I was so ready to skip right on by this – I mean, I legitimately thought I had it done, but also, it’s such a lifelong thing, this particular issue of body image. There is much I have done and much I have not done and much I wish I could just wave my wand and have done.
So today I’m to answer the questions “How do I feel about myself? Why is that the case? What will a healthy sense of self and a healthy life give to me?”
Well. It really depends on what part of my self we’re talking about, doesn’t it? If we’re talking about emotional intelligence or my mental abilities, I feel pretty good about myself. In terms of application, at least. I do get worried about blind spots and areas that need improving, but overall, these are areas I feel good about. I’ve done a lot of work in these areas. And I have some natural talent.
But we aren’t talking about those things because this book is about body image, so let’s get to it. Right now, I don’t feel great about my body. I don’t like how I look in my clothes. I don’t like that I’ve gotten to the size that required me to buy new clothes in a size I haven’t seen in over ten years. I don’t like that I can’t wear the clothes that I like because I’ve outgrown them and because they don’t make them big enough to buy new. Also, I don’t like the folds of fat that are hanging out all over the place or the way my ankles are swelling. But I’ll tell you what. There are some things I do like. I like that I can walk and get a little high out of it without being sore later. I like that since I’ve been here, I’ve moved my body a lot more and I like that the stairs that used to leave me breathless no longer do. I have mixed feelings about being tall – it’s kind of at the root of a lot of my image issues, but I’ll save that for the next BY entry. I like how I feel when I dance, as long as I don’t have to see myself.
Why is that the case? Well, because I have more fat in my body than I’d like. And I don’t have the stamina or strength I’d like to have. And quite honestly, it’s because I hate being physically uncomfortable. I don’t like feeling weak or sweaty or out-of-breath. I mean, yeah, I know I have to work through those things to get to where I feel strong and uh, breath-ful, but truth is, I hate the feeling of … pushing my body. Also, it’s the case that I’ve ate a lot of indulgent and unhealthy food, at the expense of healthy food. And I’ve drank too much, too often. The reasons for these things are not hunger or thirst. They are really about self-sabotage. I know there is room in a healthy lifestyle for occasional indulgence, but I am way beyond occasional and indulgence and right smack in the middle of frequent and harmful. While I often mix business with pleasure when it comes to food and drink, it turns out that my “business” is smothering things I don’t want to deal with, and that isn’t good.
A healthy sense of self and a healthy life seem very … redundant. Like if I have one, I will likely have the other. What I mean is this; I could have a very unhealthy sense of self and be anorexic (and I have) and an over-exerciser. It might appear that this was a healthy life, but it is not. If I exercise and eat well ONLY because I want to measure up to society’s dictates about how I should look, then that’s not healthy. Am I making sense here? Anyway, for me a healthy sense of self includes making it a top priority to take care of myself. And that means having a healthy life in body, mind and spirit. And I have a lot of work to do in order to make that a sustainable practice. But I feel like I’m getting at the core of it all, after 40 years. And that seems like a good thing. I just have to find the right tools now.