I Show Myself Love When

I went on a really terrible walk today. It is the second time in a week where an attempt at self-care has gone wrong.

This morning when I was getting ready for a client appointment I put on the pants I had picked out only to discover they would not close, at all. These pants that fit with a little extra room two months ago are now so tight I was no where near buttoning them, it was a total lost cause. I almost cried. I tried to make myself feel better, It is okay that you have gained a little weight, what matters is how you feel, not the number.. You washed these pants recently, maybe they shrunk.

I got myself through that moment and moved on with my day.

By this evening I still felt the cloud of self-loathing hanging over my head. I did not want to turn to food to fill this feeling of emptiness so I went for a walk with Lu. I always feel better when I meditate at the park, out in nature I would find my connection and come home feeling more balanced and grounded.

When we left the house I heard my neighbor across the street scream-talking to another neighbor. Oh God, No… I am not a big fan of the scream-talking neighbor. She seems to have trouble with appropriateness and has done things in the past that have made me uncomfortable. Luckily she was very engaged with the neighbor she was talking to so I just waved and walked on.

When I got to the park Lu pooped. Good girl honey. I took the poop bag from her leash and bent over to clean it up; while I am doing this I have both my cell phone and her leash in my other hand (I was wearing a dress and had no pockets for my phone). Right as I am bent over her poop Lucy pulls on the leash which results in me losing my grip on my cell phone, with that my cell plopped into Lu’s poop pile. This is my life folks, I could not make this shit up if I tried.

On a normal day when I am not under an emotional cloud and feeling more myself, I would laugh at this. The phone can be cleaned off, it is not the end of the world, it will make a good story. Not today. Today I wanted to cry. That was not very nice Lucy.

I picked up my phone, wiped it off on the bag, and proceeded to dispose of Lucy’s poop.

After the poop debacle we went over to our bench. It was sunset, the ducks were swimming in the pond, I could already begin to feel myself relax. I started my breathing to help clear my mind and sink into my meditation. Just as I am starting to drift away into nature I feel Lucy go rigid on the leash, a dog was coming towards us with its owner. I asked Lu to sit, which she did, and thought nothing more of it, Lucy is dog friendly and usually has good manners. Not this time. I have NO IDEA what got into her but she lunged and barked and acted like a lunatic. WTF Lu, seriously?

That was it. Clearly meditation at the park was not meant to happen. Lu and I walked home and when we came back by my scream-talking neighbor’s house she came outside. I do not want to rehash the entire situation because it was exhausting enough the first time but the long-story-short is: She asked me if I was pregnant, I said No.  Then she told me that I haven’t looked happy lately and that she can tell I have gained weight.

This woman does not know me. I was literally sitting there analyzing my recent behavior as I have been getting into and out of my car in the drive way because that is the only time she sees me. Have I looked any less happy as I get into the car? It is not like I was ever skipping and singing to begin with. Not to mention the comments about my body. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!

I was so hurt, her timing could not have been worse. Really.

And as awful as all of this was, the worst part, the part that really broke my heart the most is that I did not show up for myself. She injured me so deeply, she said very personal things without right to do so – to be clear, NO ONE has a right to speak to me that way- and I not only took it, I agreed with her. I AGREED WITH HER. Yeah well I have gained a little weight and I did just start a new job, maybe I am a little stressed, maybe that is what you picking up on. THAT IS NOT MY TRUTH.

I have gained weight AND my body is no one’s business. I have been stressed AND it has had nothing to do with my new job. I have gained weight AND I have been stressed AND I am happy AND none of it is anyone else’s business.

I wish I could go back and say exactly what I needed to say to protect the part of me that she was hurting: That is a really personal question I am not comfortable answering.

I came home, let Lu off her leash and went into my closet and cried. I don’t feel like I loved myself well today and I am having a lot of judgements.

It is not too late for me to love myself. Last year I wrote one of my favorite pieces of writing I have ever done: I Love Myself Most When. It is all about celebrating the parts of myself that I love deeply and feel connected to AND it is a reminder to show love to the parts of myself I have a complicated relationship with and feel disconnected from. So now I would like to sit in that energy and love myself well.

I will show myself love when I feel out of control in my relationship with food.
I will show myself love when my clothes do not fit me the way I think they should.
I will show myself love when I am putting the feelings of others before my own.
I will show myself love when I feel abandoned.
I will show myself love when my attempts to show myself love do not go as planned.
I will show myself love when I want to give up.
I will show myself love when I feel empty.
I will show myself love when I am afraid to speak my truth.
I will show myself love when I back slide and lose conviction.
I will show myself love. I will show myself love. I love you.

Already I feel so much better. My well being does not depend on the weight I lose and gain, it does not depend on the messages I receive from the outside world, it does not depend on whether the ways in which I attempt to perform self-care are successful or not. My well being depends solely, exclusively, 100% on me. How I feel about me. When I am not loving myself well every part of me feels that. When I am loving myself well every part of me feels that.

Tonight I am grateful.

i will love myself

Advertisements

What Do You See?

Last night I was writing a post about my weekend and this great time I was having with my husband dog sitting our friend’s dog. After I was finished writing I decided not to post it. I decided not to post it because of this photo:

puppy love

It is so cute right? We filled up the kiddy pool and the three of us totally had a blast while my husband laughed and took pictures from the hammock.

I didn’t post because I had a moment of fear. A thought crossed my mind, what mean things could people say about me in this photo? My inner critic gladly seized this opportunity to answer my question:

Look at this dumb girl in her kiddy pool with a bunch of dogs. Grow up.
Nice one piece prude.
Is that her hair or a blonde football helmet?
She is fat.

Nope. Not gonna do it. No thank you. I immediately deleted the post and went to bed to read my book. I wouldn’t have given it a second thought but then tonight I watched the documentary Embrace and was moved.

I have been working on my relationship with my body for a long time. I am not ready to tell my story about that yet. What I can say though is in the last 5-7 years self-love has been my goal and I feel myself building a deeper connection within.

Clearly I still have inner critics that are waiting in the shadows to strike, the mission has not been to silence them but to shine light on their faces and show them love. Self-love includes all parts of self, shadows too.

So here is how I am going to shower myself with a little love tonight and hopefully inspire others to do the same; I am going to share some of my favorite photos of myself and discuss briefly how I used to view myself in these photos and how that view has shifted.

I will start with one of my favorites:

Lu and me in the mountains

This is my favorite photo of me and Lu. We are in the Georgia mountains during my husband and I’s favorite family vacation to date.

When I used to look at this photo the first place my eyes went were to my double chin and pudgy belly. I am a size 12 in this photo, which is towards the higher end of my spectrum which ranges from sizes 8-14.

best buds moo

This is a photo of me and my best buddy/niece Moo.

When I used to look at this photo I was critical of my overall blobbyness. I am a size 14 in this photo and around 160 pounds, my heaviest weight on record.

banana

This is Banana, one of Moo’s sisters. I love this picture because this is when she was first learning to draw and I was part of that, that was special for me.

When I used to look at this picture all I could see was my awful hair (this was during another pixie grow out attempt that I inevitably gave up on because I loathed my looks so much during the grow out process). I also zeroed in on my make up less face and had my judgements about what I look like in my truth, make up free.

Here is my last photo I will share, it is the one I feel the most vulnerable about.

honest

This is a picture I think many people have hidden in their phones, it is a photo I took to document how I look in one of my bathing suits over the course of many months while I was attempting to lose weight. I never dreamed I would share this photo, if I knew that in the future I would be posting it to my blog I probably would have never taken it. She is one of my shadows though and if I am going to show the girls in these photos love, I want to show them ALL love.

When I look at this photo I feel shame, not just because of my physical reflection or the fact that my room isn’t clean, I feel shame because of what this photo represents. This photo represents self-loathing and comparison and obsession and feeling not-good-enough. I can feel this girl’s rigidity and disappointment, the waves of shame crashing over me are overwhelming. Sharing this photo and being honest about it makes me feel completely vulnerable and not the good authentic kind of vulnerable, the naked in public kind. The please don’t look at me kind.

So now let’s line all these photos up and see what we see:

When I take away all of my criticisms what I see in these photos is joy. In the first four photos I see me wearing my favorite clothes and doing my favorite things with my favorite people. I see love and connection.

I want to go now to the first photo that inspired this post and the last one that made this post feel scary to share:

These photos share similarities; in both of these photos I am in a bathing suit with Lu. What I want to highlight is their obvious contrast though, the energy is so different. In one I am hyper focused on one thing: my appearance. Yes Lu is in the photo but this is not a photo of Lu and I, it is a photo of me ignoring the love in the room and instead punishing myself in the mirror. In the other photo, the one that I was originally afraid to share I am happy, I am playing, there is so much joy and love and connection happening. I am not thinking about my weight or how my bathing suit fits, I am just spraying the girls and having a great time.

Taking away my criticisms and looking honestly at these photos shows me that I am able to experience love, connection, and joy at any size, no matter what my hair looks like, with or without make up, and regardless of what I am wearing. My obsession with my looks and weight is part of what can lead to feelings of disconnection from my ability to love myself and accept love from others.

I recommend the documentary and I encourage you to step out of your criticisms the next time you look at a photo of yourself and pay attention to what you really see.