I’ve had a love hate relationship with my body all my life. When I was a teenager and woman in my 20’s I saw the power my body had to attract, lure and manipulate people into doing what I wanted. I used my attractiveness to gain power. This was both empowering and seedy, depending on how I looked at it. It ultimately didn’t make me feel good about myself. My body gained unwanted attention in the form of comments, leers, rape and sexual assault. Sometimes it didn’t feel safe to be in my body, so I spent a lot of my time disconnected from it, hovering above. When I started experiencing panic attacks and generalised anxiety, I felt like my body really let me down. I couldn’t trust my body to get me through what I needed to do without melting down. I berated my body angrily and let her know how disappointed I was. I just wanted to get rid of how she made me feel.
I look back at photos of my younger days and always notice how slim I was and comment ‘I was so skinny back then and I thought I was fat!’ I genuinely thought my belly was too fat. I remember comparing my stomach to my friend’s flat stomach and hating myself because mine gently curved outwards whereas hers was dead flat. We were performing in leotards in front of the school and I felt like all anyone would be noticing was my fat stomach!
I had an epiphany in the bath recently. I decided to take a selfie of my body to see myself from the outside, from an observer’s point of view. In the photo, I saw a 40 something year old woman's body that swelled, layered, folded and flowed. I saw imperfections with stories to tell. From this onlooker's perspective, I saw a body not nearly as fat, out of control and obscene as my mean inner critic eyes would have me believe.
It allowed me to reconsider and I decided to choose to see myself with the kind eyes of a curious, adoring friend. One who sees ME when they look at me, instead of all my faults, one who sees through the lens of unconditional love and compassion.
From this new, kinder stance, I can make choices based in love rather than fear.
I have really begun to make friends with my body in recent years. I’ve learned the only way to heal from panic attacks, anxiety and trauma is to befriend my body and work in partnership with her. I’ve softened and learned to accept how my body has changed and how it is likely to continue to change. Instead of pushing through regardless of how my body feels, I’m learning to slow down, check in and listen. By listening I can connect and be IN my body. This is such a pivotal change for me. I am learning my body is a place of comfort and pleasure, as well as my seat of knowing. My intuition speaks to me through the sensations in my body and to hear it I must be tuned in to the subtle changes my body gives me.
When I was asked to take part in 13 Goddesses Bare Their Soul, part of me was a ‘Hell Yes!’ and part of me was a ‘You must be joking!’. All the rules and judgements about the type of women who take naked photos of themselves and show them to other people swirled around in my head, but I knew the universe was handing me a synchronistic opportunity to love myself more deeply and to really embed this once and for all. Part of my soul journey is to share my story and in doing that to inspire others to heal and be braver, so how could I pass up this opportunity!
Then I will…
I’m on a life long, day by day journey of self-love and recognising my innate self worth. Learning to befriend, accept and love my body is central to this path. I have every intention to get to know my body more and more deeply and to continue practising self-compassion as I change and evolve.