Saturday, September 29, 2007

I love my body

Body image has been something I've struggled with for years...probably close to 15 years now...but really struggled with it since a doctor's visit when my sister and I were both present about 12 years ago. In the course of about 10 minutes he asked if we were feeding my sister (since she was a long and lean size 3) and then told me I was fat (a huskier size 16). From there I started exercising, not much diet involved, and lost about 30 pounds in the course of a year, plus grew another 2 inches or so in height. Despite my transformed figure, I was overly self-conscious (or maybe just typically self-conscious for a teenager) all throughout high school. There were other body issues that arose for me too, one being that when I got super nervous (read: dates, academic competitions, major stress situations), I'd throw up. I hated that. I hated that my body wasn't *normal*.

Then during my last year of seminary, coupled with counseling to keep me sane through CPE, being stalked, and life, I had a realization about my body and the throwing up issues...I realized by body wasn't defunct, it was actually trying to warn me when I was in *dangerous* situations. The nausea and vomiting were my body's warning signal to get the heck out of dodge. I was able to reflect and realize that when I heeded my body's nausea and got out, I didn't generally vomit, but when I didn't, I other words the vomiting was my body's way of saying...if you're not gonna get yourself outta here, I'm gonna force the issue. As a part of that realization, I created a ritual to honor my body....well, that's poorly stated, I didn't create the ritual in a pre-planned fashion, rather, it just emerged out of a sabbath ritual one day. In honoring my sabbath, I took a bath, did a nude painting of myself, and then basically blessed each part of my body saying, "My _______ (e.g., foot, leg, breast, head....etc) is beautiful, my ________ is precious, my __________ is holy." It sounds a bit corny and strange, but it was beautiful and I didn't allow myself to critique my body parts in that time. If a critique emerged in my mind, "well, it would be if it weren't so fat...." I pushed that thought aside and said, "not today, maybe tomorrow, but today my ________ is beautiful, precious, and holy." Later that year, I made that body blessing my Lenten discipline, I really needed to honor my body and see it as a gift from God.

As someone prone to self-deprecation, that wasn't always easy for me. (all of that was a rather loooooong introduction to the actual heart of today's piece). Today it struck me, I love my body. I love being in my body. I love using my body to walk, write, move, stretch, cook, whatever. I love my body. I feel at one with it. Not constantly critiquing from an outside perspective, but simply loving my body. It's far from perfect, a "work in progress" for sure, but currently none of that seems to matter. I'm just enjoying that I have a fully functional body with which I can live, move, and have my being. And it's great!