After having children I (like so many moms), struggled with my body and a multilayer identity crisis. Some of you may know about my experience with undiagnosed postpartum anxiety…I’m not sure if being diagnosed or not makes a difference…for me it resulted in a series of breakdowns…(I mean break throughs) that thankfully led me to finding the real me. And, it IS glorious to feel less anger and resentment, to feel in control and purposeful, and yet I had yet to cross the last bridge to full wholeness.
Unbeknownst to me I was fighting in a war that had been ragging for many years. One that was fraught with thoughts of not-belonging and manifested in some pretty common disconnecting behaviour patterns…perfectionism, people-pleasing, the imposter syndrome, leaking boundaries and numbing (a few years back I did a 2 part video series on these behaviours you can check them out here…)
And winning that battle required getting back to ME. Over time and with considerable energy I made a series of shifts, that step by step have reconnected me to my Awesome Self…and yet there was something HUGE stopping me from being whole.
And by HUGE, I mean practically impassable, impenetrable, immovable…The last element of disconnection that I had yet to come to terms with.
I don’t remember loving my body…ever. I remember appreciating it for all the power it gave me. I remember using it to get what I wanted. I remember dressing it, judging it, changing it, hating it. I remember feeling disconnected from it and even when it created life…I don’t remember loving it.
Now, like all things, what I remember is based on what I believe…so I am sure there have been moments that I did…love my body. Yet my story, my truth, is that I don’t. I’m hopeful that as I rewrite my story about my relationship with my body and align fully with my Awesome Self, that my memory will rewrite itself. For now, I am gloriously enjoying the shift that took place recently and I hope that sharing it will help me (and you) explore all that this new model of the world offers me.
Prior to having children
I loathed every aspect of my cycle. It was excruciating, not only during my period but also during ovulation. The impact of my hormone fluctuations and anticipating the agony and horror that it would bring, created a world that destroyed me every 2 weeks. I struggled to complete tasks that were longer than a month, I lived fully under the impression that pain was a way of life and that nothing could be done to change that. I manifested more pain and feared most new endeavours…believing that my body would derail me. Because of my body, I knew couldn’t go to the gym, go on that trip, camp, swim, have sex when I wanted. I believed my body was flawed…inherently flawed, and I blamed my body for so much of my unhappiness.
My relationship with IT, fell into a deeper black pit of loathing. I regularly referred to my body as “my meat-suit”…I could not see it as a part of me. I didn’t recognize it, understand it or want it. I hated that my flesh sagged and had discoloured parts. It was not mine…it was not me…I begged it to stop. Begged it to stop ruining my life. And to distance myself from it, I punished it and ignored it.
I know now
My body was the last compartment to be decompartmentalized on my journey to wholeness. You see, I had, and continue, to do the work to bring all the parts of me together. My mission is to no longer have to change who I am to serve others. The dream being, that if everyone I know were to magically meet and start talking about me, they would ALL recognize the woman they know in each other’s stories. I wanted to feel whole and more than that, I wanted to be known as whole. And the work I’ve done up until now, has been challenging and rewarding in ways I could never have anticipated.
For years I’d seen my body as a lost cause…
As the last part of me that just wouldn’t get on board. And fuck I was angry at it. My anger came out in different ways…and the one word I think best describes my behaviour towards my body is abusive. Every opportunity I had to celebrate her…I would poison her, lash out at her, tell her she was wrong, ugly, stupid, a waste. She could never wield the power she once had.
I refused to buy her clothes…I don’t waste my money on garbage. I refused to heal her…I don’t waste my time on garbage. I refused to walk her, run her, move her…I don’t waste my energy on garbage. I treated her the way I believed she deserved to be treated, like a sickness…I had parts of her removed, medicated her, and numbed my pain.
How could I let this happen
People know I am all about alignment and wholeness. How could I let them see that alongside ALL the mental, emotional and spiritual awakening I’ve been experiencing, I was completely disconnected from the vessel they knew and loved. How did I grow and evolve while staying stagnant at the same time? (Wow… that statement played right into my belief that I was a fraud and didn’t belong)
I believe it’s because I had decades of practice at being a compartmentalizer…that I was able to maintain this foul relationship with my body. Although in most areas of my life, I sought out wholeness and ways to connect my thoughts, behaviours and my feelings, I still, out of habit, reserved a special spot in hell for her.
For years I’d been asking myself…
“What the fuck needs to happen for me to love my body, like everyone says I should?”
And perhaps it was the constant social pressure (I mean reminders) that my daughter’s developing self-image is determined by my words and actions and that if I wanted her to love her body (which I do), I needed to be the woman she needed me to be, not the woman I was being for myself.
I worked really hard at eliminating anything and everything that could be construed as body-shaming from our lives…I was on high-alert for anything that I recognized would lead her to the same place of self-loathing. And every time I reframed advertising or someone’s words so that my girls would be left with a “positive self-image”, my own shame-storm would rage, as I knew I didn’t truly believe what I was saying. I wanted to. I wanted to love my body just as it was. I wanted to see myself as sexy. I wanted to enjoy pictures of myself in my element. I wanted to feel limitless and worthy. I wanted to believe that this body deserved love.
I wanted to see her as me
To know her as me. To feel her as me. I wished for it … and in the next breath felt defeated by the lack of it.
Looking back, I’m not sure how I got here. There was no defining moment that I’m aware of. What I believe is that, I, like all women, am a product of how I experienced the world. My experiences determined how I perceived social norms and understood the expectations of others. How I learned the lessons that were directly and indirectly taught. How I made sense of the world.
I am still a product of how I experience the world. And through all the work I’ve done, my model of the world has stretched and evolved as did my perception of all things. And because I now know that everything happens as soon as it can…I realize that I needed to experience every other element of transformation in order to have the energy to make the huge shift to connect fully with my body…to see it AS me.
The story is common…I know that millions of women struggle with falling in love with their bodies. And my story is unique. I needed to live it. I needed to write and rewrite my story in order for it to be real for me.
I recall listening to other women express deep love and gratitude for their bodies, women of all shapes and sizes, and due to the lack of a trusting relationship between me and mine, I would instantly assume everyone of them was lying. Harsh thoughts that were perpetuated by my perception of the world (though my lens of self-loathing).
I had these treasonous thoughts regularly, and I knew well enough to not share them…what would that say about me… “Yeah I’m so fucking enlightened and yet I believe that some women couldn’t/shouldn’t love their bodies…because I don’t love mine!”
My turning point
I’ve been addressing social norms and shame culture openly and personally for a long time. And I know, that even though it felt like a switch was turned on and I instantly began to love my body, I have been walking this path for a long time. I believe the light turned on so that I could finally see.
The “switch”, the moment that will forever be defined as my shift from Asshole to Awesome, occurred during a Goddess Flow Yoga class. A few months ago I was asked to help my friend Jo, co-facilitate a Women’s Circle. (Nothing novel about that…I facilitate workshops and women’s circles regularly.) However what was different is that when I sat down to prepare…I couldn’t. I couldn’t visualize any part of the evening even though I know that yoga (her part) and reflection (my part)… go hand in hand… I couldn’t think of what to share.
At the time, I didn’t realize that a part of me was VERY aware of what was going to happen and to ensure I didn’t let fear get in the way… I didn’t allow myself to analyze what Goddess Flow Yoga is and what may happen.
The night began as most Circles do…intros and dimming of the lights. The energy was cleared and we all got grounded in space and time. I love Women’s Circles and the peace they offer. As part of my personal journey I’ve allowed myself to BE present in the company of women and this beautiful Circle was comfortable and safe. And similar to many yoga classes I’ve been to, there was talk about only doing movements your body is comfortable with…for the first 10 minutes I felt right at home.
I’ve come to understand
At most Circles the power comes from each individual’s experience. And it only took minutes for my body to let me know we were ready. Ready to reconnect to my feminine energy. Ready to meet each other as friends, as soul mates. Ready to (re)build a trusting relationship with my sensuality, my sexuality, my pleasure and my mind. I knew I was ready to listen to her, that I was ready to love her and take her in.
She has spent her entire life caring for me, carrying me. She has given herself to create life and hold it close. She is strong and fierce. She is the most loving being I know. And that night, for the first time in my life, I really saw her, I felt her, I fell in love with her and confidently said, out loud…
I AM HOME