What's the closest relationship we have in this life? The one that makes us vulnerable, scared, surprised, aggravated, disappointed, ecstatic, or sad?

Yes, we have such a close relationship with our parents. Definitely our siblings. Also, our kids. And certainly, our spouses/partners.

What happens when we feel the most awful emotion of betrayal? The closer the relationship, the worse it is. Our vulnerability has been breached. Our love has been tested. We are innocent, we tell you, innocent!

Indeed, sometimes we are, and don't deserve betrayal. Yet sometimes our actions have instigated it and deep down we realize that this is true.

But most of the relationships above are limited. We will undoubtedly live part of our lives without one or the other. There is one relationship, though, that we are stuck with. Permanently, at least as long as this fleeting life can be called permanent - kind of an oxymoron, I know. At any rate, I think in your 40s and 50s you have to come to terms with this relationship, step back, observe, and - yes - eventually feel betrayed. The relationship I am talking about is the one between us and our bodies.

Most of us are ambling along in life just great, feeling wonderful, young, carefree - until one day we start realizing that we are on the downhill slope. We are slowly deteriorating. It certainly does not happen overnight. But it happens. And I, for one, don't like it.

Hey, Body, I thought we had a fairly good relationship! We've been through a lot, but come through OK, haven't we? In one piece? Not the worse for wear? We're in this together, Body. We're all we've got, and our goal is to live long and healthy, right? So what's this about cropping up with a thyroid nodule, hmmm? What's this about a bone scan that shows that my spine is weakening year by year? What's this about fat and wrinkles and muscle cramps and fatigue and gravitational droop and poor eyesight and decreased hearing and gray hair? What's that all about?

Betrayal! I shouted. How could you do this to me, after all I've done for you?

Oh yes, I was furious. I had every right to be! Then I stepped back and thought a minute and tried to observe my body's point of view. (I guess I had an "out-of-body experience.") What have I done for my body to turn on me? OK, I realize some of this is just the natural cycle of aging. As in any relationship, both sides grow and change and these things happen. But I am not innocent. Oh, no, after the things I have done (and not done), I can't weep innocently. I know what I have contributed to the breakdown of this relationship. I knew exactly what had been going wrong all those years. The ice cream and Cokes. The on-and-off exercise. The job of sitting all day. The face creams I bought but rarely used. The sunscreen I forgot to put on. The sleep I missed. The stress I did not alleviate.

Maybe it is really I who have betrayed my body. And now it's payback time.

It's a shame that the closest relationship of all has to ensure such betrayal - on both sides. My part in the betrayal especially hurts because, as most of us, I have always been blessed with no diseases and good health. And I have squandered many years of it, taking it for granted.

May we all give ourselves the perfect gift this Christmas season. Peace with our body, and a commitment to be "faithful" to it for as long as we are "together."

Sorry about that, Body. You deserve better.