When Your Body Talks Back

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J_MeganG-750You step out of the shower. Take a deep breath as the steam slowly creeps up to the ceiling. Inwardly tell yourself to have grace. To speak words of love. Of affirmation.

Anything positive will suffice really.

You turn to the mirror.

You want so badly to love me.

But that brick wall of insecurity is hard to crack, isn’t it? Hours of well-rehearsed put-downs, lavishly cementing concrete blocks of not-good-enoughness stand little chance of tumbling against empty pebbles of appreciation.

Your eyes narrow.

Your laser focus rakes over the dimples of cellulite, a full pregnant belly, breasts that hover decidedly further south than a few years ago. You sigh over the muscles that used to outline strong shoulders, the contours that highlighted definition in long lost abdominals. Every glance is a reminder of what you are not. Every thought a condemnation of what used to be.

And yet, even then, it wasn’t enough. Do you remember?

I do.

I see you battle with yourself to come out ahead this time. I feel the tear trickle gently down your cheek as you envelop yourself in a great green towel. It’s rough on the skin, but you scrub away, as if you can slough away the imperfections.

And yet, this whole time, I have been at work.

Pumping oxygen-rich blood through your body, giving life to a form you find inadequate. Regulating precious breath in and out of your lungs so you can speak words of biting criticism. Ensuring your muscles contract with ease as you tug your skin this way and that. What if this were a little smoother? Or this a little higher? Neural synapses firing with each creative jab.

Your intricacies are not a matter of programmed automation you know. They require precision you cannot begin to comprehend, timing by the nanosecond, rhythms even the most gifted scientists cannot decipher.

I continue to function, to thrive, to give depth and breadth and life to you, no matter what. You may love me or hate me. But still I give you everything. Undivided focus. Unparalleled genius. Complete and utter devotion.

Because that’s what it takes.

Maybe I’m not exactly what you want. But in all fairness, what you want isn’t physically attainable. And, even if it was, you would still find fault with it.

Trust me.

So before you reach for the towel this morning, could you do one thing?

Look at me.

See your atria contracting with purpose, your ventricles filling effortlessly. See that taut muscle flex in your calf. See beneath the surface to the interweaving web of veins and arteries that somehow all know exactly where to travel. See your intestines painstakingly digesting. The nerve impulses alive in your mind, lighting up pathways like the most blinding light show you’ve never seen.

Can you see it? Did you catch a glimpse? Do you see me?

No, you don’t look like Kate Upton. Or your neighbor who jogs every day. Or your best friend.

You were never meant to.

I understand if you can’t quite eek out the “L” word. But maybe today, you could just try to see me.

See me keeping on. Keeping you living and breathing and loving. Or hating, I suppose.

You’re welcome.

____________

Editor’s Note: If you haven’t read Megan’s A Love Letter to My Body, be sure to do just that. Plus: A whole community of women joined in the conversation by writing their own love letters. Maybe check some of those out too!

Question: If your body were speaking to you today, what would it say?

Image credit: David Sorich

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Megan Gahan
If you call me Meg I'll feel like we've been friends for a while, so do go with that. By day I run after two little dudes, but when the house is - finally - quiet I like to write, often a giant mug of Earl Grey Vanilla beside me. More often with a giant bowl of ice cream. I've worked in the fitness industry for over ten years, so talking body image and push-up technique gets me excited. I ponder those things, along with faith, parenting, and my desire to be a superhero over at megangahan.com.
Megan Gahan
Megan Gahan

Latest posts by Megan Gahan (see all)

Megan Gahan
  • I love this post, Megan! So powerful – I had to hold back the tears that were coming up (sitting at my desk at work 😉 ) Thank you so much!

    • Megan Gahan

      I have had more than my fair share of desk cries while reading a SheLoves post! Thank you for your kind words Andrea.

    • *hugs Andrea*

  • Amy Hunt

    Posts like this are world changing.

    • Megan Gahan

      Whew – big words Amy! But thank you my friend. I so appreciate your encouragement.

      • Amy Hunt

        I chose them carefully, friend. And I mean it. The potential is huge. If only we all would do this. Not avoid looking. Look and remember the miracle. And remember we’ll never be satisfied.

    • YES THEY ARE.

  • Pingback: When Your Body Talks Back | Megan Gahan()

  • All morning I have been tugging at a tanktop i used to wear often before having twins last summer. After reading your post, I’m going to go put on a different shirt instead, and proceed into this day with grace and thanks. Appreciate your words.

    • Megan Gahan

      Wow. That is beautiful Rachel. Thank you for sharing. Your body has obviously given you great, wondrous gifts. I feel humbled my words made you appreciate it a little more today. Much love

    • Aww. I love this Rachel. <3

  • Anne-Marie

    Ah Megan. I’m with you. Meds with this past two months illnesses have put 20 pounds on a small frame. I’m appalled and hate seeing myself right now. Your post is so necessary as I think we don’t ever arrive but go in and out if feeling and looking more well, or less. 8 years ago someone thought I was a movie star hah! Honestly I’m always struck by how lovely you are but this speaks deeper. As always, deeply appreciate yr honesty.

    • Megan Gahan

      Thank you is not nearly sufficient for your beautiful words Anne-Marie, but they will have to do. Know how blessed I am by your love and encouragement. I think I felt compelled to write this because of the misconception that after I wrote “A Love Letter to my Body” I had ‘arrived’ at some easy breezy place of body acceptance. But we do go in and out, ebb and flow, in our struggle to cling to the real truth. Thank you for your presence here my dear. Much love

  • sandyhay

    There are the pregnancy and after pregnancy body changes that leave us dissatisfied. and later there are the “after all your estrogen is gone” body changes. That’s where I am. Dieting and exercising can’t really bring back the elasticity. I think I’ll post this in my bathroom today for after my shower. Thank you Megan 🙂

    • Megan Gahan

      Oh, you are more than welcome my dear. I needed it for myself, and I am so honored it would encourage anyone else. Each stage of life brings its’ own changes doesn’t it? So appreciated your perspective Sandy. Thank you

  • Oh, don’t mind me. I’m just sitting here reading everyone else’s comments because I can’t put into words how grateful I am for your words.

    We are in similar seasons, you and me, so I hear what you are saying loud and clear.

    Especially minutes after just hearing about a stillborn birth among one of my writer friends early this morning.

    As I type this…I feel little baby jabs into my ribs and side which make me weep.

    Have mercy on us, Lord.

    Love you,
    Teen

    • Megan Gahan

      Oh honey, what horrible news. My heart breaks open for your friend. Thank you for sitting here with me and letting me know you’re here, even if you’re not sure what to say. Your presence is felt. And so appreciated. Love you to bits. Praying for you and your friend right this very moment.

  • I love this. my post-baby body still jiggles. which just autocorrected to giggles. that feels so right, somehow. <3

    • cjdeboer

      LOL! Love that, Rachel. I think my body giggles too – mist of the time it’s AT me, rather than WITH me 😉

    • Megan Gahan

      That is hilarious Rachel! I’m going to remember that one 🙂 Thank you for your kind words.

  • cjdeboer

    So beautiful my friend 🙂 I love your “body” posts – such encouragement and profound truth. xo

    • Megan Gahan

      Thanks so much for your words love, and for all the work you do to make my posts as good as they can be 🙂 Couldn’t do it without you

  • Cynthia Nichols Cavanaugh

    Stunning post! No matter what age we are this is what we need to hear. As a Grandma now there is more than can a page can fill of the years and years of work this body has done. And yet your post reminds me to continue to cultivate the life inside my heart because that is where the beauty truly lies. Thank you!!

    • Megan Gahan

      What a beautiful thing to share Cynthia. Thank you so much. I am so honored when women read what I write and find a piece of themselves in it. That’s why I do it. Be thankful for all your gorgeous body has bestowed upon you thus far – and know there’s so much more goodness to come! Much love

  • oh yes Megan, preach. it. sister.
    cellulite and boobs that touch your belly? I get it. I’m so tired of being hard on myself. Thank you for telling me you have cellulite too. I feel better now. 😉 And so blessed by your words. xox

    • Megan Gahan

      Oh gosh you only had to ask! The cellulite is no secret . . .so thrilled we could bond over it! Thanks for reading and encouraging me my friend. Love you

  • I just LOVE this follow up to the Love Letter to My Body, Megan. Perfect! 😉

    Oooo, really makes me think what my body would say to me …

    • Megan Gahan

      Thank you my dear! Would LOVE to hear what your thoughts on what your body would say to you

  • Thank you for adjusting my focus to the truth of gratitude for how we have been divinely knit together. Just like you and most of us in this Instatram-it world, it’s that which will fade that keeps me frustrated and talking ugly to myself while the real stuff, the stuff that isn’t seen but matters most goes unheralded. Yes, I needed that. Thanks!

    • Megan Gahan

      What lovely words Debby. Thank you so much . . .so honored this piece made you consider the gorgeous-ness that is you!

  • Lou

    Blown away!xx

    • Megan Gahan

      Awwww . . thank you Lou!

  • Sarah Joslyn

    Megs, this is PERFECTION. Oh how I love you.

    • Megan Gahan

      Right back at you Lovely!

  • Carolynne Melnyk

    A beautifully written post! I will be looking in the mirror very differently because of this post. Time to seriously love all of me. Thank you Megan.

    • Megan Gahan

      Well, I certainly couldn’t ask for more than that! So thrilled you’ll be looking in your mirror with a little more grace. Thank you for your kind words Carolynne!

  • Bev Murrill

    You’re a genius, Megan! Love this …