You see, there has never been neutrality in our interactions. I have conditioned myself too well to merely consider you just another food group; to me, you have always been the most important and yet most misunderstood and feared of them all; much like that good-for-nothing boyfriend all of your friends have tired of trying to convince you to leave; the one you shamelessly run back to in moments of weakness.
From childhood, I have known that you wield a power over people that is hard to resist and literally, all-consuming. I've consumed your goodness in thick maize porridge steaming with wholesome goodness on the breakfast table, in lovingly made sandwiches brought out of lunchboxes during school breaks, in the taste of my mother's birthday rice dishes served with soothing curries. I have consumed more than just your nutritional benefits for I have been fortunate to have the flavours of love and laughter infused into many of my experiences with you.
But I have also had painful, lonely moments with you. Do you remember the days when I would steal you in bites and binges so no one would know that I used you as an emotional crutch? Do you remember how as a teenager, I tried by all means to eliminate you from my vocabulary - and body - as though you were a profanity?
Plates of sadza.
My whole being yearned for you and yet, I ignored its cries because the diet books and magazines promised instant weight loss if only I would keep away from you. They promised that I would be slim and trim and beautiful, like every young woman dreams to be. And I foolishly believed them.
But the truth is simple and after a time, it is impossible to hide from. I need you in order to live. And I need you daily. You inspire growth within me, energy for my sustenance, reactions of renewal like Spring unfolding within my own bloodstream. Without you, I become unsteady and irritable, even collapsing to the ground because my system needs you so.
I need you.
I don't need you in the distorted manner that I have known you before, not as a coping mechanism during times of stress or depression; not as an edible confidant whose love I transform into hate when the needle on the scale pushes upwards; one, then two, then three, then four, then five kilogrammes. Not as that source of misery and guilt when my cellulite and stretch marks make me feel ugly.
I need you in the way that I need air or the afternoon sunshine washing over my face and seeping through my skin. Too much sun is bad for you, I know - just like too much of you isn't good for me. But I can choose to control our relationship; to take only as much as I need from you each day and harness your goodness to live life more abundantly. I don't want you to make me feel sluggish or unsightly anymore. I want you to invigorate me, to help me be my radiant self.
And that's why I am writing to you today - to ask that we start over and heal our broken relationship.
There will always be ups and downs along the way because our relationship can sadly never return to full innocence; years of dieting have instilled a certain apprehension within me about you and other foods which I am not sure I will ever be able to break.
We cannot go back to the beginning. But we can start a new page; a page where I don’t need to use you for comfort or validation, a page where I don’t derive power or self esteem by avoiding you; a chapter where I can enjoy your flavours and experiences without the mental calorie calculations and feelings of guilt and remorse at my bulging belly or floppy arms.
So carbs, here’s to the next phase of our relationship. And just to show that I really mean that, I’ll have a guiltless slice of cake to celebrate!
With all my love and admiration,