Saturday, October 10, 2015

I Am Not My Body - Making it Personal

I have written about this subject before but then elected to delete the blog post because I was a coward and it made me uncomfortable to reveal things that felt so personal and still very much something I struggled with in my own life. I have written poems about physical appearance too which you can find here on my blog.

This blog post has been developing in my head for a while and I think I am finally ready to get real with all of you and share my thoughts, my experiences and my feelings about it all.

I love my mom. I was always very attached to her when I was a child. My mom was unfortunate enough to be in an abusive marriage. The barrage of verbal abuse was daily. My mom gained weight and my father used to say the most horrible things to her. He would make lustful comments about other women in front of her and us regularly. How could this not chip away at her self esteem over time. How could this not be extremely toxic and damaging? My mom gained weight. At first just a little weight and later quite a lot. It seemed like she was always on some diet and at one point she lost quite a lot of weight but looked very sickly. And then she gained all of the weight back and then some.

I can't remember the first time my father told me what a fat ass I had and how I was going to end up looking just like my mother, but it was more than once. And it became a personal fear. I think I was about 13 or 14 when he said it to me the first time. I can remember being in Kentucky while visiting my cousin and seeing how fat my mom had gotten actually disgusted me. I vowed I would kill myself if I ever got as fat as my mom.

I went through a period of being bulimic and then switched to not eating. I would get a high from not eating and I would go as long as I could and eat as little as I could. The praise I got for losing weight was ever present. "Oh you look amazing!" "You look so much better." So all this positive reinforcement made me keep it up. I think I pretty much lived on coffee and cigarettes to get me through a day. Who cares that I would faint every now and then. Everything is fine as long as you are thin and pretty, right? I was extremely disdainful of people who were overweight because they represented my biggest fear.

When I became a full-time live-in nanny, suddenly I was having to sit with people every night and was being watched by the entire family. I was acutely aware that I needed to be an example to the kids and dutifully ate my dinner. Over time I naturally gained weight. It bothered me but I tried not to let it get to me that much. When I go back and read old journals, I can see what a focus it was in my mind. It didn't help that I was depressed and lonely living in Michigan. I never found my tribe there and never felt I had a place and people that I fit with.

Eventually I did get as fat as my mom. I haven't killed myself yet over it. lol I married, had a baby, and went through a lot of internal changes. I went through a period of having lost a lot of weight about 4 years ago and then I gained it all back when I went back to a normal diet. The diet and excessive exercise I was on was causing me to lose my hair which made me equally unhappy.

I have lived both sides of the coin. I have been both head turning beautiful and the person that gets completely overlooked and assumptions made about. Here is what I have learned.

I wasn't happy when I was thin and beautiful. I was miserable, in fact. Sure there were tons of people who would stop me and want to know me. People gave me things for free be it drinks, no cover charge at the bars I went to or even fruit at a stand where the guy thought I was hot. People fall all over themselves for outward beauty. People would want to know me but here is the catch. They would want to know me as far as having me around but they want to project onto you their ideal no matter how many times you try to tell them who you are inside. The majority of the people I knew back then never could see ME...the me inside.

I am overweight now and I know what kind of assumptions people make about me as I have likely made them about others before during my fat phobia years. I know people assume I am lazy and sit around over eating and eating crappy food. That couldn't be further from the truth.

When people want to attack you, the first thing they often go for and try to use to attack you is your personal appearance. It used to bother me but it no longer has a negative charge for me.

I could lose weight when I deal with my internal emotional baggage but a part of me doesn't want to. About 4 years ago when I lost a lot of weight, people were suddenly treating me different and were more responsive to me. The way I see it is my weight weeds out those who are rather shallow and superficial. It saves me the trouble of wasting my time to find this out later. If you don't want to know me and spend time with me when I am 220 pounds then I don't want you in my life when I am 120 pounds. I am still the same person inside at any weight or age.

It has been a very long and arduous journey to love and acceptance of myself as I am in this now moment. I am not going to say, "Oh I will love myself when I have lost _____ pounds." because that would make me no better than the shallow superficial people who only make time for those who are pleasing to their eye. I have to love and value ALL of me in this now moment exactly as I am.

There are many spiritual reasons why we hold onto to extra weight. You know those people who are heavy even though they eat well and are active? Usually there is an emotional and spiritual reason for the extra weight. I have had various dreams that highlight what some of my reasons are as a way to help me work through it and release what I need to release. Here is one of those dreams:

September 3, 2014 The dream jumps again and I was somewhere...another shop. My male friend runs the shop and he has some notes out on the counter about the applicants he has interviewed and some of his notes included "pretty" "nice figure". I get really upset and ask if that is really something he is looking for in an applicant. I asked him how these things are a determining factor in how well someone can do the job or how well qualified they are. I'm like "look at me! I am fat!" And he says something to the effect of, "well you're different." I am very upset. I say "No, I am not different! Do you know why people are heavy and why they carry extra weight?" I start to sob, "Because we just feel so much and we carry all of that with us. We feel so much pain and we put the weight on to protect us and cushion us." And now I am seeing the shop keeper but he has morphed into an overweight woman. Maybe that was who was living inside him from a past life and maybe why he was obsessed with attractive thin women...because he wanted to be that in a previous life.

I am going to be 47 this month. I will not allow our twisted societal ideas of beauty dictate to me what is beautiful. I will honor and cherish every line on my face. I will honor and cherish my body as it is in every now moment. I will not abuse it with starvation or excessive exercise as I have in the past. I will love and value me exactly as I am right now. We live in a society that worships youth and beauty and the moment that the youthfulness starts to fade, we throw them away. This is especially true of women, but I am sure it happens with men too...it is just we are more inclined to say "oh age looks good on him" and with women we just criticize and say, "Wow, she is getting old".

I suggest we change ourselves and our views and how we measure beauty. I suggest that we not judge a book by it's cover and actually get to know who someone is no matter if they are pretty or plain or old. Physical beauty can disappear in an instant. It could be a fire, a car accident, domestic abuse, violent acts like acid attacks. Everyone will get old eventually. What I suggest right here and right now is that we celebrate aging. I suggest we honor physical changes and be understanding and compassionate towards one another. I am suggesting you take the time to really get to know someone and see the magnificence and beauty that lives on the inside. Physical beauty is fleeting but inner beauty lasts forever.

In the end we are not really physical beings. We are spirit having a physical experience. All the beauty that is you has no real shape or form. The beauty that is you...that is soul...lives inside and is begging to be seen and acknowledged.

I am not my body....but I will love my body.

I know my worth and value and neither is dependent on someone else's opinions of me.

See with your hearts and not your eyes.