After 16 years away from the gym, I have nervously stepped back into the world of chalk, beams and springboards. I was a gymnast for almost six years as a child. I competed up until level 8 (there are 10 levels and then elite).
I was 16 when I quit. And I have missed it ever since.
Last week a friend invited me to be a part of an adult gymnastics class, and I hesitantly agreed. I have been out of the gym for almost half my life and I know my body has changed since I was an athletic teenager. I know without trying that I am unable to do the things which used to come so easily.
So, last night was my first time back on the floor, the narrow beam and the chalky bars which used to rip my hands and leave them bleeding. And I loved it. Much to my surprise, a few things came back so easily. I can do a handstand into a forward roll with straight arms. I can round off, and I still have a massive rebound (also I remember how to fall). I can almost do a kip on the bars and a cartwheel on the beam.
But to be honest, I hated it too.
My body remembered the way it's supposed to move, but it can no longer flex and move like it could 16 years ago. It was frustrating and really, I was a bit ashamed of this body of mine.
This body... This body that I have lived with for 31 years.
This body that cannot regulate thyroid hormones.
This body that does not sleep well, and tosses and turns most nights.
This body that has too much hair on its arms, and scars mixed in with the freckles and moles.
This body that has wrinkles and lines that no longer disappear when I stop frowning or smiling.
This body that has rolls in some places and dimples in others.
This body that has danced and flipped and stretched for years. This body that, though it remembers how to, cannot make itself follow through.
This body that has been pregnant four times.
This body that has birthed a boy who, despite all my efforts to care for him, to protect him and nourish him with this body, was born still and silent. This body that turned into a grave for my only son. This body that was supposed to give life, delivered death instead.
This body that has birthed a girl who, after a few hours of labor, was born by c-section. A delivery that filled the operating room with cries and shouts of praise, thank God.
This body that has been starved and abused and neglected, all by its caretaker.
This body that provided milk to my oldest baby girl for three years, despite how uncomfortable that makes people.
This body that strove hard to provide that same nourishment to my youngest baby girl, though it was
unable to after five weeks of trying.
This body that holds and rocks and sings, and dances and hugs and cares for two girls all day (and night).
This body that is a safe place to my daughters.
This body that has suffered through binge eating, criticism, and loathing, all from its caretaker.
This body that The Lord has given.
This body... that is the only one I have.
This body that is broken and weak and wanting of so much, but... this body is what I have.
This body that will be remade one day. But not yet.
This body that The Lord has given me.
This... my body-
I will try to love you better. I will try to use you well, and not abuse you. I will appreciate you for all you have done, but I cannot glorify or idolize you because I know your limits and your brokenness all too well.
I will try to take better care of you. I will try to be kind.
Because you're mine.
Because I cannot punish you because this world is broken.
It was not your fault that Owen died.