This is not a love letter.

Once a happy child, I grew tall and quiet, like a shadow, practising the art of being a chameleon against bullies, avoiding mirrors and words, never learning to walk gracefully, whatever this means.

You’ve been around for longer than anyone else, witnessed my doubts like arrows, my bleeding sorrow when I crawled deep into the shadowlands of my soul, empty arms and womb.

But you could tell my story loud and clear…

Being driven under the summer sun to an orthopaedist to get fitted for new shoes. Stepping on to a glass stool where the imprints of my small, flat feet were recorded. The chunkiness of those boots we had to buy started in me a dread of buying shoes that continues to this date.

And a short, thick line, was carved up on my belly once, where my appendix was hastily removed. An elderly lady keeping me awake, calling for her bodyguard in a dementia haze, battery hens in the crowded corridors of the state hospital.

A low line, fading delicately, reminds me of the long, painful night when my daughter was born, of finding a new voice after her diagnosis, growing up to be an advocate as well as a parent.

For a short space of time, my body was the first and last cradle for the baby we lost, too, and that I cannot forget, because every day I miss the voice I never heard.

As I am growing older, I have come to realise my good fortune, the bittersweet taste of an ordinary life: standing on my own two feet, loving, living, writing freely, as a woman in a world where some of my dreams may come true – and it’s up to me.

And so, body, I have learnt to love you one day at a time, ally and not foe, and I won’t live under your shadow anymore.

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