Monday, July 21, 2014

Challenge #1 Write a letter to your Body

Just Me Leah

Assignment 1 - I'd like you to write a letter to your body, acknowledging the things you've been through together. For example: What accidents and illnesses have you had? Do you have scars, tattoos? Have you been operated on? What have you been through in your body, good and bad? What highs and lows have there been? Does your body make you feel happy, sad, disappointed? Do you feel at one with your body or is it the enemy? What parts do you like and dislike? What parts do you want to work on being happier with? These are just suggestions. Make your post your own and feel free to add photos, art, a poem, or any other creative endeavour. - See more at:Leah's Body Positivity Workshop

Dear Body.

We have been together for 42 years. That's the longest relationship I had ever had. Its been a rocky relationship, for many decades I hated you. Really really hated you.  Of course I can't leave or divorce you, my self is sewn into your fabric. Without you, what makes me, me can't survive so we have soldiered on and as time has passed, I have worked out a lot of my issues I had with you. 
As a child in the 1970s I didn't have body issues, I grew up between two countries, the USA and Australia, I was lost in two cultures and you were not even on my radar. In the USA, I was the blonde girl with the aussie accent and back in my home country, I was the blonde girl with the stupid Yank accent. I couldn't win.

We nearly died, you and I when we had tonsillitis and had a nasty allergy to penicillin. We pulled through and I remember getting lots of Jelly. :) This was mid 1970s. I can only imagine my mother's horror at nearly losing a child.

I don't remember gaining a lot of weight, I only noticed being larger than everyone else in boarding school. I was taller, sure, but also larger, at the age of 14 I was a size 16.  Fat though I may have been. I was active, I played volley ball and did long distance swimming.  I dabbled in hockey but preferred running, slow running, to this day I have a duck waddle and turtles over take me, but that's ok.
Girls I lived with formed a family, coming from a non demonstrative parent, and being left to starve by my male genetic material donor, I had no close family ties.

Weekends free were spent with nutella and a book or a movie in the sick bay as I had no weekend home to go to. My mother lived too far away to pop down for two days. To be honest, I didn't mind.

I am top row center. Pony tail over my shoulder (Still to this day I do this)

My safe world of school changed in year 11, when my mother moved to Sydney, my brother didn't cope in boarding school, so she moved her job and her own life she had built to help him in high school. That's besides the point. I became a day student in a new school. Girls I didn't know and who had different values. I was now in a hostile, thin is everything world, and I wasn't happy. I struggled with my weight now, you, my body were now the enemy. No longer did I swim, or run, nor did I play any sports. I became withdrawn and threw myself into science and maths. I had two friends in the school and for them, I am grateful. Senior high (As my US friends call it) was a nightmare. Without booze, chocolate, airforce cadets and my studies, I would have quit. My grandfather would encourage me to keep at it. It was because of him and also being escourted to the door on occasions that I finished school grudgingly. 
I was active again when on base and reveled in the routine. It was like boarding school again and being in a flight was like being in a club. I learnt here that hard work soothed the soul as much as food does. I was often on parade and the hours there didn't help my knees that were starting to buckle under the weight they had to carry. 

 Onwards to full time work. I had been doing part time work at Tandy from the beginning of school holidays year 10. The first time I was exposed to sexual harassment was here by the manager, who exposed himself. Maybe he liked fat teens, but I was level headed enough to walk out and not return. I started work the next night at a kebab shop. 
Free kebabs... hmmmm My waist went out almost as much as I was tall. 

top row third from left. Kambala School for Girls. 

From 1990 to 1995 I worked in Aviation. Whilst it was the job of my dreams, I had to work hard and being a fat girl meant I had to take this into account with doing charters. Small planes have strict weight limits. My hands suffered a lot at this time as I was often covered in grease, oil or fuel. Manual labour was good though and I didn't mind the practical. I ended up falling into teaching ground school and had to spend more time on my arse writing classes in the theory of flight etc. 
I started on charter work and fast food was the only food at 2am.  On some charters I worked in the pubs that we stayed at just to pay my board.  Hands in the sink washing dishes  and then on to working on the plane meant I was often seen as one of the guys. Rough and dirty. 
A period of unemployment peppered with cafe jobs followed the recession Australia had to have.  I got a full time job as a Bus driver and met my first husband there. We would spend hours driving (aka sitting) then booze up all night and repeat. We were both being self destructive. What a pair we were. 
Things broke down as we were both unhappy. When items of furniture were thrown at me, I walked out not to return. I stayed with a friend. 
When I fell pregnant, the friend married me aka 2nd husband. This was a short and unhappy time for both of us, neither of us were prepared for a child and I was left to battle my body alone. Scary as this is a time when a woman looks for support and I found no one. My new mother-in-law did her best but she and I had a falling out just before Fabian was born. 
7 minutes old 21 July 2000

You, my body, did your job as a mother well, text book delivery and fast recovery. (Abs of steel) YAY!! At least one of us knew what to do. Alas my boobs didn't want to do their job and Fabian had to be bottle fed. (HEY!! We tried!) Food was a friend.. No sleep, a new squally baby, lots of trips to the mothers group at a cafe with yummy treats. We ballooned to a size 22 or so. Maybe bigger as tracksuit pants are stretchy. 
My 30th was an epiphany I rediscovered running. From 2002 to 2012 I ran. Shed some weight but never all of it. You kept my going for kms, my feet suffering and eventually my shins cracked, casuing me to fall and break a knee cap. Slowly I recovered but now I was limited to half marathon and the city to surf.  I found pleasure in sweeping the back of the pack and encouraging flagging spirits.
My last City to Surf was 2012. Hard to hang up my shoes, but now my feet would take no more. I was stuck walking. BOOOOOOOO

2008-09-21_0836-37 Yvonne in Sydney Bridge Run at Milsons Point
Sydney Bridge Run 2008
City2Surf06 race time
Husband 3 was always at the finish line waiting for me
Depression followed and with that food. Husband 3 had been my biggest supporter now had to deal with the black cloud that followed me around. As always, body, we headed for the fridge to soothe our feelings. Again weight ballooned. I had the it doesn't matter attitude. Didn't matter if I looked after you, or not. I ceased to care. 
January 2014, something triggered in my head. I needed to care. A close friend encouraged me and my husband had stayed by me through the dark period. (Metaphorically,  he had moved to Junee for work by now) I dusted my self off, swept away some black clouds and shooed the black dog away. Slowly, slowly, we are learning to get along again body. I have received some help and the year had been a hard slog but we will be friends again. After all. you are all I have!

Me today. 

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