My Body is Enough
Words by Zantika Ellis
Body. Heaviness. Endurance.
We can be so cruel to our bodies. From what we say to ourselves, to what we eat, drink, and think, to the ways that we harm ourselves and the company we keep. We can take our abilities for granted until something limits or restricts an ability we are so used to on a daily basis.
There have been many times in my life where my body has been restricted from walking, running, playing basketball, and putting pen to paper to write. When I think of my body, I think of heaviness – the weight of everything my body has held, felt, and experienced.
I grew up in a home with a heavy presence of domestic violence. Watching my mother endure countless beatings and fights at the hands of my father taught me that my body was a place for endurance. Early on I learned to believe that my body was made to endure violence, pain, and heaviness. I endured chronic illness, chronic pain, and countless injuries from childhood through college to be a student-athlete. I had no concept of allowing my body to recover and heal from injuries. I had no concept of adequate rest. I had no concept of giving my body a break. I almost felt like superwoman, as if there was nothing my body wouldn’t be able to handle. I pushed my limits daily to put that to the test. Doing so led to a Rheumatoid Arthritis diagnosis at 15 years old, so many prescription medications that I don’t remember, a Fibromyalgia diagnosis at age 20, more prescription medication, and years of constant illness and side effects from taking medications that were too strong to treat symptoms without any awareness of the root cause of those symptoms.
Until a year ago, I didn’t have a period in my life that wasn’t clouded by pain, illness, or injury. I am learning how to embrace the fact that my body wasn’t created with the sole purpose of enduring such heaviness. It can function well and move through life without those things holding me back.
An experience that has shifted how I view my body happened a year ago. I was able to play basketball competitively again after being away from the court for 8 years. This experience taught me that my body is resilient. This experience showed me how strong my body is, how much my body was able to do through chronic illness and pain, and how much more I am able to do when I take care of my body. This experience has made me more mindful of my body and of how I take up space in this world.
My body has held me through every beautiful and difficult experience. It has come back stronger after injuries, worked through illnesses, and not given up. It has shown up in ways doctors said it couldn’t or wouldn’t. It has played basketball while being on crutches. It has played volleyball with sprained shoulders and sprained wrists. It has raced in track meets on sprained knees. It has adapted to new cities, states, countries, climates, and cultures. I am still standing on the foundation of this body that has been through so much.
I want to think of my body as a home to light, joy, and love. I view my body as a place of/for endurance, as if it is not worthy of light, joy, or love if it hasn’t endured anything heavy.
I am enough. My body is enough.
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About the Author:
Zantika Ellis is a mentor, advocate, and writer. She has a passion for basketball, traveling, community, and mental health awareness. Zantika enjoys creating safe space for honest conversations.