Saturday, October 01, 2005

Summer of Self-Love

This may be a little long but it's a piece of my journey I'm really wanting to share...

At the beginning of summer one of my favorite bloggers, Andrea Scher, offered her readers a challenge which she called a time capsule. Basically, she encouraged us to put our wildest, biggest dreams in writing, similar to one of those essays you would have written in elementary school titled "How I Spent My Summer." Andrea was hoping that by writing out our dreams as if they had already come to pass, it would not only encourage us to strive for those dreams, but it would help them to manifest within this time frame. After writing them out, we were to send our time capsules to Andrea, who would mail them back to us at the beginning of autumn.
I knew immediately what my summer goal would be. A couple of weeks before Andrea issued her challenge I had an eye opening experience. I was sitting cross legged on the floor sifting through a huge box of photographs when my "Aha!" moment nailed me. In photo after photo I was getting a good, honest look at myself and do you know what I saw? A beautiful woman. This may not sound like much but for me it was because I have never believed that about myself. I realized by working my way through that box of photos that I had been at war with my body almost my entire life...and I was so tired of it. Tired of the struggle, tired of the self-torture and self-loathing. Tired of never having been able to see the truth. And, I was angry as well, angry that I had chosen to believe the lies, angry that I had wasted so much precious energy on being so cruel to myself, angry at a society that plays right into these lies. So when I pulled out my notebook to compose my essay I knew my dream was to let go, to surrender, to stop the war I'd been in for as long as I could remember.
My goal this summer was to find a freedom and acceptance that I had never experienced before. This girl, who can't remember a day in her life when she wasn't on some kind of diet, who punished herself for any failures, who actually married a man who perpetuated these lies by pointing out the women she should look like and withdrawling his affection if she ate something she shouldn't eat (yes, I know, he was an asshole, it's okay to say it, and no, we're no longer married), this girl who has spent a portion of her life struggling with both anorexia and bulemia, seeing various therapist, and taking Prozac, was ready to let it go. I was ready to accept my beauty and to give myself permission to be beautiful. I was ready to stop depriving myself and to let my weight be whatever it would be. But it goes further than this...I was ready to be a minister of beauty. I was ready for my definition of beauty to explode, instead of carrying around society's definition of beauty which is so limiting. I was ready to see the beauty in everyone and I was ready to somehow commit to helping other women accept their beauty as well. I was ready for myself and other women to stop beating themselves up, to stop hiding behind closed doors or baggy clothes, to start looking in the mirror without shame, and to stop shunning photographs. It was time.
I received my essay in the mail from Andrea this week. So how did I do? One summer isn't enough to undergo this radical a transformation, but it is just long enough to get well on my way. I'll be honest with you. The first two months or so were terrible. I was as unhappy giving myself freedom as I was living in loathing. Everytime I let my self eat what I wanted to eat I had to wrestle with the guilt. And most days I really thought my belly was taking over my body and my life. I was so volatile. I felt like I was exploding all over the place, both physically and emotionally. Trey and Britton caught the worst of it and I'm surprised they continued to let me live in the same home. Not only was I coming to terms with myself, which was harder than I ever imagined, but every little thing that had anything to do with weight or body issues set me off - innocent comments, facial expressions, commercials, magazine covers. Everything seemed to fuel my fire. But the fire was necessary. It was burning and consuming all the crap I'd been holding inside for years. And I don't want the fire to die out. It's the fire that will keep me going. It's the fire that will help me fight against a society that keeps women tied up in the lies I'd been living.
Here I am, on the other end of summer, and I survived it and I'm at a place of grace and compassion that I have never been before. I'll admit I'd still love to loose 10-15 lbs and get back to my pre-Britton weight. Maybe I'll always wrestle with that. I don't know. But I'm realizing that every battle isn't meant to be won...that sometimes the smartest and most gracious thing you can do is surrender because the enemy, well she's not that bad, in fact she looks an awful lot like me, just very scared and terribly wounded...and she needs every ounce of compassion she can get so that an amazing healing can take place.


Blogger dani said...

you sound like you've been living with a huge burden for such a long time. congratulations to you for wanting to unburden it. and for succeeding with it. i hope you can continue with how you want to live. huge applause to you!

7:42 PM  
Blogger snowsparkle said...

This weary, hot-flashing, 51 year old woman is so glad to have your honest, insightful blog to read at 4 am when the rest of the house is asleep and my mind is endlessly running through its "what i should have done better" loop. Your words, your photos and YOU are powerfully beautiful.

4:12 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

Thanks for being honest. It's a hard battle, and you are fighting, exploring, searching, and digging your way through it. What an inspiration. Keep going, don't stop. I've struggled with Anorexia, and no matter how far I think i am away from it, really it's always there tempting me. Thanks for sharing.

9:09 AM  
Blogger Marit Cooper said...

I came to this realisation 5 years ago; that I had allowed other people to define me all my life - who I was, who I ought to be and why I wasn't good enough. This is a strange world where most of us seem to live in a labyrinth of mirrors. Where ever people look they see only reflections of themselves. The people who tell you who you should be are most of the time just saying what they need to hear themselves. After years of beating up on myself and suffering through bad relationships I realised that it was not I that was unlovable, but that the people who could love me were few and far apart.

10:00 AM  
Blogger mati rose said...

wow! i loved reading this about you and your beauty ministering! before i even read your words i looked at the picture and thought that you looked beautiful... your eyes, smile & LOVe your freckles ma' dear:) what a powerful realization... i want to adopt more of your acceptance with self. thank you for sharing. AND you are such a good writer!

4:20 PM  
Blogger Stef said...

this is so beautifull written and about such a beautiful woman. i hope we can all do this for ourselves and realize how we are all so beautiful.

thank you for sharing yourself with all of us.

such a pleasure!

8:52 PM  
Blogger dpsinger said...

Wow! Wow! I am a little late in reading your post, but I am overwhelmed. Thank you for sharing. I, too, have struggled with the same feelings and it is so nice to hear you story. Thank you, Michelle. I truly thank you...

6:01 PM  
Anonymous Donna Maria said...

God, help me to accept the truth about matter how beautiful it is!

Good for you. I think your stunning...inside and out.

6:32 PM  
Blogger shash said...

what a tremendous, moving post. i too am late in reading it. and i second what others have said about your writing and your beauty. thanks so much for sharing. you are lovely!

2:47 PM  

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