Monday, March 31, 2008

Come, meet my body.

My body is sitting at my desk, wearing size fourteen trousers (that's a twelve to you Americans) and a blue satin top which is showing the bulge of the bit of body that won't fit inside the size fourteen trousers. It has just avoided walking up the three flights of stairs, and has instead very lazily taken the lift.

There could be little better summation of this body of mine, to be honest. It is about to ingest leftover pasta from last night, a matter of expediency over health. Isn't everything? It's more expedient to eat the block of peppermint chocolate than work on the relaxation excercises. It is more expedient to sit on the train out of the wind than battle through a stiff north-westerly.

My body is nearly thirty nine years old. For the first sixteen years or so of its life, it was tiny, scrawny even, and insignificant. It was good for little except to draw the attention of bullies, both outside and within the family, my father taunting me as mercilessly as the vile schoolyard variety.

When I hit sixteen, my body suddenly discovered it was meant to belong to a woman, and took on womanly attributes that attracted a different sort of attention. Now, not only could other people abuse my physicality, I had the means with which to abuse myself.

For three years I had the ultimate weapon against myself - a gorgeous figure that attracted just the right kind of bully.

When I was nineteen, my body did what the doctors told me it couldn't do, and it got pregnant. The changes were as rapid and disconcerting as the whole of adolescence, wrapped up in less than a year. "Scrawny" was a thing of the past. After a first trimester of severe nausea and vomiting that saw me plummet to 48kg, I made up for lost time, regaining the weight and then some, clocking in at the end at a whopping 94kg. Motherhood had indeed made me - I was literally twice the woman I was before.

I imagined much of it would be syphoned off post partum in the form of excess fluid from the pre-eclampsia. I had no idea how transfigured I was, EEE bra notwithstanding, until I returned home from hospital with a baby and a wardrobe three or four sizes too small. The fact that looked back at me was tired, and old, and fat. Nothing hung right. Nothing sat right. As I began to exercise, up at 5am to do Aerobics Aus style while the baby coo-ed on the floor next to me, the weight came off but the weight of the world, the weight of motherhood, the weight of depression, dragged at me and my appendages, adding wrinkles, sagging and fatigue.

Soon enough I was pregnant again, and the transformation was less dramatic but equally exhausting. And terminal for my marriage, I thought. My husband left me emotionally for another woman before I was eight months pregnant, and physically left me five weeks after our second baby girl was born. I was no longer the woman he married. I blamed my weight. Then I found out that the woman he left me for was larger still, so presumably it was only my being that was lacking, not my figure.

So, I went on my divorce diet. It's amazing what your husband leaving you can do for your figure. What with not eating for six months, I lost 30kg and what remained of my confidence, which may have been an extra ounce or two.

I've gone up and down many times since then, in varying degrees of acceptance. I am proud, now, of what my body has done. What I want is to accept that my body, my physical self, is not just a container or a tool for self-derogation or punishment or comfort, but is actually part of me. It's as much a part of me as my reason, my love and my pain, and it deserves to be nurtured as such. My reflection deserves to be celebrated for what it shows me - which is, me.

So I'll eat my pasta, and enjoy the taste of the garlic and cheese on my tongue, and think about stretching out in the cool breeze outside, and accepting that as being as much a part of my day as the laugh I will have later with my coworkers. And when I laugh, it will be as much about the tongue and stomach and lungs as it is about heart and humour. And I'll think not about the weight of it, but about the lightness of laughing.

1 comment:

Camille said...

Wow. I love this posting. Seriously. A great read. It felt like I was right there with you. I felt the emotion in it!