It’s hard not to resent this body. Even while on a long weekend where there’s no pressure at all, I wake up feeling unslept, tender and fragile, muscles hurting in nonsensical places, no discernible pattern or reason behind their niggling and aches.
As the sun peeks through my venetian blinds reminding me that this is the kind of early Spring morning where one should joyfully leap out of bed and embrace life, I squint, eyes crusty and blurry from sleep. I’m trying to slowly stretch and drag this body into the day, wondering why sleep has apparently made just one of my calves tense and knotted, why my mind feels like clag glue when it should feel refreshed, why my arms are so heavy when I have engaged in exactly zilch exertion.
And then there’s just the expanse of it. Having never known what it is like to have a small body, I perhaps feel less repulsion towards it than the disgusted person on the street (I can see you, I can see it in your eyes, and to the 20-somethings at the back of the pack of a cohort of Chinese university tourists on campus the other day — I saw you take a sneaky photo of me and snigger, presumably slagging me off in Mandarin). Even as I read blogs full of body positive messages a decade before such language was Instagram-popular and celebrity-backed, I never loved it but felt some respect for its ability to do what it needed, to take me where I needed to go, and some pride in giving no fucks about where such a body should and could go, or what it should wear. But now there is a frustration in the thwarting of all my efforts to control it, the way it doesn’t seem to adhere to ‘calories in calories out’, the way it might stop me getting things I want (like a child or a partner), the way it lumps and bulges, the way I have to try to reign it in and stop it being so self-destructive with tablets every morning and night, the way I just feel so huge in small spaces, the way I will be going about my day not thinking about it and then catch sight of a reflection that reminds me that everyone else is looking at THIS and not necessarily at me more deeply. The sinking feeling, having watched my mother grapple with low energy for decades, that this illness is biological destiny programmed into each cell.
Forcing myself up, grasping for a water bottle and the pills I take to make this body not too dizzy, not too unpredicably bleedy and crampy, not too insulin resistant, not too sad and panicked — it all seems pretty futile. It’s tired and it hurts, and it wants to fall back on the pillows even when I want to try to get some things done. It also doesn’t want to swallow a multivitamin the size of a horse tranquiliser in the hope that might help.
I’ve always battled with my body but now its a day-to-day conflict between it and my spirit, and it is starting to feel more and more that my spirit is losing out.