Feeling the raw…
A few moments ago, I posted the following on Facebook in response to a Kickstarter pitched posted by a friend of mine:
“I’ve struggled with loving my physical body for many years and it’s such a nuanced experience. On the one hand, without it, I wouldn’t exist. On the other, it experiences so much emotional pain. The way I treat it is directly linked to my emotional state. So, for me, the goal is not to accept my physical flaws, but rather to nurture my spirit so I don’t take it out on my body. I’m in favor of anything that will help people feel happier with the body they’re in but I feel these movements and platitudes often miss the real point. It’s so complicated.”
The Kickstarter was raising money for a documentary film aimed at helping women embrace their bodies and not be so critical. Of course, I applaud these efforts and am pro anything that results in a net increase of happiness, but, as stated in my post, I personally find these efforts a bit hollow. I am grateful to be part of a community that embraces bodies of all types (although there is skewed favor towards those deemed ‘beautiful’ by societal standards) and yet I find it very difficult to make peace with my body. Through lots of thought over the years, I’ve come to realize that it’s not my physical body that I struggle with, it’s the feeling that I’m not worth love and understanding and connection and happiness because of who I AM.
Logically, this makes no sense. Any of it. But the struggle is not rooted in the physical realm. It’s rooted in emotion. How dare I think I’m not worthy of any of the good human experiences simply because of who I am? And yet, sometimes, I do. And then I fulfill my own prophecies by crying in the privacy of my own bathroom over a social interaction gone awry and thinking ‘Well, I’m just not worth it. Better get used to it.” IT’S RIDICULOUS.
Until we find the magic bullet to rebuild neural nets and remove the physical root cause of depression and its merry band of travelers, there has to be a better way to nurture our spirits. Which is what I gingerly focus on. I find that when my spirit is happy, I’m more likely to love my physical body from the inside out. It’s not that I have any less cellulite, I just don’t care about it (as much). But if I exercise with the sole intention of getting fit, that’s when the issues come in. I go way off the deep end with calorie counting, discipline, and self-loathing when I can’t meet my own unrealistic expectations. It’s almost as if I have to do the spiritual work (like yoga!) without any pressure to physically change. Otherwise, it’s all over. This is the reason I had to stop Crossfit. Way too much pressure on myself and I was going a little insane.
One major boost in the spiritual happiness quotient is the addition of a puppy into our little family! You can’t be sad or feel purposeless or unloved when you see this face:
Pure love and adoration! (Plus, she’s the ultimate side-kick in public because everyone wants to snuggle a puppy.) Working with her has had amazing unintentional side effects. When we’re practicing walks and totally in sync, it’s this indescribable feeling! Or when she crawls in your lap and kisses your face…gah, NO WORDS!
Another thing I’ve started practicing is meditation and chakra chanting. I meditate with mantras and breathing because I’m not able to do anything more at this point but it certainly helps. But even then, sometimes I’ll stop myself from doing the exercises because I have these terrible little words inside saying ‘You don’t deserve the happiness so you might as well just not meditate.’ I’m at a 40% success rate in conquering those feelings in the moment. Improving every day.
This was a winding post so I’ll summarize: In my eyes, your self-loathing emotions are not YOU. They’re a programming error. Having the ‘perfect’ body won’t make your life amazing. (see Candice Russel’s post on that topic) And ‘Love your body’ platitudes are insulting in their simplistic view of the issue.
I wish I had answers. I don’t but I have a lot of experience in seeing what works. I guess all I can say is: your physical body is the vessel through which you experience life both physically and emotionally. Until we can upload our minds to computers and experience life via avatars (a la Nexus by Ramez Naam), this is all we’ve got. Your body wants to be around for a while. It will give you 2nd, 3rd, and 27th chances (usually). Be kind to your body and spirit if for no other reason than to see what’s going to happen tomorrow. And contact me if you need a cheerleader.