T'Shuvah For My Body
Once again it’s the Jewish new year, when we practice T’shuvah, the art of acknowledging where we have missed the mark. T’shuvah means return. This year I am returning fully to my body.
I used to spend every high holidays praying that I might one day stop fighting with my body. Until I finally did. Now, I’m ready to make amends. So here goes…
I have missed the mark, and I am sorry.
I am sorry for the times I didn’t listen to what you were saying.
I am sorry for the years I worshipped the false idol of “smaller, always smaller” instead of letting you grow in whatever ways you wanted.
I am sorry for the times you asked me to rest, and I pushed you to keep going.
I am sorry that I sometimes forgot we are a team, for life.
I am sorry for the years that I was scared of your requests for food, and felt hunger as negative.
I am sorry that when I heard “pain is beauty” in 5th grade, I believed it.
I am sorry for the jokes I made at your expense.
I am sorry for the times I squeezed you into clothes that no longer fit because I was ashamed to buy bigger clothes.
I am sorry for the times you asked for something sweet and delicious, and I scorned you for it; even tried to convince you that a few raisins would be good enough.
I am sorry I scowled at you in the mirror.
I am sorry for the times I forgot to wear a scarf when I know how much you love to be warm.
I am sorry that I have treated you like you were less important than other bodies.
I am sorry that I have treated you like you were more important than other bodies.
I am sorry, dear body, because I know you were made in the image of G-d, and I have not always held you with this truth.
On Rosh Hashanah, one of my synagogue’s leaders, Howard Hamburger, said “The prayers and rituals create the spaciousness and mindfulness that we need… by asking us to look at what we are ruled by. When are we ruled, when are we driven by our fears and our grudges; by our addictions… to self-hatred and shame; by our illusions of control and our illusions of powerlessness.”
For years I lived under the illusion that I could control what my body looked like. I felt fear when my body didn’t look the way I thought it should, and shame for being a “bad” feminist who hated her body. With lots of support, I finally let it all go: the body control, the shame, the endless cycle of not trusting myself. And with that burden released, I was surprised to learn what hid underneath: more creativity, more time, and more power to effect the change I want in my communities. Turns out that trusting my body to eat and move and grow was the same trust I needed to keep loving and creating and taking action, even in a world on fire.
So, dear body: I am sorry it took me so long to come home to you. Thank you for welcoming me back.