All of my life, I have struggled to accept my personal appearance. I have never thought that I was skinny enough, or my skin was clear enough, or that my stomach was flat enough etc.
How many times have you looked at pictures of yourself from 10+ years ago and think, “WHY DID I THINK I WASN’T (insert positive adjective here) THEN?! Why did I waste so much of my time and energy picking apart my body??” It seems that only upon reflection MANY years later, that I can see what others had perhaps seen back then.
And therein lies the problem. I am still judging and comparing my body to other women- my 10 years younger self included.
I have always looked at my body from the outside in… appearance first, and health concerns second. This way of thinking had to change when I got sober. I knew that I had to pay attention to what my body was telling me, or I was going to die. Thankfully, (after ignoring that niggle in my chest for far too long) I listened to my inner voice and started a journey towards sobriety. As I type this though… I’m realizing that even then- I may have been paying more attention to what my mind was telling me, instead of truly taking cues from my physical body. Being an alcoholic, I had lots of practice regarding detachment- getting so skilled at it, that in the end I didn’t even realize I was doing it. I lived in a dark world inside my head, and my job each day was to drown out and numb that darkness as quickly and for as long as possible.
Once I had some sobriety under my belt, I understood that I had completely neglected myself, so I started down the long path of reintroducing myself to my physical body. Years passed, and I became an open channel. I felt called to be a conduit to heal others, and worked to receive my Reiki Masters Certification. I was regularly assessing, healing, and focusing on other people’s physical forms, while STILL completely ignoring mine. Was I sober? YES. Was I able to ease people’s emotional/physical pain? YES. Was I using my own hands to do this? YES! But STILL, I ignored my own vessel…. Until.
Until my husband and I decided we were ready to add to our family. In order to have Flynn, I had to go thru fertility procedures and blood tests etc. in rapid fire succession. Very quickly, I was forced to pay attention to my body, and had to make the health of it my top priority.
When I got pregnant, something that I can literally only describe as magical happened. I LOVED how I looked pregnant. I can remember staring at myself in the mirror with a huge bump thinking, THIS is what your body was made for. THIS is your true form. I truly felt divinely held while pregnant, and will always cherish that feeling.
As with all life lessons- this one includes a good dose of irony. Here I was, REALLY loving my body on the outside, but in horrendous pain and discomfort on the inside. Because of Hypertension and Preeclampsia, my pregnancy was definitely not the smooth sail that I expected it to be.
But looking back at that time now, I am so grateful to my body for being strong enough to hold me up and safely carry Flynn for nine months. I am proud of what I was able to endure for a week in the hospital before Flynn came into the world.
And then our new life took over, and everything was about Flynn, as it should have been. I experienced the two weekish postpartum glow, lost most of my pregnancy weight, and jumped back into my busy life.
And then when Flynn was about 5 months old, every woman’s good friend GRAVITY came to call. Everything, and I mean everything… dropped. I felt so alienated and lost in my body. And so… I ignored it. I focused all of my energy on Flynn, my husband, and even on my face and hair. I shut out everything from the neck down.
And so I sit here… contemplating all of this, and trying to release the pressure I have put on myself to “fix” it.
I am writing this post to hold space for myself, and for any other mother, (or otherwise for that matter) who feels disconnected from herself. I am sharing this as a permanent reminder of the hardships I have put my body through, and more importantly, the gifts it has given me.
While speaking with a very wise woman, I told her that I felt like I completely lost my body. She took in my pain and said…. “No you didn’t. You can never lose your body. It is sitting right there with you now. It is supporting you right now. All you have to do is be open to receiving it.”
I am FAR from being physically comfortable in my postpartum body, but I have started to have gratitude for the work it has done for 33 years. I will learn how to lovingly make healthy changes so that hopefully soon, I will like what I see in mirror. In the meantime, I will thank my body each night for carrying me through the day…just as it is.
4 thoughts on “On Embodiment”
I love that you have such a healthy attitude toward your body now. Our society puts so much pressure on women and I hear from many postpartum moms who struggle with this. I would love to share your blog with them if you don’t mind.
Thank you so much, Judy! And of course- share away! It means a lot to me that you think it would be a useful tool for other women. That’s the best thing I could ever hope for in my writing. Xo
Thank you for sending this. I read it with interest in an open heart. I totally relate to what you’re saying. Nothing can heal in a body with a death wish. As a woman who has had an eating disorder since I was a teenager, I struggle with self acceptance of my body on a daily basis. This journey became more acute after I lost my breast. How does one love a body without a breast? I have learned and I do!
I am currently challenged in a 15-week “class” I’m taking in OA that there is a huge difference between self-care and grooming. Grooming is important I.E., washing my hair and doing my nails (perhaps). But self-care is turning off all my electronic devices, getting into a hot bath by candlelight for half an hour and meditating. It’s taken me years to understand the difference. Keep writing my love the words you write need to be read spoken and shared. Much love.
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Thank you so much for your words. Holding them in my heart and sending love back.