Happy Birthday Jon
13th September 1988 – 1st October 2008
I love you x
Author’s note: I am usually of the school of thought that unfiltered expression is a great thing. Anything good I’ve ever written is usually a product of tapping thoughtlessly away at my keyboard half-concentrating on something else. And I have never, ever edited anything. However, I wrote something the other night which was angry. It was okay writing, sure, but I wasn’t happy enough with it to post it straight away. So I left it for a little while. Here is my first ever second draft. Anger removed and replaced with pure love, because pure love is what I want. I am tired of anger.
Here is a revolutionary statement: I am in love with my body.
I am in love with the marks and lines I have, that map out a life of rebelling against society’s ideals.
I am in love with the way you can touch my tummy for hours, and it will still surprise you.
I am in love with the way I give the best hugs in the world because I have strong arms and great padding.
I am in love with the way some girls really are just bigger than others.
I am in love with the fact that you will NEVER be ready for this jelly.
I am in love with my thunder thighs that look so good in a short skirt.
I am SO in love with the way my big old boots make a satisfying stomp every time I strut down the street feeling fierce in my plus size dungarees.
I am in love with the way my body carries me to my friends when they need help.
I am in love with the way my body gives love.
I am in love with the way I am the best lover I will ever have.
I am in love with the way my hands can touch-type and smoke a cigarette at the same time.
I am in love with my tiny little nose.
I am in love with my body hair for sprouting tiny rebellions all over me.
I am in love with my scars and my stretch marks and the messy artwork they pattern across my stomach.
I am in love with my cake shelf (it’s where I keep my cake)
I am just truly, madly, deeply in love with the whole of my fine-ass curvy equal parts Miss Piggy and Beth Ditto self.
And if I lose weight, well, that’s cool, but it’ll always be riots not diets with me.
(Despite the irony of me being unable to find that tshirt in my size)
Here are some more revolutionary statements:
Every body is a good body.
My body is nothing more and nothing less than the place where I store the important stuff. This body contains my head and my heart, and yeah, probably a few dozen doughnuts too.
Nobody who really matters will ever really care about my fat rolls when my hands write words that inspire people and my tongue speaks love bilingually.
Nobody will be counting calories when I’m sharing my experience, strength and hope.
I am in love with your body too. And yours. And yours. And Clare’s. And Elloa’s. And Jacquie’s. And Jemma’s. And my mum’s. And every body I have ever seen, met, touched, kissed, loved or just passed on the street. They’re all perfect, whether your abs are wobbly or washboard.
The scars and stretch marks on my stomach are interchangeable now, from when I used to cut my stomach because it was the focus of all my hatred. I would never let anyone touch my stomach then. I was ashamed that I had added to my own ugliness. But now, I let my friends rub my belly for luck. I place my hand on it to centre myself because it’s where my soul resides. I see the scars and stretch marks and rolls as part of me and I love them like I would if they belonged to someone else. Every body is a good body.
Breathe. Breathe deep, right into the bottom of your lungs, right into your creaking rusty heart. Feel it flutter as you breathe in. Feel that? That’s the beginning. Right there. You’re alive. You’re standing on your own two feet, or maybe you’re sitting on your own two butt cheeks. Either is fine right now, because where you are is perfect. Don’t move. Surrender. Stop striving. Stop working so damned hard at pleasing a world which is never content. Be static in a world of motion, for just a few seconds every day. You are the eye of the storm. You can be an island of stillness in the maelstrom of bullshit that has become your life.
Now let go. Let go of your ex-boyfriend, and his new girlfriend too. Let go of your parents, your grandparents, the history of pain that trails behind you. Let go of anyone who has shouted abuse at you in the street. Let go of the stories you have created about yourself, because you have been mistaken. You have been mistaken. Make up some new stories, before the old ones choke you like so many weeds. You are your own story. You have the pen and the paper so write. Create. Do what your freshly revived heart dictates. Buy some crayons. Paint your nails. Buy books from a charity shop. Immerse yourself in the pleasures you had forgotten. Love someone without demand. Masturbate as many times a day as you want. Forget tiny human concepts like ‘guilt’, ‘shame’, ‘lazyness’. Revel in being a creature of ease and pleasure and rest. Let the universe be your lover, the most considerate lover you have ever had.
Now for the work, because healing needs work. Nobody ever got very far without hard work. I know you’re tired. I know that life wears you down. While you are eating chocolate and painting your bedroom walls with glitter, understand that you are gathering strength for the work. Breathe. Let go. Then fight this with every fibre of your being. Refuse to be defined by other people’s opinions. Break out of the boxes you have been put in, by yourself and other people. Start to look in the mirror and see what G*d sees. You’re a fucking miracle. You’re alive! Against all odds and despite your best efforts, you have a whole day ahead of you to fill with wonder. So go. Do. Be. Fill it with wonder by opening yourself up, a little at a time. There is much darkness in the world, but lots more light. Let it in. Open the shutters and windows of your soul and illuminate the very core of your being. Dust off the things you have left on the shelf, like your passion, your creativity, your wisdom, your fucking MOJO. Dye your hair pink. No, really. It’ll help. Make an effort to be the light you need for yourself. And every night, rest. Sleep deeply and for as long as you need because coming up against your own self is hard work. Wear that lipstick you always thought was a bit too daring. Wear the clothes your ex hated. Wobble your belly and wonder at its gravity-defying jiggle. Strut down every street. It’s not a cliché, life really can be your catwalk.
Are you feeling better yet? Give it a month. Keep giving it a month. Don’t get down on yourself when your day isn’t perfect. If Shakespeare, Frida Kahlo and Charlotte Bronte had all been super-efficient human beings living a perfectly ordered life, they would never have made anything. Embrace your mess. Love the way you wobble through life occasionally making giant boo-boos. Think of your walk through life as footsteps on a beach, and don’t worry about veering off towards the sea, or an ice cream stand, or a hot man in tight pants. That’s what going to the beach is for. Look at the people in your life and ask yourself – what do they do that serves their joy? Copy them shamelessly. Make your contentment your number one priority. Eat three square meals a day. Admire your own cleavage in every mirror you pass. Do something weird with your eyebrows. All this is healing.
Stop again. Breathe. Breathe right down into the bottom of your lungs, and notice that this no longer feels like trying to restart a broken clock. It just feels natural, because you’re starting to understand that you deserve life. You’re starting to understand that you deserve life, and you’re starting to make the life you want. Feels good, doesn’t it? There is hurt there still, because this is where hurt lives. Don’t shut it out. Don’t squish it down into a ball. Don’t ignore it and hope it goes away. Breathe into it with the amazing life you are building. You can breathe the future into that past pain, and tell your past self not to worry, because you are coming. You are on your way. You are arriving in your own life, to stand up, dust yourself off, and announce that nobody will hurt, abuse or exploit you anymore. You are a free human being. Love every negative thought, action or human being in your life. Nothing will surprise them more. Rub your tummy: it’s where your fire is. Breathe into it and remember that oxygen will feed the flames until you are ablaze with your own magnificence. Then put on something beautiful, go out, and own the day.