This past week, I found myself caught in some moments that so many of my client’s describe. Oftentimes, they will tell me about a moment in a dressing room where they see their reflection, and it rocks their whole sense of self. It feels earth shattering for them. Why the dressing room? Well, those flourescents are certainly not the best, but oftentimes, their frustration stems from being confronted with a reality they would rather fly under the radar with, pretend isn’t happening, and when three mirrors are telling you the same thing, it can FEEL devastating.
Well, specializing in natural weight-loss and body love, I truly believed I was starting to become immune to all the body hang-ups. Until some moments came up for me that begged me to slow down for a minute and consider where I MAY still have a pain point or two.
I was at dinner with my awesome Mother, who, because she is my Mother, is always aware of everything that is going on with my body. Am I eating enough? Am I sick? Am I stressed? She also tells me I’m beautiful and smart and important at least 17 times every time I am around her. She asks my husband every time she sees him if he knows how lucky he is. I have an amazing Mama.
I was sitting on one of those metal grated chairs that leaves imprints on your legs, and towards the end of dinner, I said, “These things on the back of my legs are killing me.” (Meaning the imprints the chair has made).
“Oh, you can get rid of those if you want to, but it’s expensive. I’ve always wanted to,” my Mother replied. For a moment I wasn’t sure what she was talking about. Then, I had a quick wave of panic wash over me. My spider veins. She was referring to my spider veins. She saw them too?
Somewhere in resisting reality, I had convinced myself I was the only one who could see my the purple cascade of veins that washed over the back of my legs, the purple forest that seemed to be growing every year and settling into a new area on my legs. Deep down I knew they were there, but as a self-protective mechanism, I REALLY wanted to pretend they weren’t. When I saw them in dressing room mirrors, I would tell myself it was the lighting, that my MIND was over-exaggerating them.
When she acknowledged them, I couldn’t pretend anymore and I had a moment of horror.
Then, slowly, I started to laugh to myself. I brought myself back from the brink. Of course I have spider veins! And of course she has eyes! She has them too! My grandmother did as well! They are handed down my maternal line!
The problem was not that I have spider veins. The problem was that I was twisting the facts in my mind. I was making the presence of spider veins mean something about my value, my beauty and even my place in the world. I was making it mean that there was a very clear undesirable part of myself that should be hidden, and if it can’t be hidden, well we should all collectively pretend they don’t exist together. We should all have a mutual understanding that we do not speak of these things! I was taking the fact that I have spider veins (that yes, are growing every year), and equating that to a direct threat on my worth.
And I realized…it will never end unless I end it. I cannot teach others to love their bodies if I won’t fully BE WITH my own.
The excuses to resist being fully present with myself used to be about the amount of fat I had on my body. Once I got on track with my nutrition and self-care and lost the weight, then it was my ass. Then I started swinging kettle bells and that problem solved itself. Then it was that my nipples are too muted of a pink, my breasts hang the wrong way, my skin is too translucent, my bottom teeth are crowded, my hands are stubby, right down to “the spider veins ruin it all.”
I was so grateful for that moment because it taught me that for every wound we uncover, there is an opportunity to heal it, to unburden ourselves and to let go.
The next day, I stood in a dressing room in TJ Maxx (I am a maxx-inista). I took it all off, and I made myself look, and really TAKE IN the backs of my legs. I had never done that before because I REALLY didn’t want to be present with the purple forest. I made myself take in my shape, take in all the colors, the smoothness, the dimples, the wholeness and completeness of my physical self. When I dropped the cultural story that “spider veins are ugly”, suddenly I could see them in a new way. They were just purple squiggles. They meandered as they pleased. I had to laugh to myself because looking in that mirror, I was taken aback by how beautiful it all was. When I was able to drop the story and the SHOULDS of how my body should look, suddenly it was just a body and I felt myself exhale. I could finally stop fighting it and say “I got you.”
There are things we are in control of and things that we aren’t. And yes, I can pay to remove those purple squiggles if I choose. What I know I am in control of NOW is how I nourish myself, how I choose to move, how I choose to speak to myself and how I defend myself from my own pre-conditioned thoughts. When I stop blaming my body for my lack of contentment, society for teaching me the wrong way, or an ex-lover for saying the wrong thing and am able to OWN my experience of myself, a new feeling starts to come over me. It’s called empowerment and it feels a hell of a lot more relaxing.
A few days later, I saw a picture of myself. Even thought I am thinner than I have ever been, something caught my eye. I laughed out loud when I realized that cellulite on the back of my legs wasn’t a “lie I made up in my mind” either. It’s there. It’s real. When I bend a certain way, the cellulite comes out to play. I laughed because I realized how silly I had been, and that it doesn’t mean a damn thing about who I am, if I’m beautiful and what I’m going to do with this, as Mary Oliver would put it, “wild and precious life.”
So, what part of yourself can you start to be present with? What have you been “looking away” from? How can you start to take ownership of your own experience NOW.
Share your experiences below!!! And if this resonates with you, share with a friend, or two or five. We are all in this together.
You hold the power.
Rock On & Be Well,