A Good Friend
I have this friend. A really good friend.
We've known each other my whole life. We're the type that do everything together. If I'm somewhere, she's there too. We've been through a lot together. Thick and thin. She's the best kind of friend you could ask for: supportive, generous, loyal. She's very good to me: she takes me to a lot of places, connects me with people, comes with me on every journey. Just this last week in fact, we flew on a plane together, battled blustery winds on the path down to the Giant's Causeway together, danced 'til we could dance no more to the sound of a Northern Irish fiddle together, we even picked up a McFlurry for the stumble home together, too. She came with me to work on Monday, helped me off and on the tube because I was so bleary eyed. She cooked gnocchi with me on Tuesday night and took me out for dinner on Wednesday. She's a keeper.
But the thing is, even though she's a ten outta ten pal to me, I'm often not as good to her.
In fact, I'm downright mean. I point out flaws. I compare her to friends. I say she looks shit in all her clothes. Berate her for putting on weight, for not running faster, for needing to eat the entire pack of oatcakes when a serving size really should be sufficient. You'd think that given how loyal, how generous and how longstanding of a friend she is, that I'd be less of an ungrateful little thing.
I had a bit of a hard time with my body this past week- my clothes feel tight, my tummy feels soft, I've started to notice the weight I'm putting on. And even though I know that's often part and parcel of this giving up dieting lark, and will hopefully put me a couple of paces further along in the quest to get my period back (spoiler: I lost mine because I thought carbs were evil and spent every hour God sent on the treadmill, you can read about it here), in this world that very simply boils down weight gain to 'bad, very bad indeed' and weight loss to 'good', 'amazing', 'goals', 'well-done-for-resisting-that-piece-of-cheesecake-you-sweet-baby-angel', it's tough to negotiate. And so, as well as consulting advice from my main anti-diet gal Alice, I thought about my body using this metaphor a lot. My body is such a good friend to me in doing basically everything for me: taking me to every social event, getting me to work in the morning, giving my boyfriend a big kiss when he surprises me by doing the hoovering, so when it's such a good pal to me, why I am so often such a huge knob right back to it?
OK, so this metaphor isn't totally water-tight, and doesn't account for the fact that this 'friend' also bangs my boyfriend, wears my clothes and withdraws money from my current account, but the point is that it's not cool to be so mean to my body when it does so much for me. And I don't mean never drinking Coke Zero or staying up past bedtime 'cos 'that's unkind to your body' type of thing, I mean in the sense of constant comparison and self-loathing and wishing, willing and wanting it to change. The desire, or at least my desire, to fit the mould, to fit a smaller size, to fit into something society deems vaguely acceptable, totally negates all of the ways my body consistently works for me. My fingers type the words that keep me employed and keep a paycheque rolling in. My arms give my Ma a hug when she meets me at the station, hung on to my Dad's waist when he would let me ride on the back of his motorbike and twirl my gal pals around a dance floor. My legs get me from A to B and all the way through to Y and Z: they've walked me around Macchu Picchu, ran races with my nephew, tap-danced me through seven grades (UN-HUMBLE BRAG). My tummy, that thing I constantly critique and suck in and will, over and over to disappear, fills me with delicious food and experience and hurts when I laugh.
So if you're having a hard time, with your body, that's natural, it's tough out there. But try not to be too mean to it- it's a friend that's with you all the way.