I found my first grey hair at 30. I remember the exact moment, I was sitting in front of the mirror taking out my braids and I saw it, a long, very curly and very white strand of hair. My heart skipped a beat and then I went on with what I was doing. As silly as it sounds finding that strand of grey made me feel old, made me feel like my body was failing me by aging so quickly. The rational part of my brain knew that anyone could have grey hairs, it most times has nothing to with aging but I was convinced that I was old. As the years have gone by, I have a few more and today as I stood in front of the mirror putting on my bonnet I realized that I wasn’t mad at the new greys, not anymore. I wasn’t mad at my body. If anything, I was thankful, very thankful.
I’m sorry that I don’t thank you enough, that I don’t love you as deeply as I should. I lose sight of what you do for me and I am sorry. You keep me alive, every second of every day, even when I haven’t been good to you, even when I have slacked in caring for you, everyday without fail you show up for me.. For the longest time, I hated mirrors, unless I was putting on makeup or doing something essential, I tried to stay away from them because they showed me everything I hated about my body. I didn’t like my face. I always thought my nose was flat, that my lips were too big, I have dark patches on my cheek that I really hate, my ears looked too small. I hated my many stretch marks and cellulites. I hated my arms and how they made me look lopsided. My belly, my thighs, my hands, I saw a flaw everywhere I looked and when anyone told me I was beautiful I pretended to believe them and went about my life not appreciating how hard this body worked to keep me alive.
I was filling a medical form recently and I had an epiphany. My body is quite the super hero. She has seen me through grand mal seizures, through high fevers, severe allergic reactions, bouts of malaria, chicken pox, broken bones, burns, hypertension, hormonal conditions, I could go on and on. Through the wears and tears of life, she keeps me going. My brain keeps my memories intact for me, I’m the person my family goes to when they try to remember something or someone or a song, somehow I always know.. my minds helps me navigate through the maze of mental health issues and I come out on top every time. My heart keeps me going, every beat supplies oxygen to my brain and blesses me with the gift of life everyday. All the parts of my body does what it’s supposed to do for me and I am thankful.
My journey on the road to self love and appreciation for this body that houses me has been a long, bumpy one but I am making progress, I can stand in front of a mirror now and smile at myself, when I dress up, I compliment myself and most importantly, when anyone tells me that I’m beautiful, I wholeheartedly accept and believe the compliment. I pay attention now, I’m doing better at caring for myself., at liking and finally loving myself. The word hate has ceased to exist in reference to myself and my body.
Dear Body, thank you for putting up with me and for keeping me going. Thank you for the grey hairs and the scars and fine lines, for all the little aches and pains that remind me that I am here, that I am alive. Thank you, I love you and I will do better..
“..And I said to my body softly, I want to be your friend. It took a long breath and replied: I have been waiting my whole life for this..“- Nayyirah Waheed