Monday, December 29, 2014

The Way I Look At Myself in the Mirror

The truth is the mirror has always been a really hard place.  And I NEVER, EVER, NEVER thought it would get any easier.  Yesterday, I read a sentiment of a female looking at an old picture of herself and she wondered how had she thought she was heavy at the time of the picture.

I've done the same thing.  I thought I was heavy in high school, and college, and in my thirties, etc.  And in the past, I have looked at those pictures and thought, wow, if I could only be at that weight now.

I could fly with that weight.

So evidently, in my teens, the body image distortion was already in place and thriving.  Negative thoughts about myself were abundantly flowing.

I have been wanting to really write about body image for 2-3 years now, but something has been holding me back.   I feel like I shouldn't have a voice because my BMI is higher than I would want.  Yet, I have been in groups of thin and average sized women recently and was startled to hear complaints that they are fat, and worried about how their clothes look, and they shouldn't be eating this food, etc.

Body image distortion (and issues with food) are abundant and pervasive.

And I think, "Well, I'm not the only one."  And then my critical self thinks, "Yes, but you do have some weight to lose so you have no right to an opinion." In years past, I felt it was necessary to announce to anyone that would listen, that I knew I needed to lose weight and how I was working on that.  It makes me shudder to think that I thought so little of my self.  The self that an abundantly loving divine presence made.

And Love is the answer after all.

After many diligent years and intentional work of learning to love myself unconditionally, the result has been a shift in my core belief and the thoughts in my head.  

Weight does not equal self worth.  I am not my weight.

Ohhh, I've hit a nerve.  Tears sprang to my eyes when I wrote that.  Coming to this truth has been so hard.  My therapist says body image is one of the issues that takes the longest to heal.    It's a booger.  (smile)  If you look at any media, there it is.  We as women, at every turn, are told we need to lose weight, look younger, defy aging, have larger breasts, etc.  That is one of the reasons I avoid commercials, among other things.

One way that I know that I'm healing my body image is by putting on a form fitting long gown and going out to a formal occasion.  This was a huge step.  I have done it a few times in the last few years and it was uncomfortable each time, I hesitated to go.   Yet at a point during the evening, I think, wow,  I'm having such a great time how can that be?   Even though there's more of me than I would like.  Am I allowed to have fun even though my dress size is double digits?  Am I allowed to have fun even though the local boutiques don't even carry something to fit me? 


(Pardon my French, the point just didn't seem the same without the swear word - Thanks Mr. Big!) 

Another way I know I'm healing is my yoga practice.  I have been choosing to go to yoga because my body wants to move.  (or walking, or bike riding, or turning on the music and dancing!)  I have to be very careful about making myself do any particular activity because "I'm supposed to."  As I have worked to diminish the crappy "supposed to" thoughts in my head, I have learned my body tells me pretty much every day that it wants to move.  And I'm hearing it and responding on most days.  And it feels delightful, empowering, joyful and strengthening.  So different than when I did it because I was "supposed to."  It's coming from a much healthier vantage and one that I look forward to instead of dreading.  (And my body will also tell me what food it needs for fuel as I have shed the diet mentality and supposed to's in that area as well.)

While practicing yoga in different studios, there tend to be large mirrors.  Form fitting clothing works best for yoga.  I unconsciously or consciously refrained from going many times because of the fear of the mirror, or what others would think, etc.   Here's the flummoxing part: in practice at a mirrored studio, in my head with my eyes closed, I feel lean and strong.  And then I open my eyes and the mirror does not match what's in my head.  This startled and shocked me the first few times it happened and it still does even now but to a lesser degree.

As my body has wanted to move and I listen, I have been practicing more regularly and moved up to the harder class.  Through this repeated exposure, I've been making friends with my appearance in the mirror.  Slowly, ever so slowly, over time, the thoughts that I'm not enough have been fading and ones that I am enough as I am have been forthcoming. And even with aches and pains here and there in my body, over time, the predominant feeling that has been emerging is one of strength.  The practice of yoga is not only strengthening my body, but my mind and my spirit.  It feels so freaking good to move through the positions, and it feels like a solid flow, as well as shaky, sweaty, catching, breathing hard and muscles aching.   I try poses even for just a few seconds that my head tells me I can't.  I hold that harder position and my body and mind grow.  The I can't begins to fall away.

I am flying in this body.


No comments:

Post a Comment