I realize this is a big, dramatic headline, but it literally came to me last night and would not leave me, even in my dreams. I woke up with a very clear idea of what I wanted this blog post to be, and I couldn’t wait to get to a quiet place to sit and write.
I have been at war for half my life. More than half my life, and if you’ve read this blog for a while, then you have a pretty good understanding what kind of war I’m talking about. I started my first “diet” at the tender age of 14. FOURTEEN! Think about this. I am now 39! For 25 long years I have fought a war against my body. Two and a half decades I devoted to being thin, beautiful, and desirable. My enemy? My very own body. Twenty five years I have told my body, that it is not quite good enough, thin enough, lean enough, fit enough. My breasts were too big or too little, my thighs too fat, my belly too soft, my knees to crooked, my freckles… too freckly.
Throughout this journey my body has done what it had to do. It supported me, adjusted to every new diet that I threw at it. It digested, it fought, it healed, it recovered from illness. It never failed me. But it stared back at me silently, when I stood naked in front of my mirror, telling it how much I hated it, how much I hated myself for my inability to become perfect. My husband kindly and patiently endured my temper tantrums, my tears and frustration. He told me, “I love you just the way you are.” And I thought, “Liar! Don’t you know that I have eyes? I see myself in the mirror! I know exactly what I look like! How can you LOVE this just as it is? How can you love this, when your favorite actress is Buffy or that redhead doctor from Grey’s Anatomy?”
Do you see the destructive talk? My poor husband couldn’t make it right, because I accused him of lying to me. Because my jealousy of these gorgeous women on TV blinded me so completely to the good qualities that I possess, that I was unable to accept any other reality. I know in my heart, that my husband told me the truth. He does love me just the way I am. After all, he stuck with me through all of this. After 13 1/2 years of marriage, he’s still here, still loving me, still giving me all the support that I could possibly ask for and more. Heck, I have my favorite actors! I ❤ Hugh Jackman. He’s just soooo dreamy! But this doesn’t mean that I don’t love my husband just the way he is.
My husband was not the one with the issues. I was. I knew I wasn’t being fair. Not to my body, not to my husband, not to the actresses that I secretly hated.
The truth is, I was getting really, really tired. I hated being at war against my body. And I kept telling myself that I’m done. But I was getting something wrong. The decision to be done with the war, doesn’t just make everything nice and easy. You don’t suddenly feel great and wonderful, because you’re still stuck with that less than perfect body. What I really needed was a wake up call… And you know, what they say, when the student is ready, the teacher will come. My husband went away on business. When he’s gone, I have a habit of staying up longer at night. Can’t say why. I just do. A couple of nights ago, I found a book on the dresser, written by Cherie Carter-Scott, “If life is a game, these are the rules”. And here’s a quote from the very first chapter.
The body you are given will be yours for the duration of your time here. Love it or hate it, accept it or reject it, it is the only one you will receive in this lifetime. It will be with you from the moment you draw your first breath to the last beat of your heart. Since there is a no-refund, no -exchange policy on this body of yours, it is essential that you learn to transform your body from a mere vessel into a beloved partner and a lifelong ally, as the relationship between you and your body is the most fundamental and important relationship of your lifetime. It is the blueprint from which all your other relationships will be built.
Wow, this made me cry. Beloved partner? Lifelong ally? I can honestly say, that I have never really given my body the opportunity to be my partner and ally. Here is another quote, and it, too, had me in tears, because I recognized myself.
For many people, their body is the target for their harshest judgments and the barometer by which they measure their self-worth. They hold themselves up to an unattainable standard and berate themselves for coming up short of perfection. Since your physical shape is the form in which you show up in the world, it is very often the way you define yourself, and often the way others define you….
How many times has a potentially wonderful day at the beach been tainted by your judgments about how you look in a bathing suit?
BAM! There you have it. Let that sink in for a bit. Just a few words, that may not have an impact on another person. They made me sit up straight in my bed. With tears in my eyes I finally, finally started to understand. Sure, I thought many times before that I understood. But I just don’t think I was being honest with myself. I may have called a truce before, but I never really declared that the war was over.
Even in my previous blog posts I declared that I still had a certain amount of weight to lose in order to be happy. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with wanting to lose weight. There is nothing wrong with wanting to get in better shape. But how can you accomplish all of this, when you set a goal, that you may never reach? When have you lost enough weight? When are you fit enough? When will you reach that moment, when it’s good, when it’s alright? That moment may never arrive, if you don’t start making peace right now.
A couple of years ago, after losing about 35lbs and reaching my goal weight, I realized something. I still wasn’t happy. I had lost all the weight, but now I wasn’t happy, because my belly was still soft, my breasts were now sadly deflated, my thighs were still too big…. I set more goals. Firm abs, thinner, firmer thighs… and who knows, maybe some plastic surgery for those sad boobies.
Now, I’m almost 20lbs heavier than I was then. And I will have a liver resection in two weeks. Soon, there will be an enormous scar on my soft belly. I’m a little bit scared of what it will look like. But… I’m declaring peace. Yesterday and today I stood in front of the mirror naked, and I thanked my body, and I offered my friendship to it. Yeah, it felt a little odd, but I still did it. I welcomed it to be my beloved partner and lifelong ally. Then I got dressed, pulled my sweater over my jeans, turned to the side and caught myself critically inspecting the image in the mirror. I looked at my face and grinned. Got ya!
Trying to live in peace does not mean, that you will instantly fall in love with your body. It simply means, that you are really willing to work on this relationship with the one thing you can’t ever get rid of… your body! It means that you are willing to say thank you for sticking with you, for always supporting you, no matter what. It will always do its very best to keep you as healthy as possible, even when you’re ill, have a disease, are overweight etc….
My husband already loves myself just the way I am. Maybe it’s time I learned to do the same.
I find that when we really love and accept and approve of ourselves exactly as we are, then everything in life works.”