Content Note: negative self talk, triggering and restricting talk. There is also an f-bomb, for those that aren’t fond of cursing.
I started my day today with a hot shower in my cold bathroom. I noticed myself thinking about my weight, which I accidentally discovered recently at a doctor’s appointment after swearing off the scale for a few months. I didn’t react when I saw that number there, being higher than it had ever been. Instead, I noticed that it made me uncomfortable and tried to let it go. At least, that is what I told myself. In reality, I quickly shoved that awareness away and all of the complicated emotions that it triggered because I didn’t want to deal with it.
So, instead, it has been lingering in the peripheral margins of my mind for two weeks, coming up at random times – like my shower this morning. So, there I was in the shower, and I caught myself thinking about my weight. I responded to my self-critique with a surprising, yet welcome inspiration to consider each body part as I washed it and think of what I appreciate about it. ‘Shoulders and biceps, you are strong and I could see your muscles rippling in the mirror during yoga yesterday,’ I thought silently to myself.
My legs carry me everywhere I go, they can do all sorts of cool things like jumping, dancing, bicycling, walking, and even running. My arms and hands make things, keep my environment clean(ish), write and type, draw, hug,* and pet my critters. Then, I got to my belly. My belly, oh, my belly. The most sensitive, trigger-y spot on my entire body. Historically, I have physically recoiled from any attempts at belly touching. For the most part, my body is the same shape as it was 60 pounds ago, it’s just bigger. The primary exception is my belly. It has grown quite big and round; my shapeliness is completely lost in my profile these days. So, when I got to my belly, I thanked it for housing the digestion factory in there, all of those other essential-for-life organs and even a few non-essential ones. I appreciated my belly’s ability to house a new little human some day. How freaking cool is that? Bodies are so cool…
I’m glad I went through that little exercise this morning, as it prepared me for seeing the scale again today. It’s like I can’t get away from the damned thing lately. Today, it gave me a new high weight. It was a number I didn’t think I’d ever see. Half of me wanted to cry and immediately stop eating (as if that is even an option) and the other half was dismissive, ‘So? You’re healthier than you were this time last year and you are a hell of a lot more sane than you were 60 pounds ago! That number does not make you any less cool than you were in the shower this morning.’
My reality is that I’ve been working on this body-love mentality for a while and I don’t always love my body. Sometimes, I still hate it. But I have a higher level of awareness now that allows me to notice when I am hating my body and I consistently practice rewriting the script in my head that tells me that I am fat and that means ugly and that means worthless. I’ve had that thought pattern for over 20 years, and that shit just isn’t true.
And I know that.
The new script in my head tells me that I am a fucking wonder of biology. I have all of these body parts that do amazing things without me even thinking about it. I have bones that are covered in flesh that is comprised of muscle and fat interlaced with super complex circulatory and nervous systems. There are joints held together by tendons, cushioned by cartilage that allow me to move all this flesh around in countless ways. I have organs that do all the things to keep this awesome, fleshy structure of mine operating smoothly and sensory organs that help me to see, feel, hear, smell, and taste the world. I have a brain that thinks and solves problems and a mind that cares about and is interested in so many things. My body transports my brain/mind around this world to do the things I chose to do to make an impact in this world, whether that be activism, volunteering, educating or hugging folks. My body is awesome!
I recognize that there are people who do not have the able-bodied privilege I do. The phrase “all bodies are good bodies” appears regularly on the interwebs these days, and I agree. We are all so much more than our bodies. The coolest traits in us humans can’t be seen on our physical bodies. It’s what is in our hearts and on our minds. It’s in our dreams and our creations. My body is fucking awesome, and so is yours. Love it up until you are so full of love and appreciation for yourself that you have so much left over, you have to give it to other people.
*Don’t forget the hugs. Hugs are important, y’all. My favorite kind of hug is when someone asks if they can hug me, verbally or with a physical gesture, and waits for consent or reciprocation. Those well-intentioned embraces between caring friends can be magical.