Something has shifted. Not the depression, that is still there, though in a more manageable form these days. But something inside of me…The AT pointed it out yesterday. He had been following the blog while he was gone and he noticed a theme developing…Hope. Yup. HOPE. The dress, the “I am a Fucking Warrior,” the affirmations…
I have said before that I am not good at labeling feelings. And I think it took the perspective from someone on the outside to point it out to me…But I think he is right. I think there is a tiny ember of hope trying not to go out. I just need some little bits of tinder to encourage it. We’ll see how I do.
So, not related to hope but perhaps related to the shifting, I want to tell you about something I did on Monday; I looked in a mirror at my body. It sounds simple, but this is one of the bravest things I have done in years. Oh…I forgot the important part. I was naked. Yup. I stood in front of a mirror and I looked at my naked body, specifically my torso. And I felt no judgement. Not one iota. I just kind of looked at what my body looks like right now. And I touched it too, kind of poked and smoothed my hands over myself, just to feel what it feels like. Again, no judgement, just sort of an open curiosity…Sort of like, “Hi Body, we haven’t really connected in a long time and I wanted to check in.”
When I was at Renfrew, we had a mirror exercise (NOT naked!) and I totally had emotional meltdowns both times we did it. Like, Total. Breakdown. And that is why I say something has shifted, because Monday, I did not have a breakdown, nor did I loathe my body. I just looked and here’s what I saw: White skin. Yup, I am pretty fair and lemme tell ya, the skin on my torso, which never sees sun, is very white. And I saw silvery stretch marks. Some are from being fat, some are from being pregnant. When I was pregnant, my stretch marks got stretch marks. I am not kidding. It was kind of crazy! But now, they are just lines that are pale and a bit shiny. I looked at the shape of my stomach and realized that I am less fat than I think I am. And that some of my size right now, that I assumed was fat, is actually skin. Because I have lost a lot of weight, I have a lot of loose skin. And I sort of lifted the skin and moved it around and estimated how many inches of it there is….Again, not at all judging, just sort of observing. I looked at my breasts too…And I realized that with the loss of fat, my body has sort of deflated. I knew that my breasts were smaller because they are not filling up the cups on my bras anymore. But I hadn’t actually looked at them and seen how they look different. I don’t know how long I looked at my body, maybe 5 minutes? But it was 5 minutes of no judgement. 5 minutes of seeing my body. And that it isn’t perfect. And that’s okay.
You know what I just realized? I am not sure my body is disgusting. I know that some folks would say it is….But I am not so sure anymore (or at least today). What if the disgust is actually something I project on myself from the inside? What if the actual physical aspect of my body is not disgusting but I feel disgusting so I tell myself that my body is? What if I can separate that disgusting feeling from my body? I mean, I shouldn’t have it in my head either…But baby steps. What if I can cut some slack about my body and stop being so critical? Okay…these are some pretty serious What Ifs and I can tell you already, I am going to be disgusted with my body again. And probably soon. But maybe, like my ember of hope, there is an ember of body acceptance here. And if I am gentle and careful, I can nurture the non-judgmental observation of my body into some actual body acceptance and then maybe even into some positive body image.
Maybe there is actually a light at the end of this tunnel.
(But I have to admit, I feel sort of worried, this is one of those “one step forward” moments. And now I have to wait for the crash and then the “two steps back.” I hate the “two steps back” part.)