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