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"Mirrors are perpetually deceitful..."

 Thursday, January 29, 2015

“Mirrors are perpetually deceitful. They lie and steal your true self. They reveal only what your mind believes it sees” 

Lately, I’ve been thinking about my obsession with my body.  To be clear, I am ALWAYS thinking about my body, but lately I’ve been thinking about that thinking. Oh, how I exhaust myself....
However, this thinking was different.  My usual negative thought patterns were abruptly interrupted with a new thought. What if I’m actually perfect?
What?!  What if all those things I’ve told myself all these years were untrue?  Well, that stopped me in my proverbial tracks.
I dove in.  What did this thought mean?  “What if I’m perfect?” Now before you jump on ship and say "No one is perfect"...keep reading and allow me to explain. As soon as I allowed the thought to settle into my being and sink in for a bit.... I felt an immediate sense of relief followed by a sadness at a lifetime of energy spent on believing the opposite.  I felt like I owed myself a deep apology.
I wanted to explore this so I sat down to start a list of all the “perfect” things about my body.  I sat there.  And I sat there.  I stared at the blank page tapping my pen. I got up, walked to the mirror in my bathroom and stripped down...and looked.  I still couldn’t seem to write anything.  In fact, all my insecurities started screaming and reared its ugly head. In the past 8 years, my body has been through some pretty extreme changes. I lost the weight but the insecurities remained.... I could feel my mind chasing the original thought, trying to hold onto it before it slipped away and was replaced by this same tired refrain.
Most of us could list the positive traits of others with relative ease, but when asked to list positive qualities about our own bodies we might embarrassingly list a couple of things (maybe things we’ve been told by others) and then quit the game.  What a shame. Think about it....
We have learned that we are good or bad, likable or not, worthy or unworthy based on our appearance since we were in diapers. We entered into a game where we (or at least many of us) constantly compared the “worst” in ourselves to the “best” in others.  A perpetual cycle of coming up short, reinforcing the lesson. 
The fact that I couldn’t even start a list suddenly felt like total crap (for a lack of a better word).  I put down the first list and began another.  I started by listing all the things I have experienced through my body.  The list was long and glorious and included:
I have danced with abandon and felt the music flowing through my veins and beads of sweat poured down my body. 
I have washed my hair and sat in warm appreciation under the sun as it dried and blew in the wind. I have felt the sun heat up my face as I smile up into it. 
I have kissed and been kissed....I have fallen in love. 
I have felt the dull ache of sore muscles the next day after a 18 mile run and the satisfaction that brings.
I have given birth naturally two times, and breastfed Bailey for an entire year.  An entire year! I can't even begin to tell you how tough that was....
I have touched my children’s heads, transmitting love through my fingers as I caressed their hair...and rocked them to sleep in my arms. 
I have walked barefoot in mud and sand and stone...
I have seen some of the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets....
I have ran mile after mile and even though in my mind I wanted to quit a million times....this body told me to keep going...
I have also experienced pain though my body. And as I began to list some of those experiences, including things I didn’t wish to remember, I realized that I was listing them with a sense of deep gratitude.  I had moved through the beauty to the pain in a state of reverence for what my body was offering me.  An opportunity to learn.  This thought was transformative.  Suddenly the body that I have both loved and despised my entire life was a tool.  And it all began to come together.
My body shows me what I need to know.  Physical pain is often a lesson in listening to intuition.  My body saying, trust me, I know what you need.  The beautiful experiences are teaching the same.  You’ve got this.
Suddenly I felt less shame about the cellulite on the back of my thighs....the stretch marks on my stomach and sides....I wasn’t weak or flawed.  I felt much less like comparing my butt in a pair jeans to her butt in a pair of jeans.   I wouldn’t trade the experiences of this body, so why would I envy the other body at all?  This body created this life I’m living.  And I love my life.  To not the love the body that delivers it to me every day began to feel like a crime that I was no longer willing to commit....
My body is perfect because it is doing exactly what it is meant to do.  It is showing me the way.... My job is merely to listen.  I’m perfect because I am a map of my own journey.  Where I have been and what I have created is written all over my physical being.  Every curve, every wrinkle, every pound, all of me.  My own divine instrument.
 From here I can find a place of quiet grace...and appreciation. 


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