A Love Letter to my {broken} Body

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A little background to this Love Letter: On Saturday, we launched a synchroblog on SheLoves magazine: A Love Letter to my Body and Megan Gahan led us in her beautiful letter to her own body. It was a first for us on SheLoves and Claire, our Wellness Editor, and I were a little nervous, just because we were new at it. But even as early as 3am when the post went live, the posts started pouring in. The responses are courageous, raw, honest, healing and just stunning.

For most of Saturday, I wiped away tears as I approved comments and read posts. In between, I also tried to be present to my family, enjoying a week away at my in-laws’ home with family from near and very far. I had no extra room in my head or in my days to write my own letter. Last night we landed home and today, I finally got to settle in with laundry and water fights. There’s sunflowers in the kitchen and milk in the fridge. This afternoon I turned off Tweetdeck and squeezed in some writing time … I am thankful to participate in this outpouring of Love for our bodies. Something is happening and it feels a bit like God’s time for God’s women. A resurrection of sorts. You’ll see what I mean.

[ Perhaps Parental Guidance is recommended. I am spilling a lot of my story.] 

________________________________________

Dear Body,

You might as well have lived across the street or in the township, because the divide between us ran as thick as the Apartheid legislation. Words that separated people, also separated me and you …Place and time divided us between soul and spirit and body.

They didn’t think those words would reach deeper and wider and further than beaches and neighbourhoods and schools. They thought the divide would end there. But you and I know better. You know those words–legislative lines meant to separate people without–cut deep within. Ripped and stripped within our very being.

Set us apart. Literally. I slept at 15 Christelle Street and you, Body, lived on the other side of somewhere.

I used you for tennis and swimming, but always, even early on, felt awkward in a swimsuit. I used you for netball and riding my bike, as fast as I could, into freedom to the other side of town.

You knew I lived in my brain. In books. In words I poured out into my journal. I enjoyed the world inside my head where it was friendly and welcoming and fun and full of adventure. Like the Famous Five. I devoured poetry to help me find clues to the other side of the deep caverns across and within.

So, dear Body, I learned about you in Cosmopolitan. Yep, I did.

But you were wrapped in shame, not pleasure.

Always shame first, then guilt and maybe then pleasure.

Thanks to the puny man with the soft penis hanging from his pants on the train between Cape Town and Paarl, I associated sex with shame.

I had no defense for the onslaught. First from him, then from boys who wanted more than their share. I wish I’d had fun, but I didn’t.

Instead, you became numb. I drowned you in red wine … needed to pierce you with porn to feel something. Anything.

But you had been disconnected, life hanging limp from you. Asleep. Numb.

Come to think of it, I should probably thank the boyfriend for that night when he slapped you across the face and sent you down the stairs.

You woke up, a little. You got up from the bottom of that stairwell and you walked up, the franticness setting thick on your chest and yet you rose. You and I knew this was not us. It had gone too far.

I was an intelligent woman and the divides between right and wrong had blurred.

I never learned how to stand up for you, fight for you, protect you.

I broke you and allowed you to be broken. I rejected you, despised you. I gave you away. Discarded you.

I didn’t know or think you were worthy.

But that night, I said, Enough! I rose. We rose and we ran out. We ran as far away as our scooter would carry us deep into the night. And we started the long journey to finding each other.

Jesus, sitting with women around a breakfast table, welcomed me … us. Broken, shamed. Still a blur of what we could be then.

Those women saw us. And Jesus met us and stretched out his arms between east and west and welcomed us to fall into deep … deep Love. Finding resurrection into his Body that was broken for us.

We started picking up the pieces, you and I.

We nourished body soul spirit with Proverbs … like soup for a very wounded soul. Strengthening with every slurp of a sentence. We learned to read Psalms and moved on to New Testament. Then finally, we found our dance in Isaiah.

Those outstretched arms, those Jesus arms, they healed. They cleansed. They erased. They redeemed.

Dear Body, you and I, we know Resurrection, deeply, intimately.

I still remember the day when God words whispered to me, walking down stairs. Words that said, I have made you a woman so you can be a woman.

Until that day I had never worn any nail polish. Never painted your toes or your fingers. I’d never felt worthy. Never felt like I had permission. But that day, those words, they gave me permission.

More God words whispered, Take time to be a woman.

For a whole year I stayed away from boys. Learned to love myself for who I am. For being enough. Just us and God. We leaned wild and hungry into Creator God … learned to love ourself.

I even blessed the toes I had kept hidden from the world. Those two big toes. Where all our intelligence is, one teacher used to say. For years I never wore sandals. No flip flops.

But more God words resonated and healed: How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news. The good news that now lived deep inside of us said, Those are beautiful feet. And I believed the words and made peace with our feet.

Those feet carried us across many borders. Those feet criss-crossed New York and Taipei and now Vancouver. A few months ago, they danced in Burundi.

In Canada, we started a whole new chapter and learned to enjoy the love of a man.

Dear Body, I am no longer afraid to tell our shame stories.

Those shamed fragments have taught me to love into the brokenness. We know what darkness is capable of in us … what ripping, what stealing, what desperate reaching. We also know what Healing is possible.

Recently, after three babies birthed out of you and 21 kilometers crossed inside of you–beautiful feet running running running–I began to speak Grace and thanks to you. I began to traverse the distance from soul to thigh to tummy and thick ankle and speak Love. Those words felt awkward at first, but we have been through war and famine, you and I.

Now, in this war zone, I declare peace. Now, in this body, we taste of Freedom. Freedom that courses through us when we push into lies and pray and breathe out old story and welcome Truth. Yes, that Freedom that shifts paradigms and perceptions and has been etching out a new us.

Dear Body, I now love you for your brokenness and imperfections and the shame you were willing to carry and the heaviness of old story you lifted with me. If I had to do it again, if I had to fly again down those stairs, so I can understand a little of the suffering and desperation and loneliness of others, I would do it again.

I think you would too. In fact, I know you would.

You came into this world so strong, so ready to carry … You have carried me faithfully and you’ve never ever complained. You have given me a home to grow babies in and push babies out. In this home we’ve learned to nurse hungry mouths and hug long and cry big tears and fly and dance and pulse and beat drums and fling arms wide and embrace the wide open spaces between humans.

You and me, we’re an us now.

That divide, no longer.

And Body, if we can heal, if you and I can find our home and purpose together, in spite of the canyons that existed between us, I imagine there’s a lot of healing possible in this world. And I want to imagine there’s a lot more peace to come for all of us humans.

I’d really really like that.

Dear Body,

Ek’s baie lief en dankbaar vir jou. Much Love,

~i.

xoxo

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  • http://theconsolationofmirth.wordpress.com Heather

    Bold words like this prove that vulnerability is the truest form of courage. And that is beautiful. Thank you.

    • idelette

      Listening to Brene Brown must have sunk in. Dear Heather, thank you so much for your words, your visit and your encouragement.

  • http://justineh.blogspot.com Justine

    So so beautiful. I love how the backdrop is the bigger picture of your journeys geographically on this earth, from where you started to the land you find yourself in now. Living inside the brain and learning from Cosmo – all too familiar threads in my story too. Thank you thank you for putting this sychro blog challenge out there. It has been mind-blowing, breath-taking to read all these stories that are rising up.

    I still remember from your On Purpose article in Women Today where I first heard of you, that back then you wrote your purpose as, “To communicate good news” or something similar. I remember recently reading the ESV of Isaiah where the translation perked me to a new meaning, where I felt God calling me to more writing: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who PUBLISHES peace, who brings good news of happiness, who PUBLISHES salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” The use of the word “publish” made it new again for me. And I surely say to you, that your polish-clad toes and feet are publishing peace and salvation to so many who need to hear it, including me.

    • idelette

      I love that version of the verse! Fantastic–wow! The word “publish” certainly puts a new spin on it … You still remember my purpose from back then and that article … i love that. Thank you!

      Thank you for your words of encouragement. After writing the piece, I felt rather drained, so I needed to step away for a bit … Your comment gave me strength after I’d poured out. Thank you … Comments really do that, don’t they?! Makes it all worth it. xoxo

  • http://chaoticorder100.wordpress.com Kristen

    Thank you for spilling your story in such a real, raw, emotional, and elegant way. Love you!

    • idelette

      Thank you so much, Kristen! I so appreciate it … Love you too. xoxo

  • http://confessionsofanenglishwoman.wordpress.com Katherine

    Oh wow Idelette! Words cannot express how wonderful this piece is. You truly are so courageous and inspirational. Thank you for opening your heart and your life and your experiences that so many too have shared. You are an incredible woman and you continue to amaze us all. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous! xox

  • http://www.clairejdeboer.com Claire De Boer

    I’m speechless! You digged down deep sister and I love you for it :-)
    Beautiful words – beautiful you xoxox

    • idelette

      Thanks, Lovely … xoxo

  • http://Danielaschwartz.com Daniela

    Undone, com

    • idelette

      I love it! Undone.com. Perfect. xoxo

  • Anj

    Blessings to all of you. Thank you for repeatedly bringing good news.

    • idelette

      Thank you, Anj. xoxo

  • alie

    Probably the most beautiful piece that has resonated with me, from you, on SHE LOVES. I love you even more, and so respect and appreciate you sharing! God blesses you every day, I’m sure of it. I know I do.
    xxoo A.

    • idelette

      My friend! Thank you so much … Thank you for cheering me on and standing in my corner. It means so much.

  • http://www.pohlkottepress.com tara pohlkotte

    this leaves me breathless with the broken beauty that is love in human form. just beautiful.

  • http://www.jewelsntreasures.net Vanessa

    What an absolutely beautiful letter. Tears shimmering in my eyes reading the whole thing. Thank you for sharing. <3

    • idelette

      O, Vanessa … thank you so much!

  • http://Danielaschwartz.com Daniela

    Dumb IPhone! Trying to say, undone completely. So many things I didn’t no, thank you for raw honesty and your magnificent heart. Your writing always moves me idelette.xo

  • http://www.spiritualglasses.me Jennifer

    The depth of your writing has moved me. Tiny sweat beads popped up on my face and neck reading your words. It’s funny how feet can bring such shame. I kept my feet hidden for many years after childhood comment was made. Just recently have I given them permission to release and adorned in all shades of turquoise. For the first time in my life I am comfortable in my own skin. Grateful to have met you today through story…

    • idelette

      Our feet … #shakinghead … I know. I wish I could censor the words people speak over children. Turquoise is one of my favorite colours–haven’t adorned my toes in it yet, though! Just one living room wall and the laundry room walls. I would love to see your turquoise toes. Beautiful.

      I am grateful to meet you too. I have to say, pouring out like this really saps some strength, but your comment and the others’ pour right back in. Thank you for that. I really appreciate your words. xo

  • Tina/ @teenbug

    In a conference room in Delhi…[repressed tears]…

    “Now, in this war zone, I declare peace. Now, in this body, we taste of Freedom. Freedom that courses through us when we push into lies and pray and breathe out old story and welcome Truth. Yes, that Freedom that shifts paradigms and perceptions and has been etching out a new us.”

    Oh how badly…I want to declare Peace.

    How badly, I want to dance stomp Freedom.

    I’m smack dab of breathing out my old story and welcoming truth. But it’s a slow process. And I’m raw…. and this war zone body wants to be held. Held so tight, until I can’t breathe.

    I hope to bloom into the woman Auntie Zennie described in Burundi. Soon and very soon, I hope.

    But I’m waving a little white flag…under the conference room table… I want to declare peace too…

    Thank you for writing this. Thank you.

    • idelette

      Sweet friend, I pray for Peace and I will be there when the victory comes pouring out of your body … When your body starts speaking the freedom and releases the Life inside of it. I am sending a big squeeze hug all the way to Delhi and can’t wait for you to be home again. So thankful it’s soon.

      I love that image: waving your white flag under the conference room table … I love how you speak in images.

      I want to read your Love Letter. You know I want to. xoxo

  • Fiona

    This is truly a timely publish of words at this season on earth. God recently spoke to me from Isaiah 54: you will FORGET THE SHAME OF YOUR YOUTH. And this is so eloquently written and speaks words that I was unable to speak so well to myself. Thank you xx

    • idelette

      How fantastic–those words, Fiona … YES! I was kinda surprized at all the stuff that came out. I think I am finally ready to just share honestly. There has been so much healing through the years that I sometimes stood in the place of Freedom, forgetting all that stuff I’d gone through or just thinking, O, it’s old story. Who wants to know that. But God’s been speaking to me about going back there, to tell this stuff, so it gives hope that freedom is possible.

  • http://www.lindsaytweedle.com Lindsay

    Thank you so much for sharing so honestly, Idelette. What a heartbreaking and yet hopeful letter. Beautiful.

    • idelette

      Thank you so much, Lindsay! I love how you say it, heartbreaking and hopeful. I’d like to think there’s Hope for our most desperate pain. For our world’s women … even in the heartbreak.

      Thank you for your words.

  • http://Honestlyhere.com Hannah

    So raw and beautiful. What a way to share some of your story so eloquently! You and your story are beautiful!

    • idelette

      Thank you so much, Hannah! I love that we are getting to know each other through these Love Letters … Thank you for your words and for reading. xoxo

  • Janel

    Thank you so much for listening to His prompting and starting this synchroblog Sarah Bessey let me know about it on her facebook.
    This was an absolutely heart breaking and hope bringing read for me. Each woman’s journey is so unique and yet it seems there are aspects that echo across each journey. Your writing painted your journey for me and had me aching and rejoicing along the way.
    Your vulnerability and rawness speak so deeply to my heart. Thank you for speaking your truths into our lives. You ARE loved!

    • idelette

      Thank you so much, Janel! Aching and rejoicing–how TRUE! I love what Jesus can do … I am so in awe that we get to take all this stuff to him, right?

      Your words are balm and encouragement. I so appreciate it.

      Much Love … xoxo

  • http://greenphd.wordpress.com PJ

    Powerful letter.

    I never really thought of myself being cut from my body but, having read your post amongst other things, that’s probably because I was always asking some woman to be my body for me. That explains a lot. I’ve just realised that God made me a man to be a man.

    • Anonymous

      Beautiful honesty and I am so happy you came home to your own heart now…truly completed in Love.

    • idelette

      Thank you, PJ. Wow! I love that God spoke to you through those words … they resonated so powerfully and healed deeply for me–to hear that they speak to others mean so much.

      “I was always asking some woman to be my body for me.” What a revelation. I’d love to read YOUR letter … seriously.

  • http://www.rebekahruthbooks.com Rebekah Ruth

    literally breathtaking. I found myself holding my breath while reading this amazing, raw piece. thank you for sharing and for using the gift of writing that God has given you, to inspire so many!

  • Avery

    Melted…into a puddle of tears. This is my story too. I was a victim of CSA from a family member.

    I realise so many self harming behaviours have come from this place.I have hidden my body under layers of curvy flesh.I cannot stand to be seen by a man, it’s too raw and wounded.

    But I put pink nail polish on the other day, and next payday I am buying perfume. I am brave .

    Thank you for the raw beauty of this.I just love those words ” having breakfast with Jesus”. Yes I am going to breakfast with Jesus in my pink nails <3

    • Anonymous

      So tremendously inspiring…where did I put my pink polish? I’m coming for breakfast too…:)

  • Debbie Ann Ward

    Two weekends ago I let my heart break open before The Father and got up resurrected too…I so liked the ‘dancing in Isaiah’ and in my pure heart that God covered over when the beasts came…He showed me my pure heart still has been always my anchor in the madness. Just my shame and guilt were so deep…not for Jesus though…:)

  • http://neritia.wordpress.com neritia

    I tried so hard to not cry and to take breaths while reading this piece. I think my brain got confused, so I started to cry and I forgot about breathing!

    “Now, in this war zone, I declare peace. Now, in this body, we taste of Freedom.” – These two sentences had me blubbering all over my desk, all over again! [reminder to self: don’t read blogs at work or when you have bronchitis & full blown sinus infection *UGLY*]

    Then: “Dear Body, I now love you for your brokenness and imperfections and the shame you were willing to carry and the heaviness of old story you lifted with me.”

    Idelette, the words you poured out on this page glisten with hope, truth and love. From beginning to end my body wanted to hear the story, there was a battle cry in my soul, a tug of war between connect and disconnect. I am flabbergasted with the courage, strength and vulnerability of your letter. I wish I could just give you a big hug – here and now!!

    There’s an uneasiness in me. Perhaps it’s the fear of hearing my own body ask for a love letter – I don’t intend to write. Maybe it’s my fear of declaring peace…my need to hoard all the lies and dislikes of this body of mine. Maybe it’s the bit (read much) of rebel that’s rearing her head!

    I know I too want the peace, the freedom, the love, the companionship of this home God placed me in.

    Thanks for this – thank you for pouring it out!
    All I can do now is pray for courage…..to maybe whisper something lovely to this body of mine.
    xoxo

  • Tracey Adamson

    God made me a woman to be a woman – obvious yes but only just realised it now!

    • http://idelette.com idelette

      Hi Tracey, so lovely to see you here …

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  • Melaney G Lyall

    Your vulnerability reveals your love for each one of us – to share your intimate stories allows us freedom to see our own reflection. It gives us desires to find our own love story in our own bodies. You are planting seeds of hope for each of us. Arohanui my sister. Thank you!
    nə́c̓amət tə šxʷqʷeləwən ct Idelette

    • http://www.idelette.com idelette

      Thank you, my friend. Much Love, xo