Earlier this morning, I watched this video on Upworthy about a woman who grew to love herself.
This got me reflecting on my own history with the way I view my body. I feel it’s important to know where we come from. Too often, we do our best to evolve without looking back. But the real evolution comes when we can look back, honor, and love ourselves through that history. No matter how difficult it may have been, we’re still here today.
Here is some of my history. I hope it helps you find peace with yours.
age 2: i knew that even though my mom said no, my dad would probably say yes.
age 3: i experienced sexual violence at the hands of one of the sons of a close family friend. i couldn’t tell anyone, because i was afraid of getting in trouble for interrupting the grown-ups. i thought for sure someone would notice something was wrong. i was mistaken.
age 6: i still felt adorable, and was pretty sure i was magical enough to harness the power of the wind. (see: http://yourhumanbeing.com/2009/09/29/wind-magic/)
age 7: my hair got cut short and was occasionally confused as a boy. i no longer felt adorable, or magical.
age 8: i experienced intense sexual dysfunction while staying at a friend’s house. again, there was no one i could tell.
age 12: i would go to my friend’s house before school and load up on make-up, since i wasn’t allowed to wear it at home. some cool older girls i knew gave me a bunch of clothes they no longer wore. i finally felt cool.
age 13: i sat in a room with a dozen other kids, where we awkwardly tried sharing the stories of how alcoholism has affected our families. instead, we pretty much just hung out, had a snack, and pushed each other around in big office chairs.
age 15: i spent a year trying to avoid being seen by my profile due to an overbite and a strongly featured nose.
age 16: Oprah changed my life. i came home from school one day to hear her talking about verbal and emotional abuse. i finally had words to describe my experience. that same day, i stood up for myself and said “it stops today”.
age 18: i felt more relaxed, confident, and carefree in my body. i wore what i wanted to, without trying to measure to a standard set by my less cool classmates.
age 20: i was determined to marry my boyfriend, because that’s what you do when you have sex with someone you love.
age 23: confused, and trying to repress the feeling of attraction i felt toward women. it wasn’t “normal”.
age 25: even though i was married, i felt so alone, with the exception of the beautiful child i just had. she was my light, the one true source of beauty in my life. she gave me purpose.
age 27: i felt shame about my breasts and scoffed at the irony that because i chose to nurse my child, i was left with deflated balloons. i wrote about being able to hide a chocolate bar in the extra skin on my stomach.
age 28: began retraining the muscles in my face to hold my jaw in a more aligned position, believing it would eventually eliminate my overbite.
age 30: my all was wrapped in motherhood. i realized after watching other moms that it wasn’t a healthy way of being. i began reigniting my passion of reading and writing, knowing i’d have to have something to do after they were grown.
age 33: newly single, i had sexual experiences that i had never experienced before, and finally admitted to myself that i was bi-curious. i was frightened by the power of my hormones and the desire others had for me, and had no idea how to not be in a relationship, which made me rush in too fast while dating.
age 35: i found my self-worth in my sexuality.
age 37: working out regularly at the gym, i felt like i was in the best physical shape of my life. i accepted being a bit underweight, believing that was my natural body type since i was eating healthy and exercising. i didn’t want to admit that i wasn’t eating enough.
age 39: after a series of failed relationships, i found my self-worth in my ability to give to others. i was finally with someone who verbally appreciated my small breasts, which caused me to want to love them more too.
age 40: no longer exercising, but finally starting to eat enough, i gained a few pounds. still naturally skinny, i began to feel a bit more curvy. the previous relationship went away, but my relationship with my breasts deepened. i decided to volunteer for a photo shoot that would require me to be nude in the middle of the woods on the coldest day of december. i was incredibly afraid, but started to feel empowered. i felt sensual, attractive, alive, and free.
age 41: worrying less about how i look and more about how i feel, i still felt the need to inform my students i had resting bitch face, and told them i was again working on retraining the muscles in my face to form a permanent Mona Lisa smile. i didn’t want them to misinterpret my mood or way of being. (see infomercial here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3v98CPXNiSk )
today: a mother of 3 and nearly 42, i am told i’m beautiful regularly by people who love me. most importantly, i feel beautiful, radiant, and magical once again. i accept who i am, and where i’ve been. during a long walk on the beach, a conversation between the ocean and my body caused me to realize all i have put myself through during the years. all the insecurities, which i can now call silly, that were so deeply ingrained in my being. i cried for myself, my body, my spirit. and through those salty tears, i found a greater respect for my physical being. i love my body and all it’s been through. i let the pain of my past way of being, and perceiving myself, wash away with each wave, taking me to a different year, a different level. i am determined to love myself, no matter how my body decides to present itself during the coming years.
Beauty is not found in the body. It is found in the embodiment of our own essential and divine human being.
Set the intention to make peace with yourself. You will find it.
If you need some help, let me know.