I cancelled meeting up with a friend the other night because I did not feel safe with my body being exposed in public. It was not the first time. I feel bad about it, and conflicted, too. The thought of my friend hanging out alone with people she barely knows puts a sinking feeling at the pit of my stomach. But the thought of me being vulnerable to the world makes me cringe and feel overwhelmingly anxious. I keep telling myself that it’s fine and that I should prioritize myself, but I can’t shake off the idea that I am a terrible, selfish friend (in particular) and person (in general).

This is an everyday scenario in my life. If I were to honestly record all my thoughts and feelings in my journal, this would be the gist of, like, 368 entries.

I haven’t fully embraced the idea that I am in a love-hate relationship with my body. I want to be constantly in love with it; I want to be in love with myself, always. I don’t ever want to entertain comments about my body save for the “You look friggin’ amazing” kinds. I want to inculcate in my mind, heart, soul, and anatomy entire that I am not trapped in my body, I am trapped in other people’s perception of my body. But these kinds of days, they always come, and there’s no stopping them. An affirmation and a li’l sprinkle of a sunshine-y thought here and there fends them off for a while, but they always visit and linger. They are unwanted lovers, unwelcome visitors: They are thieves, and they are masters of the craft.

I wanted to curl up into a ball—to tuck away my legs, tummy, and all the parts of my body deemed “excessive” by the people I meet regularly, by society. I wanted to be there for my friend—to create beautiful memories and enjoy the night.

I chose self-care and to shield myself. Does this make me less of a friend? What about my friendship with my body?

I am still conflicted. I want to trust my decisions, the words I speak, and my ideas. I want to trust myself completely, undoubtedly. ♦