Sunday, 21 October 2012

Escaping the Body

My favourite fashion blogger Susie Bubble recently completed the Nike Women's Half Marathon:

Susie's description of the journey from panting through 3 kilometres in her first training session to sobbing over the finishing line in San Francisco chimed true with experiences of my own. Since having a major back operation to correct scoliosis in September, 2010 the route back to making my body function again has been frustrating and arduous.

I abjectly hate my body much of the time.  Perhaps more so because adages about health mattering more than looks do not ring true.  I can cover my skin in pretty material, but I can't make my skeleton work properly.  X-rays of a body full of metal do not appear to represent me, maybe since although I know it is there, I cannot physically see the scar that covers it.  Boyfriends are used to tell me what it looks like.

However, one of the rare opportunities I get to experience feelings of appreciation for my body and test its limits is when I cycle.  Before my operation I became quite obsessed with cycling and getting fit..I used it as a way to exert some control over the body that was rebelling against me.  I lived on salads and always pushed myself to go as fast as I could over the 14 miles (7 miles each direction) I went through to work and back each day.  Toned legs and protruding clavicles let me pretend I could control and shape my body as I wished.

Nowadays - as those who know me will attest - I eat cake, drink beer and have clothes in my wardrobe I can no longer fit into.  I don't want to go back to starving myself.  I will never be remembered for being skinny and I cannot write (the thing I live for) if I am hungry.  What I still crave though, is the adrenaline of going slightly too fast down hill after getting dizzy fighting my way up the other side.

I have recently began cycling again and, like Susie, I am quite a wreck when I do so.  Gone are the days when I floated daintily along on my dutch bike in a floral flock.  These autumnal mornings I wheeze and wimper as I cut through the sludge of cold air.  My legs feel like they are wading through trench mud and I hate myself, curse myself, for being made of chubby beer fat and assorted aches and pains.

But I will get there.  Perhaps by next summer I will be able to enjoy half falling off my bike, a sweaty mess in the late afternoon heat, and diving into the shower.  After flummoxing through two years of pain, only imagining it as a means to an end, the aim is now to enjoy the journey once more.

Rosemary Ellen Cherry

No comments:

Post a Comment