I didn’t learn to love my body until it became unrecognizable to me—until all I saw in the mirror was pale skin and sunken eyes, both strangers to sunlight. And until I stopped doing my hair or worrying about my make up because my body wasn’t strong enough to do either.
I had struggled with my health in high school, but it had never left me quite as broken as it did this time. A heart syndrome and Lyme disease overtook my entire body and left me in a wheelchair. I moved home because I could no longer take care of myself or function at all. There were months where I wasn’t sure I would ever be able to walk up stairs or do things on my own again. Even simple things became a struggle, such as sitting up while eating a meal, brushing my hair, or reading a book. For months, I did little more than sleep.
Like most people, I had a list of long insecurities that kept me from feeling confident on dates or fully enjoying myself at parties. I had sabotaged relationships because I truly did not believe I was beautiful, and therefore, not worthy of love. I stayed home to avoid social functions I wanted to be at just because I wasn’t feeling confident that day. My insecurities controlled my life a lot more than I realized at the time.
But as I have fought for my life, that list of insecurities has dwindled as I’ve realized that my physical appearance won’t change how many years I live or the quality of my life. The size of my forehead or my stomach won’t keep me from enjoying my family and friends or from pursuing my dreams. But my body’s health will.
I have come to love my body for what it can do rather than what it looks like because in the end, our physical appearance won’t make an ounce of difference in our lives if we don’t have the health to enjoy it.
I’m still struggling to regain my health and the life I had, but when I do, I sure as hell won’t waste it on worrying about my appearance. Instead, I will use my energy to worry about the health of my body rather than the look of it. Because if we’re really honest with ourselves, our appearance doesn’t impact what really matters.