Letter to my Body

Dear Body,

We have a lot to talk about, you and I. I barely know where to begin, but I think it’s fair to say that this won’t be the last letter I write you. Call this an introduction then, if you will.

I suppose we should address the elephant in the room: I didn’t like you for the longest time. It would have actually been fair to say that I hated you.

I’m sorry about that.

The thing is, I simply didn’t understand you and had been told a lot of lies about what you were like without taking the time to find out for myself. Growing up wasn’t easy on either of us – I don’t rightly think it’s easy on anyone – but it seems we’ve had more difficulties than most.

I know now that I’m not lazy and ugly, but I believed that for the longest time. I’d been so convinced I was grossly overweight to the point that I thought trying to do anything about it was pointless, and that led me to developing habits that led to weight gain! Self-fulfilling prophecy much?!

For a lot of years, I’ve felt broken and wrong. Maybe the broken part is true, but – KEY THING HERE – it’s not our fault!

Body, you are disabled. Literally, you have syndromes and disorders that stop you being able to do certain things. That’s annoying, but it’s not a personal failing.

Like I said, there’s a lot to unpack here. This is only me scratching the surface. Just know that I’m going to listen to you more, and I’m going to be nicer to you.

– Love, Ellie

A Love Letter to Lincoln

For Culture Night Belfast this year, the theme was love. Women Aloud NI had two events in the programme. At the one I read at, each of the readers was given a letter and told to write a love letter to it. I got the letter L, and this is what I made of it:

Lincoln, Lincolnshire, England: the place I lived for three years in my late teens/early twenties.

When I thought about what I wanted to write about for this love letter, there were a lot of options, but I think a part of me will always come back to Lincoln.

While at university there, I learned a lot – a lot of it the hard way and absolutely none of it to do with the actual subject I was supposed to be studying.

I fell in love with the city before I had even visited, having poured over guidebooks, maps, and watched a ton of tourism videos. Then, when I did get to see the place in person, for an open day, I knew it was all going to go well from the moment I slipped on some wet leaves while walking down the big hill and ended up with brown sludge smeared all over my backside for the rest of the day as I met other prospective students as well as my future lecturers.

It was all uphill from there. Then downhill for a bit, then uphill again, before finally going up in flames. Which is to say, my experience in those three years was… mixed.  Continue reading

Letter to my Past Self

Dear Eighteen-Year-Old Ellie,

First things first, you change your name to Ellie. It’ll take a while for you to figure out, but the person you’ve been to this point isn’t the real you. More on that later. In terms of the name change, though, it’ll be easier for you from a practical point of view if you do it before you go off to university. Getting people to call you your preferred name is a lot easier when it’s the one you introduce yourself as.

And speaking of university… I know you’re excited, but don’t study forensic science, it will kill all of the interest you have in the subject. Also, you don’t have enough knowledge about politics outside Northern Ireland to study criminology. Come to think of it, you don’t have enough knowledge of politics inside Northern Ireland, either. I know you have a lot of strong opinions, but most of them are ill-informed.

The world is not as black and white as you think it is.

I know this is going to come as a pretty huge shock, but you will lose your faith. You will make your peace with that. I promise it’s not the bad thing you think it is. Honestly, the change makes you less of a dick. Religion, as you’ll find out, is mostly a tool used by privileged people to hate and oppress others. You won’t want a part in that once you’ve seen the damage it can do first hand.

Try and minimize your own personal range of damage. Don’t hate on your own gender, or those who make decisions differently to you. Learn to listen instead of arguing ­– you are better than the example that has been set for you.

You are not your mother.  Continue reading