Why My Body Is Not My Friend

A Reflection

We came to be at the exact same time,

Me and my soul- my body, and my mind,

At first, it was easy.

I was a ball of life- with arms and legs.

Running around, rolling, playing, falling, and getting back up again.

A mess of hair, a runny nose, scraped knees.

A gap-toothed smile for everyone around me.

Playing with my cousins, with my siblings, with anyone who would let me.

Playing cricket (horribly), splashing into the ocean, squishing sand between your toes, chasing after stray cats and dogs, cuddling with my grandparents.

Running around, following my sister everywhere.

legs pumping, swinging higher and higher on the swing set in the backyard…

We could fly.

We could do ANYTHING.

What did I do to deserve you?

I swear I was boneless — I could suck my toes!

All energy, no rest.

Being young was the best.

But then… I got older.

I moved countries, and suddenly, you didn’t look the same as everyone else.

You were darker, you were browner, were you dirtier too?

People looked at us differently.

9/11 painted me a new sense of lowered self-esteem.

Why didn’t I look like my friends?

This is the first time I wanted to change you.

You were always a little larger than life… I always thought it was so you could contain all of me, but soon, I realized, you were TOO big. TOO round. TOO soft.

too ugly?

I started to hate you.

Stretch marks, like fault lines, spread across you — symbols.

The shifting of my love for you, like tectonic plates, it was big, it was ugly, it was violent. my mental health was a 10 on the Richter Scale. It was an earthquake, my hatred of you came crashing inwards, everything shifted, nothing was the same.

You were fat. You were ugly.

What did I do to deserve you?

Slowly, I started to punish you.

I hated you, belittled you (only figuratively, not literally, you were always too big).

You were my worst enemy.

I started filling you, you were an empty hole, I filled you up with food, and anger, and food, and hate, and food, and sadness, and food.

Then I would let it out… Not the anger, or the hate, or the sadness, but the food. I would stick my finger down your throat, and I would tell you to let it out. I would take control of you, punish you, for how you ruined my life.

Your teeth started to yellow, you had permanent bags under your eyes, your nails were bitten and bloody, your throat was always scratchy, you were piteous.

How could I hate you so much? Who would love you if I didn’t?

What did you ever do to deserve this?

We grew up together, you got me through everything, how could I repay you with THIS?

My apology to you took months, maybe years.

I stood you (naked) in front of a mirror, I told you I loved you, I told you you were beautiful, I told you every day.

I didn’t believe it at first. Neither did you. But then, slowly, I meant it. I loved you again. You, and your fault lines, you and your blemishes, you and your imperfections, you and your naked vulnerability, I loved you, you were MINE.

Creaky knees, crooked smile, fat fingers, curly hair, skin the colour of mud, you were beautiful, and I loved you.

What did I do to deserve you?

We grew closer, I took care of you more. We ran, we played, we laughed, we cuddled, we hugged, we grew stronger, more powerful.

We were invincible.

Until we weren’t.

Slowly, you started to betray me.

Really, you had been doing this all along. Building me up, letting me love you, but you knew this would happen all along.

I ignored the signs — You would never hurt me like I hurt you!

First it was our ankles. We sprained them again and again, and they never really healed, but it was okay. We were okay.

Then it was our knees.

Painful, creaky, they couldn’t do much. I started to envy people I never thought I would.

Women in music videos who could drop a squat at a moment’s notice.

Yogis, who could bend and twist with ease.

Women who could wear high heels, because they didn’t need orthotics — flat feet were a bitch.

People who could stay out all day, and wouldn’t come home and collapse in bed, thinking about icing their knees, sleeping with heating pads over their muscles.

I was jealous of everyone.— but I knew, somehow, when I got older, this would be okay, we would be okay.

We toughed it out though. I pushed you to your limits. I didn’t tell anyone, no one would understand...

The smells of muscle creams became our perfume, and a limp became our gait. We moved slowly, and always had an excuse: “I twisted my ankle”, “I’m tired”, “I have bad knees”.

Swollen fingers, wrists so weak and sore you couldn’t even open a jar, you were weak. You were piteous.

You were in pain. all the time.

I lied because I didn’t know what the truth was.

I lied because I was scared of you.

What did I ever do to deserve you?

I made jokes about stairs being hard. Everyone laughed. I would stare longingly at the elevator every time I was walking up or down a story. I would jokingly suggest it every time, but I was always with my friends or with a cute boy, and they “hate elevators”, so you were just going to have to suck it up.

Every day — a new pang, a new complaint.

What was happening to me? to you? You were falling apart.

You were in pain, I could see it, I could feel it. Why were you doing this to me? to yourself? to us?

I took you to the doctor. Poked. Prodded. Vials and vials of blood taken from your arms, bruises forming from the needle. Fluid taken from your “old lady knees”, I was developing a new sympathy for lab rats.

Standing, lying down, shivering, naked — but for a hospital gown. Dozens of x-rays, hours in the cold, we were scared, we were alone, we were helpless.

Ultrasound gel was cold — just like in the movies.

“Just to check your ovaries” — I had never felt fear like that before.

Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, Bone Cancer, Osteoarthritis, Osteoporosis — it was like a perverse game of bingo, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to hear your number called.

We no longer had the luxury of modesty, we were naked in front of technicians, and doctors, and radiologists, and interns, and medical students.

We were the main attraction at the zoo.

I was so scared, I had no one to turn to, you had betrayed me.

What was happening to you?

What did I do to deserve you?



Finally, a reason. A sigh of relief, I wasn’t crazy, you didn’t hate me you were sick.

Hours of google research, silent tears into the pillow, and then I realized that we were okay (for now). We had been through hell, and we were still making it back. This was just a new burden. More luggage that would last until the end of our journey, but it was just luggage.

I found that I could check my luggage more often than I thought.

It was shitty, but I could sometimes forget. With our colourful, new box of pills, and my new list of “do’s” and “don’ts”, We had full DAYS without pain. We could run down stairs (sometimes) if we wanted to. We could open our own jars of pasta sauce, and it didn’t hurt to live.

We are going to be okay.

You are still the one I had shared everything with. I had hated you more than anyone else, but you love me still. You carried me through everything… Or at least you tried to.

Despite how badly I wanted to believe it, you never got over my hatred for you. You never forgot how I attacked you, how I hurt you. And now, now you are attacking yourself.

You had been doing this for years, but I never listened to you, did I? I never paid attention to you, did I? I stopped taking care of you.

What did you ever do to deserve this?

I am not your friend.

But you are not mine either.

I betrayed you.

You betrayed me back.

I’m sorry.

I love my body,

but my body is not my friend.

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