Losing It

My mad, crazy journey to health and beyond

Girl Power

My friends and I have a tradition. Every Women’s Day, we go out for lunch and get completely and utterly hammered. We start our “lunch” at around 1pm (inverted commas because very little eating usually gets done) and eventually stumble out of the restaurant at about 11pm. Sometimes later, depending on the severity of the week. I love my friends, and I love drinking, which is why I’ve always loved Women’s Day. Good food, good wine, good conversation, and good god, what an awesome time!

Obviously some memorable moments have come out of these annual drinkathons. There was the year my friend went to the loo and her bag got stolen off the back of her chair. There was the year the same friend and I got so rat-assed, the evil waiter charged each of us R700 individually, instead of collectively, and we didn’t notice (that fucker made out like a bandit). And there was the year I said to my friends, “I hear there’s some 10km Women’s Day race in Stellenbosch or something – maybe next year we should do that.” And then we all gave ourselves appendicitis by laughing so fucking hard, and went back to drowning ourselves in tequila and bad decisions.

This year marked the 10th anniversary of our annual Women’s Day Piss-Up, and after a decade of laughing, eating and drinking together, you would have thought this celebration would have been the one to END THEM ALL. I’m talking body shots and strippers and Cuervo, oh my. If you’d looked at us, you wouldn’t have seen anything different. You would have seen love and laughter and clinking glasses and friendship. But if you’d looked a little closer, you would have seen three out of the five glasses filled with sparkling water, and the other two only half-filled with a single glass of wine. Because times change, and so have we.

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I spend a lot of time on here talking about how much I value the support of my friends, but I don’t talk about them much beyond that, mostly because I try to disassociate them from my word drivel as much as possible. I’ve made a lot of new friends in the past year or two, thanks to my association with SleekGeek and my new love of trail running, and I appreciate and value them all, but it’s the friends I’ve had for the past five, ten, fifteen years that I want to recognise today. The friends who don’t know me only as Nicola who fits into size 30 Levi’s and gives talks about weight loss success. Rather, the friends who knew me when I drank too much, ate too much, didn’t shower for weeks on end, wore filthy, ripped clothes to work, was hungover four days out of seven, and spent most of my time hating myself and hating my life.

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I’ve lived away from my family since I was 12 years old and in boarding school, and as a result, my friendships have become massively, intrinsically, critically important to me. My friends are more than people I simply spend time with – they are my urban family, the people I turn to in good times and bad, the people I ask for help, and the people I depend on to tell me when I’m going off the rails and harming myself. I’ve done plenty of fucking stupid things in my 38 years of existence, but one thing I’ve done right is surround myself with the best family members a girl could ask for. Together we’ve seen each other through everything – losing partners, losing jobs, losing family members, losing hope, and in the process we’ve gained something indescribably valuable – a connectedness that surpasses petty jealousies and spitefulness and nastiness, and is instead the strength of sisterhood at its finest.

We might not be on the same paths, but we’re constantly growing together, learning together, and striving to transform into the best versions of ourselves we can be – which is why instead of knocking back the GDP of Mexico this year at Women’s Day, we were concentrating on filling up with what was really important – each other.

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I used to think all women valued each other and recognised their collective strength and importance, but it turns out I was wrong. Instead, it seems there are some women out there who simply don’t get it. Women who tell me I’m showing off for celebrating my progress. Women who call me a bitch for losing weight. Women who smile in front of me and say nasty, vile things about me and my journey behind my back. And women who tell me that my choices (to be celibate, to not have children) somehow make me less than a woman, with a life unfulfilled.

Yeah just look how unhappy I am.

Yeah just look how unhappy I am.

I made the mistake last week of letting these stings and barbs bother me for a few days. I even almost went as far as deleting both my blog and my Losing It Facebook page, because I thought, what is the fucking point? I moped around a bit because, human, but then I realised something, and I’ve slept easy since then. I realised that I don’t need to feel sorry for myself, but sorry for these women instead. I’m sorry that there are women out there who let themselves feel defeated by the successes of others. I’m sorry that there are women who choose to put others down in order to lift themselves up. I’m sorry that there are women who feel more comfortable exposing their naked insecurities than working through them. And mostly I’m sorry that there are women out there who are such a blatant disgrace to their gender and feminism as a whole. Bless sweethearts. Womanhood. You’re doing it wrong.

Some people who aren’t doing it wrong though are my friends. My strong, powerful, beautiful, supportive friends. We may not get quite as shitfaced together anymore, but we’re still here for each other on Women’s Day and every day in between. And while the health journey is hard, and the road is long, walking it with you makes every step easier and more worthwhile. So a massive heartfelt thank you and bags of love to Sue, Wendy, Liezl, Pat, Lynn, Tiziana, Chantel, and of course, Caren. I went and looked up “woman” in the dictionary, and your names were all there. My dictionary is a weirdly specific one. Girl power. You’re doing it very, very, very right.

Literally the only fucking photo I have of you Chantel. What the F man?

Literally the only fucking photo I have of you Chantel. What the F man?

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