image from holisticmama.co.uk

I have made the decision to love my body. I’ve spent many years hating my body. It started when I was a young girl, eight or nine years old. My body was round and kids teased me. My mom tried to minimize my pudginess but the kids thought I was a “teakettle” and the teasing started me on my path to body shame. I started “developing” shortly after and got my first period at nine-and-a-half. That added to my dislike of my body despite my mom’s kind attempts to soothe and reassure me. At twelve we discovered that I had thyroid disease and the doctor told my parents, in my presence, that “she’ll always have a weight problem”. That was one of the great set-ups of the century. I heard him and so it has been, at least in my mind.

I spent years hating my body, thinking I didn’t measure up, feeling less than others, and way too much in other ways. Of course, the fashion industry didn’t help. This body shame has followed me all my life. It’s funny when I see pictures of myself from various decades. I always notice my weight, and I always remember how I was feeling about it when the photo was taken. I usually look at myself and say, “Wow I was so much smaller then. And I thought I was too fat.” Regardless of what size I was wearing, I felt like I didn’t measure up and criticized every part of my body. Legs too heavy, boobs too small, butt way to big, and on. Aging added a bit more fuel to the fire as gravity showed its effect on certain parts. More shame. It’s been a battle to learn to love myself – all of myself. I’ve made progress along the way but I admit it’s been a journey of fits and starts.

During my recent health challenge, as my body did some unpleasant things and I was fearful that I was facing something life-threatening, I found myself falling in love with my body. I wondered if the shame was being mirrored back to me in the way my illness was manifesting. One day I looked at myself in the mirror and decided that I love my body and that from now on I would respect it and view it – all of it – as sacred. This is no small thing. It’s been a lifelong habit to dislike what I see in the mirror when clothes shopping, dread the beach (especially shopping for a swimsuit), and compare myself to other women. I finally learned that my body belongs to me and I have been taking all its gifts for granted. I have been blessed with so many beautiful “parts”, even the ones I really have hated. My legs take me where I want to go, my extra weight protects my bones, I have eyes to see and a heart that beats. My arms can hug, my mouth can speak words of love and comfort, I can smell food cooking and taste it when the cooking is done. I can think with my brain and create art with my hands. My ears can hear music and the words, “I’m home” and “I love you”. I can smell a rose and feel the breeze against my skin. My body is a treasure and I can only love it and be grateful that I have this vehicle to carry my spirit on this life journey.

So, I make the commitment to love it unconditionally. I make the commitment to care for it and do all in my power to keep it healthy and fit. I may falter from time to time, but I make the commitment to remember the time when I feared I might lose it. I will say “I love you” to my body every day. I have learned a great lesson, a bit late in coming but I have learned it finally. And I am so grateful.

Rather than a stretch this week I want to thank you for holding space for me during this time. My long odyssey should be over next week when I will have a gallstone removed. Please keep holding that space and help me envision my health returning to normal so that I can move on and back into the life I love living so much. I send you all blessings, love, and gratitude. ~ F

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