I remember loving my legs when I was little. At how they could run so fast. At how they could jump in slow motion halfway to the moon and back. I remember loving the feeling my body lifting up and hanging in the air for just a split second. My pigtails upended in midair while my raised arms felt the coolness of outer space on my fingertips. My legs were my freedom that allowed me to own my body. I could control where my body went. How fast it went. What direction it went. I could use my legs to protect myself. Those little legs were strong. They were brave. They were fearless.
But slowly time eroded those little legs and what trauma had given me. Autoimmune disease took them over one by one. Pain began to infest the intricacies of my joints. My muscles began to spasm, pull, and swell. My nerve endings began to wither. The hormones of puberty added the layer of fat to my legs and buttox as my Grandmother’s genes assumed dominance and dictated the size of my rear.
In college I worked tirelessly to thin them out. Tennis. The Gym. Running. Biking. Roller blading. Walking. Starving my body. Every other part of my thinned down, except my legs. My emaciated face didn’t match the plumpness of my thighs.
My disease has only progressed. My legs are now full of cellulite and stretch marks. The edema expected from my disease has set in. I live in daily pain starting in my toes and now progressing into my upper abdomen and through my finger tips. Dry elastic bands replaced my muscles and pull me inward and threaten to snap if I move outward.
But I persist. I move on. Every day I take up my burden and I walk. While my legs look much older and worn than the rest of my body, they move. I don’t like them, but I appreciate them. Underneath their disability, they are preposterously strong. While my mind wants to hate my body so malevolently, I am learning that underneath all that my Brain and Body make me face every day… I am preposterously strong. Strength doesn’t have to be thin, muscular, perfectly curated to the runway or mini skirt outfits. Strength is more often than not buried deep beneath ugliness and pain hiding out lifting us every day towards hope and love.