Monday, March 9, 2020

Body Image ~ Going Deeper, My Journey


I have a post topic in mind for awhile...body image

Even as I sit here, wanting to type, wanting to talk about this I still find myself staling.  Why? Maybe because I am still trying to find the words, maybe because I am still working on this myself, or maybe it is me thinking that another time would be better.  I have been thinking, when I get to a certain weight, or reach a certain goal, or whatever else comes to mind that is when I will write about it.

But at the same time, I am telling myself that whelp, I didn't reach it so I don't have the ability to write or what do I really know about this topic.

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So, I started this post back in September or October 2019.  And set it aside, letting it sit in my drafts section.  I wasn't ready to delete it yet, but it seemed as if I wasn't ready to write on it completely.  What was holding me back from finishing?  Myself.  And now, here we are 5 or so months later, am I ready?

Body image is such tough topic for me to write on, but yet I feel the strong pull to do so.  I will be honest, in some ways I am not happy with where I am at with my own body currently.  But, I have learned a lot on this journey.

Whilst I, in my mind, don't think I am where I should be at as far as outward appearances (mainly the number on the scale), I am realizing that in focusing in on the wrong perspectives it is taking away from so much more.

We were given this one body.  This one body to carry us through everything on our journey.  Yet, for some of us, we don't treat it with the respect, kindness, and love it deserves.  Our bodies go through so much for us. 

Before kids, in all honesty, I generally didn't care a whole lot about the size or shape of my body.  Sure, I would notice I would have an off hair day and make a comment to myself about it and either let it be or toss it up in a pony tail.  Not really a big deal and move on through my day.  Make up and clothes were the same way.  Put the layers on, sometimes make a comment to myself, but then carry on with the day to day.

It wasn't until after having kids I took up arms with my body and battles ensued.  Clothes, never looked right or didn't feel comfortable in.  Makeup became more steps and more layers.  Hair, mostly in a pony tail or pulled back some how, because with kids and long hair are like glue.  I ended up getting it cut short when my oldest was just over a 1 years old (he will turn 7 next month) and have spent the time since then growing it out.

Yet I kept my thoughts and comments to myself, piling them on and piling them down deep.

My word for the month of March is release.  It is time to fully release all these layers and thoughts.  Release the things that I told myself and let go of the things I told myself as truths, but weren't really.

What started with a track of, my body failed, I am a failure after my first pregnancy led me to cover up in many layers and put many walls up.  I wanted to hide it all away.  And I let that track keep coming back after each pregnancy, letting it get louder and stronger each time.  The comments that stuck with me while pregnant, were only validation in that track.

My second pregnancy, I was frequently asked "when are you due?".  When I answered, the reposes were either: "oh, not until then" or "wow" followed by silence and a look of concern on their face.  I was even asked repeatedly if I was having twins or if I was sure I wasn't having twins.  Yup, I did gain quite a bit of weight, but my focus was on making sure that baby was alive and healthy, because we had a miscarriage at 17 weeks the last time around.  My view of how this could all go was, let's make it one more week, can we make it to one week, panic that I did something that wouldn't be good (even if it was just moving wrong).

With my third pregnancy, even though I didn't gain a whole lot of weight, I still got the question are you sure there aren't 2 in there?  Or was compared often to others pregnant at the same time, noting how I looked much bigger.

It was after my youngest was born that I was certain that yup my body had failed me.  I didn't like the way I looked and I battled myself daily.  Nothing I did, wore, put on, put in was right.  This sucked me in and sucked me down.  Then it began to affect all the things around me.

It wasn't until 8 months postpartum with my youngest that I sat there in the doctor's office face to face with what do I do, where do I go next.  I knew something wasn't right and something needed to change.  Her response was, it is okay and with what you have face in the last 4 years has been a lot.  She only knew it from the surface: first pregnancy miscarriage, second one high risk, third normal and boring (but now I had a 2 1/2 year old, plus we were gearing up to move)

This all seemed to culminate with all the comments during pregnancy, and in that moment I sunk.  I sunk down deep.  In the night as I nursed my baby, the tears flowed.  During the day I kept telling myself I wasn't doing enough, I wasn't good enough, I wasn't worthy, asked what value I had anymore, every mistake (big or small) was like a giant You Failed sign.

I was so hard on myself that most days I was merely surviving and didn't feel like I wasn't giving my best to any of my roles.  I lost sight of me, who I was, where I was headed, who God made me to be. 

When my youngest turned 1 I looked at those pictures of me and didn't recognize myself anymore.  I could see how distant my eyes were, how the physical signs of what my body had been through starting to show, and so much more.  It was a lot of layers covering up everything.

It was during that time I found another mom who became a mentor, and now friend.  She was running this workout program and I thought, this is what I needed.  This would be the jump start into taking care of me.  And it was, physically.  As did going to the chiropractor starting a year later.

However, while the physical side was being taken care of...at least on and off,  I was forgetting about the other pieces and the deeper layers.  Makeup become one of my ways to hide, eating and shopping became another way, repeatedly battling the scale was yet other, working myself out harder and harder was another.

It didn't matter how many times I looked in the mirror, I never really looked into the mirror.  And I never really looked into my heart.  I was truly at war with my body inside and out on a daily basis.

So what do I know about body image?  I know that mine wasn't where I thought it should be, the scale dictated my wins, and I needed the layers.

It wasn't magazine that I saw one day that led me to loathing myself.  It wasn't me comparing myself to someone else.

It was me starting with my body failed me which than turned into I am a failure, which then turned into I am not good enough.  That was a slow slide down the mountain at first.  But over the years it picked up speed and crashed at the bottom hard. 

What started in 2011 is still something I occasionally face even now, 9 years later.  While I have turned things around, realized somethings, replaced those so called truths with real truth I still trip up at times.

When I hit bottom in 2016 I had no where to go but up.  Yet, it wasn't until 2 years after that when I finally came to terms with something had to change and that change had to start with me.  Since then I found myself again and who I was meant to be, where to head. 

I slowly replaced the I am not enough with I am doing the best I can with where I am at and what I have.  Today's best may not be the same as yesterday's or tomorrow's, but in this moment, it is my best. 

I slowly replaced the what value or worth do I have (because I had started telling myself that because I was no longer bringing in a paycheck I had none) with my worth is in God, comes from God.  He gave me everything I have for a reason and while I may still be trying to figure out some of that, he gave it to me and even on the hardest days, the days I mess up, I still have value because my worth is in Him and He in me.  I may not be bringing in a paycheck, but I get to stay home with my kids.  I get to watch them grow up and be a part of the day to day.  I get to teach and guide my kids.  I get to take care of our house and home.

I started working on my heart, my mind.  I started working on my emotions and spirit.  I started working on the physical side of things.  I started to take care of me, giving myself the respect and love it deserved.  I laid down my battle swords.

I picked up truths and understanding.  I changed perspectives.  I tried and tried again.  I failed, I slipped, I made mistakes.  Each time I became a little stronger.  Each time a new layer was peeled back, a wall was knocked down.  Each time I became lighter and freer. 

Do I need to work on things still?  Yup, most definitely.  Do I still stumble and trip?  You bet, I even fall flat on my face occasionally.

But I am learning. I am trying.  I am changing.  I am growing.

I can and I am are both truly strong phrases.  They can take you one way in direction or the other.  But the truth still remains within our hearts.  It may be deeply buried, covered by layers, blocked by walls.  But it is there.

What do you need to tell yourself today to start peeling back the layers? To start knocking down walls?

These walls, these layers don't only apply to body image and what we think of ourselves or what we say to ourselves.  They get put on and built for lots of reasons. 

I encourage you, whatever the topic is start peeling back the layers.  Start knocking down the walls.  Start letting the truth free.

Philippians 4:13 (NIV) "I can do all things through him who gives me strength"

Where does your strength come from?  Where do you need to heal?  What do you need to set free?  What needs release?

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