Dear Ms. Body,

I want to start this letter by telling you that I am only writing this because I have to. I know there are a lot of things I need to say to you, I’m just not sure where to start or how to say them. I guess the best thing to do is just be completely honest with you and hope you will understand that I don’t mean to hurt you.

I can’t recall a time in my life that I have ever completely loved you. Maybe I did when I was little, before my memories start. I may never know. I do know that as much as I want to be able to love you, I don’t.

I realize that you have brought me a lot of pleasure, but you have also brought me a lot of pain and, somehow, the pain drowns the pleasure.

I think of all the times you have been beaten. I think of all the sexual abuse you have suffered. I know it’s not fair to blame you, but I can’t help how I feel. I don’t hate you all the time. I can see good things about you, but they are also reminders of bad things. Most of the time I can’t bear to look at you.

Your eyes, so green and sparkly, truly beautiful . . . the same eyes that were witness to so many terrible things and are so sad. Your lips, red and full, sensuous lips . . . the same lips that have been kissed painfully in a violent act of passion. Pretty lips hiding crooked, discolored teeth. Your voice sings so sweetly and says kind things to others . . . the same voice that begged for mercy or, worse yet, said nothing at all when it needed most to speak up.

Your slender, elegant neck was grasped and choked. Your full breasts were twisted, pulled, bitten and bruised. Your arms, the same arms you used to hug your children and parents, those arms laid helpless at your sides. Your hands, with their long, slender fingers, your pretty hands did nothing to protect themselves when those men tied them down. The same parts of you that brought life into this world were brutally violated. Your legs, so long and sexy, those legs wouldn’t, couldn’t walk away or run. Your hips, the way they swing when you walk or dance, drew the attention of all the men who hurt you.

Separately, you have some beautiful parts, but combined with your other features—a long face, weak chin, ugly teeth, crooked nose from being broken, graying hair and flat butt—your figure, the total you, is not what it used to be.

You used to look better, long and lean, but not anymore. I don’t keep you that way because you were so abused that I stopped caring. No matter what you looked like, you were abused. It didn’t matter that you looked good from the neck down when your face was ugly to others. Who cared that you had pretty eyes or lips? Those things drew attention, but were overlooked later when the people who claimed to love you targeted all your flaws, making you the ugly thing you are to me today.

I have a hard time getting past that. I pick you apart in an attempt to feel good about you, but it doesn’t last long. You are still the same body that was violated, beaten, and scared, never doing anything to help yourself. I feel betrayed by you, even though you aren’t fully to blame.

It just seems that every time I have really needed you, you have let me down . . . You don’t run, you don’t fight back, and you don’t speak up when you should.

It hurts to say these things to you, but I guess it needs to be done. I want so badly to love you, but I don’t know how. Maybe, just maybe, telling you all of this will help me get over some of the animosity I feel for you and put me on the path to loving you. Maybe in time I will love you completely, but right now that’s asking too much.

I have been forcing myself to look at you. I do see some good things and I am starting to like you a little bit.

I’m also sorry that I hurt you. I told you to do things that were wrong, then was angry at you when you did them, especially when things didn’t go exactly as I had hoped they would. I just didn’t care enough about you to treat you right.

I have to wonder: If I had loved you and taken better care of you, would we be here now? Probably not, and I blame you for that, too. Why did you have to freeze? Why didn’t you run away? Make a phone call? Do something? Anything! Why are you so weak? Is it because I’m weak, too? If I were stronger, would you be stronger, too?

Possibly, but that doesn’t matter right now. I can’t change my past, but I can work on right now so we can have a better future. You’re my body and I need you. I want us to be whole and complete.

I hope you understand all that I’ve tried to explain to you. I’m trying to love you. I want us to be together again. I want us to be the strong, powerful, smart, loving woman I know we can be. Please be patient. I’m doing the best I can.

Your Heart,

Soul, and