won't ever be able to forget my scars and the past that I've been through.
I embrace my body at all of its stages. It is so powerful. I am in awe by what it can do, what it can come back from, what it can learn, and how good it can feel. Getting sober has taught me to be gentle with myself, physically and mentally. It has taught me that making peace with myself includes making peace with my body.