July 29, 2020

A Letter to my Partner about my Post-Quarantine Body.

My jeans don’t fit anymore.

I can get them halfway up my thigh but can’t pull them over my butt. I stand there, staring at myself in the mirror, and want to laugh at myself at how silly I look. And then, the wave of sadness.

I don’t feel good in this body.

It is bigger. A few pounds heavier. There are rolls where rolls didn’t use to be. My arms look wider, and this has always been a sensitive spot for me.

I think back to the other morning when we lay in bed and your arm fell over my stomach, and I flinched. I didn’t want you to feel the softness that’s there. The slight squish in my belly that didn’t exist three months ago when you met me.

All I want to do is push your hand away and apologize for my body. But the work I’ve done over the last year reminds me that I shouldn’t do this. And I know what you’ll say anyway—that I’m beautiful and that I’m being crazy to think that way.

But you don’t realize that no amount of compliments can make me “feel skinny.” And there is a part of me that still wants that more than anything. Instead, I roll over and shift your arm over my arm and hope you haven’t noticed anything.

I want to tell you how hard this is for me. How many days I spent restricting what I ate in order to maintain a perfectly flat tummy. I want to tell you about how I would think about food—all the time. How I figured out how to survive on eating the most minimal amount I could while still getting enough calories to function. I want to tell you about how much I exercised. How I could only go one day a week without the gym and how I would prefer to skip out on a social event if it meant not getting a workout in.

But these last few months in lockdown, and these last few months with you, have been different.

I ate for joy. I ate when I was hungry. I ate late at night long after dinnertime. I enjoyed delicious wood oven pizza just because I wanted it.

I did home yoga and let myself have more than one day off if I was tired. I moved my body intuitively and went for shorter runs in the park or long walks to new areas in this city I hadn’t yet discovered.

I cooked. I ordered takeout. We even recently went to our first restaurant together.

And from all of this, something happened. My body changed. Yes, my jeans no longer fit me. I don’t want to wear tight T-shirts because my stomach feels bloated. And something else happened: you are still here, and I am pretty much the same me.

Is this how it’s going to be from now on? Is this the body I’m going to have to get used to if I want to live and enjoy my life? Will you be okay with this new body? With this not-so perfectly toned body? All I can hope is that you would rather have a more present, a more alive, a more in-tune with herself me, even if she can’t fit into her old jeans.

I know what you will say, of course. And I know that these thoughts are all me. I also want to tell you that I don’t mean to have these thoughts, but that the world has taught women that we have to be conventionally attractive for you to be attracted to me.

I’m working through it. And I’m trying to focus less on how my body looks and more on what my body is capable of doing. I may not get my pre-quarantine body back, but I don’t think that way of life was really sustainable long-term anyway.

If there’s one thing we are all taking from this lockdown, it’s how we can implement all that we learned in the silence, in the soft moments, in the moments in-between when the world was no longer distracted with the hustle and the busy.

And it’s there that I hope you’ll meet me.


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