It might sound strange to say living in a broken body made me more confident in my body, but that is exactly what happened. Five years ago I was in an excellent place of health, I exercised three days a week, ate healthy, and was successful in all I did. When Lyme’s disease attacked my body, it stole my ability to exercise, and I lost twenty pounds over six months.
More than once I experienced hives and dots from masses of bacteria dying off. My liver slowed down and my skin took on a slight yellow tone. I often walked with a limp, and my movement could be sluggish and sloppy depending on the day.
My body was a wreck, but I loved and appreciated it more than ever before. Though I learned confidence through illness I think that appreciating your body is important for everyone. Here are three parts of me I became more confident in while battling Lyme’s disease.
Confession: I was never one who kept up plucking my brows. For one, they grew back so fast, and two, they curled like crazy so I could never get them to their correct shape. Regardless, I stayed in trend in my early years and tried to pluck them thin because I thought that’s what you were supposed to do. I had no clue it was a beauty trend, and one that would have people getting treatments for over plucked brows in the future.
If I neglected it in my teenage years I abandoned it when I got Lyme. Prioritizing self care was essential to every day, and my eyebrows were not as important as the rest of me. After pretty much ignoring my brows for several years (and wondering if I should pluck them again) I saw untamed brows listed as a runway trend. I realized that plucking my eyebrows was as equally an opinion of beauty as whether or not to wear make up (which I wear rarely little to none).
made a decision then and there that I wouldn’t pluck my brows anymore. Though I do cut them a bit, I don’t care to pluck them. It might drive some people nuts, but I recognize that thin brows (or any brows) can come back next year and I don’t need to change my body to fit the trend.
Someone is probably thinking, Your skeleton? I know it sounds odd, but I use that word because I became more confident in my body’s form, not just it’s shape.
Before Lyme I had hips. Not a lot of hip, but enough that I could wear certain pieces of clothes that played with that curve. After the first six months of battling Lyme I lost the weight around my hips. I didn’t realize this until I found a dress I had tried on while I still had the twenty pounds. I remember my heart fell a little. The dress didn’t look good on me. I realized that I had lost my hips and ability to wear certain styles.
To some people they might find it a joy, but the truth is when you lose a lot of your body and you don’t want to it can feel like you are losing a part of yourself. What I’ve come to learn since then is to recognize my body’s unique shape, embrace it, and enjoy it for what it is. While I lost my hips my butt stayed, as did my meaty thighs. Wide leg and bootcut became my favorite style of pants, and blazers became a new favorite of my wardrobe—something I had hated for years because they added to my already massive set of shoulders.
Your body changes shape over time, through weight loss, weight gain, and so many other factors, but I learned to love the core that was there. I recognize that if I gain back my hips someday I will be able to style new looks again. For now I can enjoy trapeze dresses and shift styles that come from my carrot shape.
I have stretch marks all over me. I’m not sure when I got them, possibly during Lyme with some of my weight changes, though I know some came during puberty. While I tend to appear on the younger side I have had wrinkles on my forehead since I was 17. I have a number of scars on me from various experiences, like the one along the pinky bone of my right palm that was sliced open by a pencil as a child. (I was inseparable from a writing utensil even then.)
What I don’t want to say is that I’m okay with them. I wish I didn’t have stretch marks. All sorts of imperfections have chipped away at my body for almost 30 years, and I can see a little more of that every day, even though I care for my skin and form.
What I can say is that I appreciate these marks.
At seventeen, when I looked into the mirror and noticed the line on my forehead I wiggled my eyebrows and laughed, dubbing them my “joy lines” because that’s what they were—etchings on my face from the many facial expressions I would make in theater or when joking around with my friends. While I haven’t named my other signs of age, I see them in the same way.
I see the marks I’ve gained as the telling of a story, the story of a woman who fought through impossible circumstances, who God held back from death more than once. A woman who kept fighting though she walked with a limp. A woman who persevered through almost 30 years of trials and joys to become the who she is today.
The Road Ahead
I know people don’t like aging, and I can understand. There is a sort of sorrow when we observe the passing of what has been and that fleeting moment of glory begins to recede. Yet I have experienced old age at an early age, and it has made all the difference in how I look ahead.
My body will fail and grow weary. I will probably gain those hips back (but probably my belly first), and I’ll gain some more stretch marks. In fact, I look forward to some of these things, because they will mean my life was well lived. For me this body is a temporary gift and I can rejoice in its brief spark, despite its cracks and crevices.
Have certain experiences helped you gain confidence in an unusual way? I’d be interested to hear them. Trials can be so difficult but bring out such beautiful growth.
Thank you for Reading,