I know it’s taken me a full 45 years and two months to realise it, but two days ago I was struck with a very important truth. You are my friend.
I know I knew this at the start of my life. I loved the fact you got my body moving so I could go and explore. I loved the sensation of sun on you, the feeling of being touched, and cuddled and the food — yes, I have always loved the food we’ve shared.
I was not aware you were anything but my friend until people started to tell me the way you were was not right for me — that’s we shouldn’t enjoy hanging out together so much. It was then that I learned that it was not ok to have fat friends, so I couldn’t be friends with you my body, because you were fat.
I’m sorry, that as a child I was not a friend that said “I like you just the way you are” and instead allowed other people to tell me you weren’t my friend.
Especially as, when I look at you back then, you weren’t fat. You were definitely “rounded”, but you were growing into yourself, and you didn’t need to be starved and punished for being different to all the other bodies around you. You moved. You were not over eating or eating junk. You were just a little bit different to the others.
I’m sorry for all the times I stood in front of the mirror as a child and told you I hated you for not being the same as the magazine pictures, and the same as my friends. For not seeing you were my friend and the body I was given, and that I wasted so much time trying to change you with starvation. That I created in you a fear of hunger, and a fear of losing fat because you never quite knew when I’d try that crazy crap again.
I’m sorry for not valuing you when I was falling in love, and not allowing you to only be loved by people who actually loved both you and me, your brain and personality — that somehow you became my friend I was ashamed of, instead of my best friend that was part of our package deal — love us both or do not love us at all. That I allowed myself to be with people who did not deserve your company, because somehow your fat was a balance to their mistreatment.
I’m sorry for not fully appreciating you, when you not only kept me alive when I almost died in 2000, but you also protected and nourished my unborn child and then fed her and her younger siblings over seven years. I’m sorry I did not see then, as I certainly do now, that you carry the magic of being able to create, and carry and feed life, and this is a huge and incredible gift.
I thank you that your softness was a comfort to my children, and I thank you that your softness was a comfort to me as well. I thank you for the times my children have taken refuge in my arms and sunk into the pillow of my soft belly and rested, and it was not hard like a stone, and that was ok, because they did not want a hard mother to comfort them.
I thank you for being a friend to me though all my stressful times — for holding me and carrying me through the horrendous stress of near death via my surprise heart condition, attacks from a violent partner, of surviving as a single parent, of uncertain futures and more by taking that stress and holding it into my stomach, and the rest of our body, so I could get through another day.
I know that people who see me now can not see how you did that then and do not know our shared story, and they make assumptions and judgements about you — that you are lazy, and weak. But I thank you for your strength. I thank you for your drive to survive. I thank you for that, even though it ended up wounding your body, and making it harder for you to process certain foods, and you still carry all that stress even though the threat has passed.
I thank you for sticking with me when I’ve tried to change you, when I’ve not accepted you as you are today.
I thank you for putting up with the times I’ve not listened to you when you have eaten enough, or when I’ve pushed you to the brink of health by not giving you all that you need. I feel we’ve often been at war, you and I, while I’d forgotten you are my friend.
Thank you for having patience with me, while I worked out that what I really needed to focus on is not how big or small you are (because why would I choose a friend on appearance!), but on what I can do to help you work better. Thank you for helping me see what foods are best for you, and what foods are not. For helping me find exercise I love to do with you (hello Pilates and swimming and walks), and exercise I can give up for good. (good bye running!)
I’m so thankful we’ve found a love in our life that has brought acceptance, stability and balance, and through that we’ve both begun to learn there is no danger of food not being here tomorrow, that we are safe, and we are happy.
As I stood in front of the mirror a few days ago, I took time to really look at you and really thank each part of you for being with me. From the bits I have always loved, to the bits I’ve learned to accept, to the bits I don’t like but know they are part of you know — each part of you is my friend and is with me
I am thankful that I once again remember you, my body, is not my enemy.
You are my friend.
And for that, I thank you.