In early September 2017, I took a trip to Bali. It was my first trip abroad as a solo female traveler. I spent time with a host family in Bedulu, time at the eastern sleepy fishing village of Amed, and one night in Ubud. This message of love and acceptance came through me after two days of treating myself to two timeless days spent gazing at the deep blue Bali Sea, and immersive saltwater experiences diving and kayaking. If you have an inkling to travel alone as a woman, follow that intuition and go. See what comes up for you. Here’s what came up for me: a deep message of love and acceptance to my physical body.
An Open Letter to My Body
Dear Gorgeous and Powerful Vessel, My Beloved Pura (the Balinese word for temple) and Temporary Spiritual Housing, a.k.a. my Body,
I have spent so much time saying terrible things to you. For this, I’m so sorry.
The Brain that you hold in your head has spent countless hours of time wishing you were different. Cursing you for not “being [insert criticism] enough”. Comparing you to others and unnecessarily trying to make you look and shaped like something that you’re not. The truth is you’re always changing. You always have and you always will be evolving in physical shape and texture until you decide that it’s time for us to end this journey as we know it.
We know that undoing years of bullshit that has been fed to girls and women that their most valuable currency is their physical appearance was going to take awhile. We’re still on this journey together.man
Please know that I’m acutely aware of the insidious damage that I’ve done in letting myself believe that you’re a terrible-looking and under-performing body. I’m sorry.
I remember not coming to your defense when someone we loved and trusted said we were more attractive at a time when we were very skinny. This person lamented that our sexual relationship with them had halted and said what a shame that was because you and I were “so skinny and hot”. Even though words failed me at that moment, thankfully actions didn’t.
Ending that relationship was a brilliant decision for us, Body. Doing so opened up our world to choose to share our love and trust with people who could see, love, respect, and cherish us for the whole person we are: Body, Brain, Gut, and Spirit. That was a pivotal moment for us. It has paid countless intangible dividends. One of our teachers reminded us: “You’re only as good as the company you keep” which we fully understand now. And while I take full responsibility for the terrible things I’ve said to you, I also must take full responsibility for putting our love and trust in people who weren’t capable of loving us unconditionally just as we are. I’m so sorry.
Can you forgive me for all of the terrible thoughts I’ve internalized as truth about you? The part of me who has relentlessly criticized you for not being skinny, tan, tall, strong, rested, healthy enough? I’m so sorry, Body. I see how I’ve hurt you and allowed others to hurt you. I never want to go back to that. The Mean Girl part in me wanted you to be loved, accepted, and fit into an impossible set of standards of perfection. She cares a lot about pleasing and fitting in and doesn’t want us to struggle and be isolated and unloved. She deals in fear, not in love.
I believe that you can forgive me and I feel that you do. Thank you. For the rest of our days together, I am committed to speaking to you with expansive loving truth instead of contractive fearful lies.
You, beautiful body, carry me through the world. You allow so much expression to come through me. I am in awe of all that you do. I promise to do my best to revere you for the wonder that you are instead of criticizing you unnecessarily.
To continue the work of making it up to you, sister, today was dedicated to you.
We woke up to the ocean and never left its side. We gazed at the beautiful azure blue waters. We made plans to go SCUBA diving the next day; something we haven’t done in a long time.
We outsourced the tasks: laundry, cooking, washing up, etc. Because some wonderful people helped us with those tasks, we sat and gazed at the edge of the Bali Sea.
We got a skin scrub, a massage, and a hair wash cream bath. We drank fresh juice and ate nourishing and wholesome food.
We followed our intuition and said yes to kayaking and snorkeling with new friends even though we knew that the saltwater would strip the essential oils from our massage away from our skin. It’s okay. Everything is temporary anyway.
We ate what you desired: nasi goreng (fried rice) and we didn’t care if eating it meant that the stomach would protrude a little. Guess what? The stomach protruded. And the world didn’t stop turning.
We went for a little swim in the infinity pool and also for a little walk along the beach because that’s what you wanted.
We chatted with the friendly folks here and we had alone time on the phone. We reordered your drink because we forgot to order the drink with no ice while traveling. We are trying to keep good gut health here on vacation and so far we’ve been lucky.
Whenever I listen to you, you always guide me to do the right thing. You have never failed to guide me in the wrong direction. Never. For this I feel so grateful.
The implications of this gratitude spur me to take action and commit fully to stop saying such terrible things to you in the privacy of my own head.
I promise here and now: I will do my best to honor you, to celebrate you, to protect you. I promise to uphold you as the stunningly human homeland on legs that you are.
I also promise to lovingly call out the Brain when it tries to slip back into the pattern of verbally abusing you, Body. It’s still learning. It’s going to slip up a few times. I promise to hold it lovingly accountable and remind it of this promise I’ve made here today.
I promise to listen to what you’re asking for. I’ll do my best to prioritize it at all costs because you are worth it. When you get your needs met, we can do great things. From here on, I vow to see you as my ally, not my enemy.
I love you so much.
Have you ever struggled to honor your body and all that it does for you? Have you ever gotten stuck in a loop of vicious self-criticism? Have you allowed others to say terrible things to you? Have you ever chosen to reframe your thoughts about yourself? I’d love to hear your story. Share in the comments if you feel so inclined.
Breathe and believe, beauties.