By Raeesa Sarlie
Dear body, I love you!
You will remember these times better than I choose to: The first operation I had when I was two years old to correct the squint in my left eye, recovering from an accident when I had to have shards of glass pulled out of my skull at three years old; and then the last operation I had on my eye when I was five years old.
I only remember small pieces of these traumatic incidents. One thing that serves my memory well is the immense pain I was in. I find it hard to express the agony of those events. I may not be an expert in anatomy. I cannot tell you the biological reasons why but I know in those moments you chose to protect me, to protect us. If it were not for your rapid response and defences, I marvel at how I might have been able to have remained so strong myself.
In these times mentioned above, I remember one thriving action and response you taught me: Love. In the literature of our time there are many misconceptions about love that need to be disputed. Love may be a feeling but it is also an action. It is not always about the romance, passion and lust. It is about receiving. In those moments I knew how much you loved me because you protected me from the pain, the trauma and solely focused on healing me.
During my adolescent years, I grew such a strong dislike towards my body. I was not as active as most of the other girls in my year. As a result, my tummy grew bigger. I had developed love handles and a larger derriere. I blamed myself and took my frustrations out on you, my dear body. I did not realize that I was wrongly comparing myself to other young ladies of a completely different race who seemed to have finer and more petite bodies than I did. Genes played a big role in this and I was not able to accept them or learn to love the difference in them until much later.
After turning seventeen I was diagnosed with depression. Many are not aware of the effects of mental disorders on the body: the severe insomnia, lack of appetite, constant fatigue and the fluctuation of weight. At some point I was wearing a younger girls sized denim jeans that were too loose on my body. I was scared and I drew the comparison in pictures from previous years and realised how weak, tiny and brittle you were.
As with most things in life, I chose to ignore this. I hoped it would fix itself but my dear body, you taught me something so profound: if I am not willing to take challenges into my own hands and fix them as best I can, no positive change will occur. I value and cherish this lesson so deeply as it changed me for the better.
Dear body, when I put it all down like this it is clear we have been through a lot. I went through stages of completely disregarding your needs. As awful as that sounds, I am happy it happened. If it were not for my severe disregard, there is no way we would have reached this point we are at now. I love you for all that you have endured because you brought me through many tough situations with a profound strength. I love the will you have to constantly heal me during times of illness, your resilience. I love this new found connection we have, where I now I understand and know what it is you require. I love that all of this has helped me not only physically but made me stronger mentally. Best of all, I love our love for running; how we never back down from it no matter how tough it may get and how we continue to prosper through all these challenges together.
Raeesa Sarlie is a twenty- something fashion buyer, blogger and freelance writer. To date she has completed various half marathons and continues to strive for more.