On Sunday evening, I caught the last of the ABC miniseries ‘The Beautiful Lie’ – a modern day adaption of one of my favourite books, Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. I didn’t love the series; in fact, I found it frustrating, and I distracted myself by reading excerpts from the book while watching the show.
But there, in the final episode, was a line that had me thinking. It came from Kitty, one of the characters who had lived with an eating disorder for much of her life. She had just given birth and was watching her beautiful baby boy and said to her partner: ‘You know, I spent so many years hating my body. All I could see was what it looked like and not what it could do.’
I wrote down her words quickly because they resonated so much. I too have spent a long time hating my body. As well as never being satisfied with how it looks, I focus on what it can’t do. I focus on the autoimmune mess that I’ve come to live with, and fertility issues and anything else that is wrong with it.
And in all that – in all the complaints and revulsion, I forget to acknowledge what it can do; what it has done.
When I complain about my faulty, broken body, or grumble about how I don’t like the way I look in a certain outfit, I am forgetting the good things it can do and that’s kind of disrespectful. Because it has done lots.
Today, our beautiful baby girl is eleven. I need to stop blinking, because each time I do, I look up and she is another year older and another ten centimetres taller. She is such a great kid and we are so utterly proud of her.
And my body conceived her and grew her and nourished her. And once she was delivered, it fed her, and it managed, through the lack of sleep and complete and utter new-baby fog, to look after her and keep her safe.
My body rolled around on the rug with her and together we rolled down grassy hills; it danced and we ran with scarves in our hippy creative dance classes at Mangala; it sat for hours on the floor of libraries and bookstores as we read; it chased her around playgrounds, pushed her on swings, caught her on slides; it climbed play equipment and trees; it’s answered a million ‘but why?’ questions; it walked for miles and miles and miles as we explored cities around the world.
And it has cuddled and hugged and kissed her beautiful little body, enveloping her in love.
Even with all the things that I complain about and the things that I hate – even with a health condition that sometimes needs immediate attention – my body has still done all those things. It doesn’t matter how it looks and it doesn’t matter about the things that it can’t do. I may not be able to make my own insulin, but I can act as a pretend pancreas pretty well and do a hell of a lot of other things too. It may not have given me as many children as I would have liked; but it did give me one wonderful little girl. And that is enough. So very, very much enough.