You can heal your relationship with your body, have joyful moments, and not obsess over what your body looks like. It’s not an overnight miracle and takes a lot of commitment on your part, yet it is so worth it. This very recent experience of mine highlights how worth it is!
I spent the day with my husband on Sunday. We took time to bring my mom some groceries and then headed south of town, winding down the road next to the Mississippi River, on the lookout for bald eagles. When we pulled into the small town along the way, we spied one in a tree. We stood in awe of this massive bird as he took off from the tree and soared over the river. We snapped photos of him, and then turned the camera towards ourselves and snapped a few selfies of ourselves. My husband even snapped a few shots of me. I eventually posted these photos on social media, with no anguish or shaming about how I looked. I actually thought I looked radiant, joyful, at peace.
Not once during the day did I think about my body nor about changing it. Yes, you read that right. Not once. Yet, it was not too long ago that my day would have gone something like this:
I would have spent a lot of time trying on multiple outfits to wear before leaving the house with my husband. “Nothing” looked good. I would bash my body in the mirror for some hated body part – my breasts were too big, my thighs were too wide or the fat on my back was too noticeable underneath my shirt. It would then turn into conversations in my head about how I just can’t lose weight and control my body. I would start to shut down and numb from feeling anything. I would have been so upset about the experience in the mirror that I’d not be fully present to experience the moments throughout the day. My inner judge would have capitalized on the episode in the mirror and shamed me the whole car ride to our destination. I’d be mentally exhausted by the time we reached our destination because the judge would convince me that I needed another diet. Somehow I wasn’t good enough the judge would convince me.
Then, as we stood to take photos, I would have refused to post any online because my chin was too big or some other body part wasn’t good enough. The internal bashing would continue on the car ride home. I’d be mentally absent for my husband and emotionally empty for myself. My husband would notice that something was off and I may have even snapped at him about something he said or did, all because of my experience earlier in front of the mirror. Feeling like I needed to change my body made me unable to experience life to its fullest. Any waking hour was spent agonizing over my body, my weight, and how to change it. I had no space for living my life.
It’s no wonder my relationships were unfulfilling. I didn’t have space for love. I didn’t have space for empathy. My judge convinced me I wasn’t good enough if I didn’t look a certain way or weigh a certain weight. When I’d get home, I’d seek out comfort with food. I couldn’t take all the internal bashing. I craved so much love that I sought it out in the foods I ate or the unhealthy boundaries I didn’t set with others. Because I couldn’t give myself the love I needed, I gave it away freely to others.
Does this sound like you? If so, my heart goes out to you. It is so hard to feel anything but shameful about yourself when this dialogue runs your life. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. You CAN heal your relationship with your body and food. I am living proof. I got dressed in what felt comfortable to me in the morning. I didn’t bash in the mirror. I didn’t have dialogue running in my head about how I could change my body. I stayed in the moment during the time with my husband. I felt joy. Real joy. The joy you feel when you know you are worthy and aren’t chasing after changing your body. It’s a wonderful feeling. You can feel this way too!