I know you may be surprised at the title of this letter, as I’ve treated you with such great unkindness for so long.
I’ve felt separate to you for such a long time, like you’re letting me down, like you’re holding me back – but I know now, that wasn’t your fault. It was mine.
You used to be something I was proud of, all long slender limbs and strong shoulders from years of laps in the pool.
I’d always pushed too far, I think. Trying to taste just that little bit more, sneak that extra piece.
It was always clear you were different to other people’s. You became taller and broader so much quicker than everyone else. Your breasts seemed to magnify by the hour, skipping cup sizes and attracting attention, turning from something I was glad to have to set me apart from the crowd, to two things I began to resent. Everyone said they envied you but we knew they were lying, just trying to make us feel better.
Soon you began to turn on me, and I stopped making looking after you a priority. We slowed down to almost a stop, but kept chewing our way to oblivion.
I’ve never made you bleed on purpose, or cured my sadness through the blurry medicine of alcohol – food was my poison. I fed you and fed you until you couldn’t be satiated, and you couldn’t stay strong any longer.
Your once defined and muscular arms and legs lost their strength, faded outwards, became lumpy and bumpy. Your face and jawline sunk and your back became wrinkled with rolls. Your stomach turned into a belly – never your best feature but now, patterned with stretchmarks reaching across you, the thing I most despise.
The clothes you love no longer fit – your style has been crushed and contorted into baggy tops and stretchy leggings, all chosen to provide comfort and prevent sharp stabs in your flesh. There’s so many rules now; no skirts, no shorts, no arms on show and no tucking things in. You see pinstripes and camisoles and the cigarette trousers of dreams around you at every turn, but they cannot be yours yet. We have some work to do before then.
I’ve realised that in order to make you better, to make us better, we have to work together. I have to love you. And not in the way you feel like you’re forced to love family members that you barely know – I have to love you wholeheartedly and unconditionally. Even if we mess up, even if you’re not the perfection I’m hoping for, I need to love you to get through this.
You’re not….all bad.
If I look in the mirror long enough and move past my initial projections of fear and hatred and disappointment, there are things to love here already.
You give me a heart that beats and keeps me here, that’s big enough to love my partner, friends and family and to receive love too.
You give me long legs that I’ve always quite liked, which get that satisfying ache after exercise and have carried me through so many finish lines that I never thought I’d see. Your calves still have some of the muscular definition of days past, and I like the strength I feel running through my broad thighs that has come from endless bouts of netball.
You give me hands that, despite them not being as elegant as I wish, are able to make music and write thoughts and draw portraits. They can create stuff that I love, and that other people enjoy too.
You give me a brain which has its flaws and works against me at times, but that is also one of the things I’m most proud of. It’s good at stuff, at remembering people’s birthdays and telling stories and seeing things that others miss.
So, I’m sorry.
I’m sorry for punishing you for momentary gratification and for resenting you even further when you bore the signs of those years of abuse.
I’m sorry for blaming you for my problems when, if I was just a little bit kinder, you wouldn’t be holding me back at all.
I’m sorry for all of it.
I truly believe that we can get through this, the biggest challenge we’ve ever faced, if we stop fighting each other and push through the rainclouds to look to the future.
There’s a time coming, I know it, where we’ll be happier than we’ve ever been. I can’t wait to see you then.