I went for a walk today in perfect weather, down sun striped pathways, across patches of mud covered in panes of ice, cracked and solid and unsinking. I walked without my headphones. The trees creaked in the wind and knocked against each other, the frost looked like snow on the riverbank. The sun was blinding against the water. Everything felt calm. I walked for an hour and a half. Not a power walk. A stroll. A thinking walk. I needed to get out of the house, out of my own head.
I hate January.
I’ve been meditating for the past four nights before going to bed, following a programme I have on an app. I sit and focus on where my feet meet the floor, practice bringing my thoughts back when they wander. I’ve kept a nightly routine for the past week. I wash my face, do my teeth, get ready for bed, stretch out the trapped nerve under my right shoulderblade, light some sandalwood incense, meditate, set some alarms, get into bed. I’ve been in bed before midnight every night since 2018 started.
I hate January.
Before I left the house today, I made a plan for the next six months. I planned deadlines for funding applications in purple, festivals I have already applied to in green, provisional weeks to make theatre in orange. I am Getting It Together. I am All Here Right Now. Every word on that page told me that. I am Sorting Shit Out. I have my life planned until June. And then I panicked and I had to leave the house.
I hate January. January to me is a month designed solely for the purpose of regretting the festive period and everything that came before. It is a month that is in the calendar so that you have time to be Not Good Enough. And that’s it. It must manifest in different ways for different people, but for me it is physical. It is body. It is fat. That’s all people seem to talk about – weight. How they “really let themselves go over Christmas”, how they need to “get back into shape”, how they are “going to be good this month”. I hate that phrase. Get into shape. As if by carrying extra weight your outline suddenly disappears and you’re just an amorphous mass with no definition.
January is when my Food Brain comes into it’s own. This was maybe the first Christmas that I didn’t panic about my weight or how I looked. I ate what I wanted to eat. I dressed how I wanted to dress, I drank what I wanted to drink. I had a lot of fun. I felt good. And then January hit me like a tonne of salad and reminded me that I am fat and therefore should immediately stop doing everything and that I have to “be good” and every decision I made over December haunted me and still haunts me because just look at the size of yourself, Emma, you’ve put on so much weight, what have you done my hand hovers over tubs of SlimFast powder in the supermarket, I scan websites that are advertised on the back of buses that promise I can drop four stone in under three months, I calculate whether I can afford herbal weight loss treatment, I promise myself that I will go to the gym and then hate myself when I don’t. I order scales on Amazon and then immediately cancel the order. Twice.
I can’t remember it hitting me this hard before. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t body conscious over Christmas, I’ve saved up all the anxiety and stress and self-hate from that month and so have a double dosage in January. I have no body positivity this month. Eight days in and I feel no better about myself than I did on New Year’s Day, when a hangover magnified everything into a horrible graphic close-up. I’ve deleted myself off a dating site and then immediately regretted it, because I know that my physical self is not the reason for people to find me attractive but seriously, who is going to find that attractive, Emma, how could you ever be undressed in front of anyone, even with the lights off I am so aware of my size, it amplifies until my thighs scream, my belly screams, my arms scream, I looked at myself naked in the mirror and cried, because it all feels so hopeless, even though I know it’s not. I think I know that. I think a large part of my brain is still hanging on to the hope that I will one day lose weight and then I’ll be fine. Because I am definitely an advocate for body positivity and fat acceptance and self love, but I can’t practice what I preach. Not this month.
I’d been walking for about half an hour when I realised I had no idea where I was, and I wondered when I should head back. I didn’t know when I should stop. And the thought occurred to me that I could just keep walking. Nobody was there to stop me. I could just follow the river until I couldn’t. I could carry on until I got properly lost. And there was something about this knowledge that felt a bit like letting everything go.
I’m not okay right now. I am wrapped in packing tape marked FRAGILE. I am caught in a space between two heartbeats. I am covered in a pane of ice, cracked and solid and unsinking.
Geraghty out x