Today I have a guest post for you, written by a friend of mine. I think many of you will relate to this, and find it useful.
I know I have been quite shocked at how I talk to myself. So here are my friend’s musings:
My body and I have had a relatively distant relationship over the years. As soon as I was old enough to be told I was fat (about 5 I think – a friend of my mother’s) and as soon as I realised that I would never be able to run fast or throw things with any accuracy, I began an uneasy process of avoiding thinking about my body as part of me.
As I moved into adolescent, if I did think about my body at all, it was as ‘It’. ‘Why is It so unable to keep weight off? Why does It embarrass me? Why won’t It do what the magazine bodies do?’
I dieted, on and off, for over 20 years and ‘It’ was sometimes good (well done It for losing a pound) and more frequently bad (It is making me eat bad food). I never took any consideration of It really. It let me down when it came to the fairly easy process of having babies (although It did eventually play ball) and seemed to require altogether too much maintenance.
Eventually I just tired of being on the dieting treadmill and was looking around to find ways to just stop. I was sick of starting a diet with vehemence on a Monday and starving myself miserably by a Thursday. I didn’t like the compliments I got when I did lose weight and the pity when it came back on again (and more). I was really really bored of thinking of food as the enemy.
I went to a workshop on intuitive eating, where we had to write a letter to our bodies (with our dominant hand) and reply from them (with our non-dominant hand). I wrote a stream of abuse – but addressed to ‘You’. My body wrote back ‘Please notice me’ in large wobbly writing. ‘It’ finally had a voice.
The journey of intuitive eating is not a fast one. For the last 7 or so years, my body has moved up to a You. ‘What would You like to eat? Would You like to try pilates? How are You feeling today?’ and I settled into an uneasy respect for the forgotten part of me that had been doing a lot of the hard work all these years.
In the last week or two (I’m in my forties now)I realise my body’s pronoun has shifted again. Taking a leaf out of David Cameron’s book (but with a lot more sincerity), We’re in this together. We need to take care of ourselves, allowing for what We want and what We need. This is a level of acceptance of my imperfect lumpy rather badly coordinated self that I’ve had to really work towards.
This change allows for me to think harder about what I want and what I need. It’s not about just craving something and being kind to myself and accepting I might like it. It’s about taking a more holistic approach, about thinking what the effects might be of that exercise or that food, or that sleep pattern.
I wonder if I’ll ever move on to saying ‘I’ and mean the whole of me. For now ‘We’ is feeling pretty good though.