Hey Lou Writes

The Grey Matters


Leave a comment

You Don’t Have A Soul (Part 2)

Alright. So, more than a year ago I wrote this blog on body image. It was largely about a discovery I had to make largely on my own, along with the support of other women. I couldn’t face my body image issues 100% alone, and I think that’s an unfair pressure to put on ourselves. We need other people. It isn’t an unhealthy dependency issue: it’s human. We need to love ourselves, trust that others care for us, and also to remember that God made us the way we are for a reason. Even though I think bodies are just plain absurd, we live in them the whole time we’re walking the earth.

Which leads me to answer Question 4 in my 20 Questions Every Woman Should Ask Herself Series

4. Am I In My Body?

When I lost all confidence in my body, my sexuality and my ability to look in the mirror without disgust and despair, I often had the terrifying sensation that I was floating above my body. I felt completely disconnected. I looked down at my legs and thought, “How can these huge things be mine?” I looked in the mirror and thought, “Who wants to see this weird face?” And I absolutely thought, “Am I desirable at all?

And as much as I tried to advertise this choice as a brave and strong thing to do (which in a small way, it was), I also buzzed all of my hair off. I didn’t want it. I wanted to hide, yet I wanted to scream right in the middle of every single room I stood in. “Am I beautiful NOW?!!” Having no hair was like a strange mixture of both of those desires.

I remember driving often in the middle of the night, feeling as though I was hovering over my existence. Surely, this couldn’t be my body. I almost didn’t feel anymore. I often alluded to and wrote about feeling like a skeleton — no nerve endings, no sensations, just a hollow mess. This was my worst moment and I’m sharing it because I own it… I learned from it… and I’m no longer there.

If this sounds anything like you, I want you to know that this too shall pass. It might take:

-a girlfriend listening to you cry

-visiting your parents and asking them to remind you where you came from

-getting a divorce or breaking up

-reconciling with your significant other

-praying every day…..

but I can assure you that what won’t help this to pass is to battle it all alone and retreat to  your closet.

I had so many helping me, and one of the biggest challenges I faced was to LET THEM. I had to put aside my pride (even when we feel we have no pride…) and face the reality that I wasn’t going to get better unless I had love and compassion. I’m so blessed to have had it. God didn’t give up on me, and neither did my family. This showed me that I didn’t have to give up on myself, either.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Everyone is capable of feeling this low. It doesn’t actually have anything to do with what we physically look like — but it has everything to do with the state of our souls. Which is good, because that means everyone is capable of rising up again.

C.S. Lewis said, “You don’t have a soul. You are a soul, and you have a body.”

I love love love this. We have bodies to get us where we need to go. We have nerve endings connected to every inch of our skin so that we know when we’re in danger. We also have the amazing ability to feel the loving touch of another. I think for a good two years, I relied on hugs to get me through the day.

Not everyone’s #1 love language is touch. Mine is, but touch might be lower on your own personal list. However, it’s this love language that directly relates to being in our bodies, so I’m going to focus on that.

It’s ironic, because now that I’m in the most loving relationship of my entire life, with more fulfilling touch that I ever thought possible, I know that it took some serious alone time to get here.

I could’t skip that step. I was alone in the sense of not having a significant other, not alone in the sense of community and support. In fact, when I first met my husband, I had a whole schpeal about how strong I was alone and how much I liked doing my own thing and not needing desperately for someone to hold me.

I could finally fall asleep easily, eat with total and full enjoyment, and look in the mirror and think, “Thank you God for this body.”

When it came time to trust another human being with my body, I was ready. I was ready to leave the kitchen because I was no longer starving. (something my mom once said to me:) )   I wasn’t desperately wondering who would love me or if I’d ever be desirable to another human being.

I can proudly say that yes, I am in my body. I feel like I belong here. I look down and I think, “These legs have taken me far.” Sometimes, jokingly, I also say, “Gosh, thanks for the big strong calves, dad.” When I’m PMSing and feel bloated, I touch my stomach and my hips and my thighs and I realize that I love being a woman, and that curves are more than okay. This process is happening because my body is meant to build another human being. I mean, woah. When I’m alone with myself, I take a good look and I get to know myself. But I don’t obsess in front of the mirror. That never did me a second of good.

Romance to me is my husband seeing me fully and knowing I don’t need to hide a single thing. It helps that I have someone who tells me I’m beautiful and does everything from holding my hand to rubbing my back when I’m on my period. (But I survived before I had this!!)

And feminism to me is spreading the word that all bodies are different and okay. The false expectations that little girls have today breaks my heart. There are fake bodies everywhere and it needs to be discussed. The way I choose to combat this in a female-positive way is to explain to my step daughters that the next few years hold a lot of changes for them, but that they’re completely unique and won’t look like anyone else. I use my own family as an example… four daughters, all with completely different shapes and sizes. All beautiful.

yoga

and sometimes it’s heading to a yoga class you’ll giggle your way through!!! ;) <3

So my answer is YES, I am in my body. I am in here for good, with all of the flaws and all of the weirdness. And now I’m united through marriage with someone else, too, so I feel that my soul and body have expanded. Two become one is real, and it’s even possible while maintaining your own identity.

Because: two halves don’t equal a whole. Two wholes come together to create an equal partnership that can stand the test of time.

I would never have been able to trust and deal with the difficulties of my own current situation if I hadn’t first healed up and become whole… soul and body united for good.

And there you have it: my journey to being in my body, the one that God gave me and the one that I need to live with and love for the rest of my days.

Are you in your body? If not, please don’t ever give up. If you are, share your story and love others as much as you possibly can.

And for the love of God, let’s stop comparing ourselves to others. Another great quote I’ll end with is this: Comparison is the killer to all happiness. 

Cheers to bodies and to the healing, love and kindness we can give ourselves every day. Cheers to the next generation and all the little girls who need role models who toss out the fashion magazines and roll out of bed radiating beauty, because they know that beauty has nothing to do with hair or makeup or boob size or the perfect outfit.

Love,

wild-feminist

Lou (who wants to wear this shirt every single day)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements


1 Comment

No Excuses, No Pity: Just Forgiveness

As we can tell from any Facebook or Instagram feed, the world is really into empowering women these days. A fact I love, and I fact I want to keep moving forward with as I answer the 20 Questions Every Woman Should Ask Herself.

forgiveness-3

I read through the questions and realized that I’d be even stronger, even more aware of my own self and my heart, after answering the questions honestly and slowly. I encourage any one stumbling upon this blog post (male or female!) to ask yourself these questions, too. Your answers will of course be completely different, but my hope is that by sharing my own thoughts you will explore yours, too.

Question 4: Who Do You Need to Forgive?

This is a day I’ve been avoiding. I’ve spoken with a few friends about this topic. In these conversations I mused:

“How am I going to write this without giving in to the all-too-Midwestern style of passive aggressiveness?”

“I’m really, really having a hard time forgiving. Just currently.”

“But the person I need to forgive was really, extremely awful. So…”

I KNOW I’m not alone with these excuses or thoughts behind my lack of forgiveness. I just have a hunch.

Then I started going the other direction.

“Maybe instead of feeling anger and hatred toward anyone I need to forgive I can feel sorry for them instead. That makes me feel a little bit better.”

“Maybe a good conversation would help. I need to do that first. I need [x person] to know just exactly how they made me feel. Maybe I can start compiling a list of all the specific words that hurt the most. Show my vulnerability, eh?”

“You know, I need more time, is all.”

NO!!! Wrong. I was so wrong. And changing anger into pity isn’t exactly the right thing to do, either. Because you know what? That still makes it about them. It’s wasted energy. In the same vein, needing to express myself in order to forgive is a form of selfishness. And forgiveness, I’m pretty sure, is a matter concerning God and ourselves.

I realized I could, eventually, forgive. This is nothing — not compared to what I’ve already accomplished. I remember a day when I finally forgave someone, and it was the hardest thing I’d ever done. You want to know who I forgave?

MYSELF. 

I was angry at myself and ashamed. I punished myself for a few years. I thought I was damaged goods and I picked up a few bad habits that I thought would serve as justifiable punishment. I then went through a period where I blamed everyone else. It made me feel just a bit better to at least have someone to point a finger at to explain why I had done what I’d done. It feels better to not feel so guilty. But then it feels even worse and the guilt doubles… knowing you’ve placed blame far from where it belongs. It’s sad to look back on those times, but it also gives me a sense of wonderment I wouldn’t otherwise have concerning where I’ve landed. I remember the day I forgave myself. I remember crying and thanking God and feeling free from some pretty awful things I’d done. I stopped punishing myself.

During that time and after, I had awakenings… moments of beauty that wouldn’t exist otherwise. I learned who I was– down to a core I didn’t know went so deep.

forgiveness-2

All of that is to say:

Forgiving ourselves is always hardest, right? I think so at least. Even if there are some unsettled feelings in my soul right now, I know for a fact that I will overcome those feelings and eventually forgive. It won’t take nearly as much time as it took when it came to looking at my own mistakes. I have forgiven so many people and I’ve been forgiven by many as well.

I cannot forget that I’ve been forgiven not only by tons of people… many of whom I probably am not even aware of … but also by God.

“Give us this day our daily bread,

and forgive us our trespasses

as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

The Lord’s Prayer is a powerful one for me. It takes me back to my Lutheran Church upbringing. It makes me feel safe — right inside those words.

How can I forget all the forgiveness and love I’ve been shown? How?

Because I’m human, I guess. But I can also rise above this, humble myself, and learn yet again how to forgive… even without all of the stipulations. I can give myself time, sure. I can remember the seasons.

Mostly, I can pray for God to help me with this.

Who do you need to forgive? Have you already conquered it? Is that person still yourself, like it used to be for so many of us?

Know that whatever stage you’re in, you’re not alone in it.

forgiveness-4

Love, Lou (who maybe needs forgiveness for ending this post with yet another selfie)

 


6 Comments

Comfortable, Vulnerable and {Never} Embarrassed

About a year ago I went to the Minnestota state fair with my {then} friend {now husband.} It was fun enough, and I got to experience some of the charm… including tons of beer, tons of garlic fries, and even eating the inside of a fried Snickers bar. We ended our night watching the Avett Brothers perform from outside the stadium. We could hear the music and just barely see a screen from the side of the stage. Israel ran up the staircase outside the place in order to find the best spot for the free-from-the-outside show. I could have stood there forever, listening to music and feeling a little rush when our elbows touched.

But this story is really about what happened the next day.

I was all the way in St. Paul house sitting, and around 3 AM I woke up, in horror, realizing that something hadn’t gone well. I was puking my guts out, and to this day, I blame the garlic fries and the remnants of gluten I probably ate when I sloppily ingested the inside of that fried Snickers.

What’s a gal to do? Having lived a long life of stomach problems, I could have just toughed it out alone. But I have also learned that it’s better to have someone there. So I texted my friend, told him I was sick as a dog, and he almost immediately told me he was coming.

Folks, that’s when you know you have a true friend.

He drove all the way back to the Twin Cities that morning, with gluten free crackers and bottles of ginger ale. We both laugh when we remember that moment. I opened the door: hair a mess, obviously been throwing up, teeth unbrushed, disheveled pajamas and a smile, because I wasn’t alone anymore.

It’s a powerful thing to realize that you can be with someone without having to put on a single front. We didn’t talk much. I think he apologized profusely, feeling a little guilty that I ate crap food and wound up sick.

Here’s what we did: I laid on the bed with my butt sticking up in the air, arms folded over my stomach, and Israel laid on the other side of the bed, occasionally rubbing my back. We faced each other (me, completely gross, eyes crusty, face greenish pale) and talked, we took turns playing songs, listening to them in silence, and I knew he was someone special.

I knew that we were both experiencing a certain kind of love, but I wasn’t sure how to name it.

My dad’s always preaching about the four different Greek loves. My favorite is Agape: the all encompassing, unconditional love that God gives us. Eros is your romantic love, between you and another person. There’s Philia, the brotherly love we feel for friends and for our hometowns. Storge is mostly the family love we can’t help but feel for our blood relatives (or step kids!). There’s a lot more to each one, and probably a good amount of debate considering what they mean, but this is what I’ve always taken away from the information given.

I love (not sure which kind) that the Greeks figured out that we really do need to define these different types. When I say “I just love you” to one of my best girlfriends, it is different from when I say “I love you” to my husband. When I thank God for the love He gives me and try to convey that I am trying to love Him with all I have, that’s a whole different deal as well. I’ve been pondering this as I thought of what I’d write today.

The second question in my 20 Questions Every Woman Should Ask Herself series is this:

2. How do you want to be loved?

I’m very happy to report that lately, I’ve learned a lot more about this answer. I used to think that love between two people meant that you didn’t argue much and laughter was the #1 thing happening between you.

Oh, how wrong I was.

Years later, and I’m a total work in progress, taking in all that love really is and I have a partner who shows me love in ways I didn’t actually know existed.

Fast forward another year, and we are no longer just friends, and he doesn’t have to drive forty minutes to see me in my time of need. Very recently, I was sick again, and I had to laugh because it was the same old scenario… no glamour, no trying, to pretense.

It was again with the messy everything on my person, and this time I laid down on the bed with a box of tissues, a cup of tea from my husband, and we talked about life while he stretched on the floor and worked out a tweak in his back.

To any spectator, it does not look like a scene filled with romance. But to me, I realized, it is exactly how I want to be loved. I want to be loved at my very worst… whether it’s the bad week I’m having and so I am the most cranky to the one who deserves it least, or I smell really bad because I’m sick and just haven’t gotten in the shower yet, or I’m crying because of those ridiculous reasons that make us cry…. and it’s a miracle, because I actually feel the most love from my husband when I’m in these exact moments. It’s not when I’ve dressed up and put on mascara for the date night we finally had a chance to have together. It’s not when I put on a fake smile and tell him that my day was awesome, even when it wasn’t. (though there is still love present in those moments, too)

img_20160906_122843

I want to be loved in the most real way possible, which is imperfect, messy, and full of vulnerability. It’s the moments that we were taught are the most embarrassing, but are actually the most gracious. It’s the times we are comfortable being uncomfortably real with one another.

The best part is: I feel my heart open up and love better the more I see that imperfection in him, too.

I am forever grateful for the love I receive daily from family, friends, and my husband. I’m so thankful to be living a life where I don’t feel the need to make sure all signs of the drool that’s dried on my face is gone before he sees me in the morning. Nope, it’s usually there. And it doesn’t even stop him from giving me a kiss! Miracles, folks. Miracles.

Cheers to the moments we are vulnerable.

And the moments when we clean up and go out into the world are definitely worth a cheers, too.

Oh, and here’s to comfortable LOVE, the kind that is no longer embarrassing. Because that is 100% up to us.

Love,

screenshot_2016-09-07-09-57-28-1-2

Lou (who wants oregano oil to be the answer to all sickness, and has learned through humbling moments that sometimes nyquil does in fact help. Israel, you were right.)