Recently I’ve been inspired by a post from Lizzo. In a video Lizzo is seen loving on her body—sending it affirmations, thanking it for giving her life. So, this one particular morning, I wanted to send my body some love.
Since my surgeries, I have felt quite disconnected from my body. I was afraid to touch the catheter coming out of my neck. I was afraid to run my fingers across my wounds. I was afraid to look at myself. Why? Because I don’t see many bodies like my own. I don’t watch TV shows where the characters have catheters or stretch marks or a moon face. I don’t see me in the world.
So, that morning I put on my favorite bralette and looked at my reflection. What did I see?
I saw the catheters that have kept me alive. I saw the stretch marks that remind me of how far I’ve come. I saw my swollen face, the side effect of this cruel magic called lupus. I saw Tonya, a woman who has survived far more than she gives herself credit for.
I remember when I arrived at the dialysis clinic. I was wearing my favorite blue dress—the one with the flowers. My hair was braided, and my skin was having a good day. The lights in the facility matched the soundtrack of the machines and patients aching in pain. It was the last place anyone would want to feel beautiful. But my nurse told me that I looked sexy. I was surprised and almost denied it. But you know what? She was right—is right. I am sexy. I am gorgeous. I am stunning. I am brilliant. I am more than enough. I am abundance.
I am not my disease. I am not the hurt in my kidney, the healthy one draped in the small of my back. I am not the oversleeping and the inflammation. I am not the rash on my left arm. I am not the creek of stretch marks flooding up my thighs and my waist.
I am not the fear of the hospital. I am not depression, the swallows of doubt come to take me home. I am not the lazy or the excuse. I am not the reason I cross the street, the headphones I use to block the noise, the words drenched in vulgar and vulture. I am not the trauma.
I am gorgeous in my sickness. I am perfect in my illness. I am the fight for stability. I am surely a woman—both damaged and dancing, both in pain and in progress—a body all my own.
So, here’s to those of us who don’t see our bodies represented May we rep our-damn-selves. May we take up space and not hide the stories we are so beautifully living. We are giants of survival, and it’s hard for a giant to hide. We are meant to be seen.
How are you being seen, friend? How are you taking up space?
And as always: I love us. I see us. I am forever proud of us.
Beautifully written. ICU. Shine on.
Irene Faith Purdie says
I absolutely loved this testimony. I have been through kidney disease and dialysis & totally relate. Thank you for helping me see past my scars. Very inspirational story.
Beautiful story! We are all unique, never compare YOUR beauty to someone else. You cannot measure yourself with some else’s measuring stick.
Salahuddin Bonnie W says
Phenomenal woman, keep rising in all your majesty.
This is so inspiring. As women generally, we are so much into the flaws in ourselves because we know that’s what our haters see first. We want to be perfect in every way to avoid criticism, that we fail to see the beauty in our perfect imperfections- our distinctive characteristics and personalities.
Be always proud of your flaws and scars and all, as they tell the powerful story of who you are, where you have been, the struggles you have been through and how you stand strong and solid today- being the best version of yourself yet.
You only live once! Enjoy it with scars and all 😉
Denise k says
This is a beautiful essay. I celebrate you in all of your power and beauty Tonya❤️
Edna L Moffittn says
A beautiful presentation of what I am and that which l
Monique Wilson says
Thank u for transparency 💕🙏🏼💪🏼