I don’t ever remember loving my body. As a matter of fact, I downright hated it. Even at an early age, I despised the body I was born with. I wanted a new one! Sickly and non-athletic, I loathed the vehicle I had apparently chosen to reside in this world.
One beautiful, sunny summer afternoon, my mom and I were laying on floaties in our pool. She grabbed one of my thighs with both her hands and said, “Look how fat that is. Just like a big ham from a pig.” Quickly, my demeanor switched from enjoying a lovely afternoon to horror. As a 14-year old, I was 5’6” and weighed under 124 lbs. Although not heavy by any standards, this one comment catapulted me into extreme dieting at an early age. No breakfast, soup for lunch, few bites for dinner. I would say I didn’t feel good so I didn’t have to eat. Heaven forbid I get any fatter than I thought I already was. My body seemed to be betraying me too. Even with as little as I ate, I didn’t lose much weight, if any. I also knew (because the popular junior high girls said so) that unless your jeans size is in the single digits you’re too fat and you can’t be a part of their group.
Much didn’t change either in high school. I had a beautiful dresser with a full-length mirror covered with cardboard so I didn’t have to look at my body. On prom night I remember well having to tear a piece of the cardboard down to check if my dress was on straight.
Fast-forward twenty years: Married with two teenage boys. I was working full-time, volunteering myself to death and still hating my body. I was only in my late 30’s watching my hair fall out in clumps. Other symptoms such as fatigue, anxiety, weight gain, puffy face, sweating, difficulty sleeping, irritability, muscle weakness, depression, dry skin, and forgetfulness were all beginning to worsen as well. I didn’t even recognize myself in the mirror. Suffering from endometritis, I ended up with a complete hysterectomy at 39. My body was falling apart along with my marriage as I sunk into a deeper depression.
I hated my body even more and felt like it was betraying me—again. Life seemed unfair and my body was screaming at me. And, I, in my infinite wisdom, continued to completely ignore it.
Have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror and wondered who that sad, unhealthy person was looking back? How you got there? Wondered why your body isn’t cooperating with your demands?
While sitting in a doctors office waiting room one afternoon, a book jumped out at me. In the description it said something to the effect to journal what your depression is trying to tell you. Basically, if your depression could talk, what would it say to you?
That was a huge light bulb moment for me. Could my body really be trying to speak to me with my depression? Could I be depressed for a reason? If that’s the case, every one of my symptoms are in my body for a reason. What are they wanting to tell me?
Soon-after, I continued to lose all energy. I was bed-ridden on many days. Often, I would sit on the couch while staring out the window. With no energy reserves, I was forced to get quiet. I spent many of my days on the couch staring out the window. Stillness was my job each day. And, although my body didn’t want to move, I sensed it was ready to talk. I began to journal.
With each passing day, I dug deeper and deeper into my body, it’s aliments, stuck emotions, and more. I was having a conversation with my body for the first time ever in my life that didn’t include constant ridicule.
I made a decision while on that couch. I promised myself I was going to feel again. No more numbing myself — with over-working, over-volunteering, food, tv, computer, etc. I was going to feel again and get to know my body. This extraordinary human case I’d been blessed with.
I would write about whatever I was feeling in the moment. Feelings would come up that I didn’t even know existed. Ones I had stuffed down long ago to never return, or so I thought. I realized my body had been storing emotions all along until I was ready to process them. To feel them. To embrace them. To love them and finally— to release them. It took my body screaming at me in illness and disease to get my attention.
In addition to writing, I would put my hand on different areas of my body. I would send it love, pray over it and ask it what it needed. Often, intuitively I would even get an answer back. “Rest.” “More water.” “I just needed you to notice me.” One day I even heard, “Why do you hate me?”
I broke down in tears.
No wonder my body was falling apart. It was attempting to get my attention. Much like a child who doesn’t feel loved or wanted, he/she acts out. Screaming for attention, love and affection. Desiring to be acknowledged, seen and heard. Our bodies are no different. They are an extension of us. My body had to get sick because nothing else it was doing could get my attention for the love it was starved for. I treated it like an enemy instead of the friend it wanted to be.
At the same time, I devoured Marianne Williamson’s A Course in Weight Loss: 21 Spiritual Lessons for Surrendering Your Weight Forever. This book was an integral catalyst for helping me to further heal the disconnection between food, my body and my soul.
Marianne says, “Your true self is programmed perfectly by nature to think
and behave in ways that are healthy and strong. Your job now is not only to disconnect from the matrix of addiction or compulsion, but also to reconnect with the matrix of perfection in which you were created and in which your spirit remains. This matrix of perfection is the real you. The real you is already perfect, in every aspect and in every way. You are not the problem, because you are divinely perfect. ”
As I began to embrace the stillness, my body as an ally, and Marianne’s book/exercises, issues that had plagued me for decades faded away! I was finally able to connect to the wisdom of my body and love in my heart.
Daily, there are many ways now that I continue to show my body how much I love and honor it. Getting still and journaling led me to feeling at a deeper level, releasing emotions, and honoring my body like never before. Before long, I hired a nutritionist, soaked up walks in nature, yoga classes, Epson-salt baths, infrared saunas, massages, dancing, and more! As I’m reminded of that delicate time in my life not too long ago, I am in awe of the journey back to loving my body. It didn’t happen overnight. It was more of a daily choice on my part over a couple of years. Each day built on the one before and soon I was appreciating my beautiful body as the intricate masterpiece that it was—regardless of it’s size or symptoms. Then, one day, I looked in the mirror not recognizing the smiling person back.
CLARITY. CONFIDENCE. CONNECTION.
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