Facing The Truth
I have not always lived a joyful life. I could look at myself as a victim in the story of my life. I could also look at myself as comic relief in the story of my life. I am not a victim nor am I the butt of the joke. I prefer to look at myself as the hero of my life! That is the version of my life story that I want to be told.
I am proud of the fact that I have healed in most of my broken places. I have noticed lately that there is still some work to be done. Here is the truth that I have been unwilling to face. I notice that I have a body image issue. While posting photos that include my body or looking in a full-length mirror, the story in my head goes something like this.
“I am fat. I am not sexy.”
When I have these thoughts, I am not kind to myself. I tend to hide my body even in the privacy of my own home in front of my impressionable daughter. Lucy just wants to see my belly button. But if my partner is around, I will not let her see it. She just wants to be playful. Since I prefer to be the hero of my life, this stops now.
Age 19: I gain my “freshman 15”. I am now 5’3” and 105 lbs. I work 2 full time jobs to put myself through college full time. Who has the time to eat properly and get exercise? I haven’t seen my dad in a while, so we plan to meet in Los Angeles. He sees me as I enter the gate. These 5 words crush me.
“Who blew up the kid?” My dad joked.
Age 35: My bridesmaid dress arrives 2 sizes too small. With no time to re-order, I try the South Beach diet to quickly lose significant weight. I’ve never had to diet before. I ease into the size 6 dress. I am relieved.
Age 36: My husband expresses his disappointment in my weight after two indulgent honeymoons and two serious running injuries that led to my running sneaker retirement. I am a size 8.
Age 38: My husband watches everything that goes into my mouth. I begin to hide food. He sits next to me in spin class and cranks up the resistance on my bike when he thinks I can work harder. Cycling goes from joyful to miserable with these 3 words.
“Pedal faster Jenn!” He yells while on a 40 mile bike ride. I hide my anger.
Age 41: I am happily divorced. I am in love. I am happily pregnant. Yet, my body image issue exacerbates during pregnancy. I gain 60 lbs. I lose 40 lbs. I hear more words that crush me.
Now: What I know for sure is that if you can’t face the truth, you can’t make a change.
“Oh, dearest, you can’t hurt me – only I can do that.”
This quote resonates with me. The words about my body that I have been hearing throughout my life are just that. Words.
“Words are just breath.” My dad would say this often if I was picked on or if he noticed his own words were hurtful.
It is not the words that hurt. It is what we make them mean that does the most damage. I made my definition of beauty, someone else’s definition of beauty. Anyone has the right to express their opinion about my body. I can’t stop them. But what is under my control is how I receive those words. Do I stand in my own power and remember how I got here?
Even if I don’t lose a single pound, my goal is to feel good about the body I have now. I will remember that this body that I have right now allows me to experience all of the joy I have in my life in this moment. This body I have right now gave birth to a beautiful, energetic girl who is the light of my life. This body endured pre-term labor not once but twice, gestational diabetes and eclampsia so that I may have and appreciate that light given to me by G-d/The Universe/The Divine. I will live by my definition of beauty, not by someone else’s definition of beauty.
Now it’s time for me to take what I have learned about fear and living joyfully and apply it to where I need it the most. Weight loss.
I have already made some brave actions. I told my partner how much I weigh and that made me feel lighter. Pun intended. I have posted photos of my body on social media. I am writing this and posting a photo of myself in a bathing suit in my public journal. I do exercise that feels joyful, in fact I spin because it feels joyful. I practice mindful yoga because it feels joyful. I don’t shame myself if I eat a pleasure food. I eat food that fuels my body.
Life is a series of choices between joy and suffering. I choose joy. I plan to make my body image reinvention a joyful experience. Just watch me as I transform.