Sunday, February 3, 2013

Body-Shame ... Body-Love

Ahhhh, the human body.

Such a miraculous and formidable ... and yet, vulnerable ... creation.

They come in all variations ... shapes ... sizes ... colors ... each one a glorious work of art.

They are "us" ... and yet "not us" - at least not-us in totality ... for we begin to recognize that we are a soul who inhabits, or even "wears" a body.  And yet, for this span of our existence, while on planet Earth, they are indeed part-of-us ... assigned-to-us (I happen to think we chose them, for our own purposes, to learn our chosen lessons, but I digress ... and can neither prove nor dis-prove this hunch).

Our bodies enable us to enJOY this material realm.  They let us experience growth, comfort, food, movement, touch, dance, exertion, power, connection, pain, pleasure, temperature, sensations, agony and ecstasy ... we can face the horrors of war, or the bliss of making love, in these amazing bodies.  They can achieve inordinate feats of strength & agility, or succumb to the ravages of disease and aging.  They can heal ... they can express love.  They are our companions, for the journey.

 (Note:  while I recognize that I am primarily a spiritual being who is having a human experience, I LOVE everything about being human ... the emotions, the experiences, the body I inhabit ... during this life, the body is NOT less-than the soul, or the spirit, or the mind ... it is a precious vehicle through which to experience this material realm - and matter matters!)

We are judged by our bodies, we judge others by their bodies, and we judge our own bodies.  Often, to our own detriment.

I've had an ongoing love-hate relationship with my own body, including a 21-year history of a severe eating disorder in my own past ... I've been overweight ... I've been underweight ... I've been my "normal" weight ... I'm getting older (I've currently been in this particular earth-suit for 51 years) ... I've given birth to 8 human beings, and I've sustained 3 miscarriages ... I'm a female in a culture where my worth and validity is measured by my attractiveness ... and I can attest that body-face-shame is just *there* no matter where the weight registers on the scale ... learning to accept and love ourselves, beyond the earth-suit, is a formidable task ... I am not giving up.

I experienced intense body-shame, just over a year ago, when, due to some intense and sustained grief, I had neglected my body ... I hadn't looked in any mirrors below my shoulders for weeks ... and I had lost my appetite ... I wasn't eating enough ... was not taking care of me.  One day, because some pants didn't fit right (they wouldn't stay up!), I got on the scale, out of curiosity, to discover that my weight was dangerously low ... and I was shocked - horrified!  Honestly scared.

A friend launched into some practical advice: "start beefing up those calories, start supplementing with Ensure ... get that weight back ON!" And as I heard those words, I felt "body-emotions" ... I tuned in, and I allowed myself feel my body's fear ... it felt "ashamed" ... it felt "bad/punished" ... even though it had been doing the best it could to serve me ... and I said, "No, I'm going to *love* my body back to it's setpoint. I'm going to trust it to find its way, by loving it. I'm going to *accept* it as it IS, here and now, and TRUST it to do what it knows to do. I will listen to it, and honor it, and eat what it calls for when it's hungry, and stop when it's had enough."

I got in the shower, and used the warmth of the water to soothe it ... I washed it gently, like I would do with a baby ... I cried tears of empathy for how my body had tried SO hard to serve me, even while I was unintentionally neglecting it ... I asked its forgiveness for not caring better for it. I dried it tenderly, and I slathered on lotion, dressed it in comforting warm clothing, fed it a nourishing meal, and rocked myself, tears streaming down my face almost meditatively, sending my body love.

Within a short period of time, with the power of love and trust, the weight did increase and stabilize ... if I had crashed it on (and if anyone crashes it off), the message is, "you are bad, I do not accept/love you, and I am going to beat you into submission."  The same would apply to a body that is overweight, or has sustained an injury, or surgery, or any sort of challenge ... our bodies need to be appreciated, accepted, treasured ... LOVED.

What child, animal, or adult human responds positively to punishment or abuse...? Something about loving what IS (a person, our bodies, a situation) allows us to have the space and freedom to see our options, and for balance to occur.

(I think I needed to type this out, to remind myself, today.)

I recorded this video a couple of months ago ... this poem about beauty came pouring out of me one evening ... in about 20 minutes of a "download".  I shared it before ... but it fits here, too.

(LOL ... it only *appears* that it's a video about yodeling lessons ...!  Choosing to let go of the "shame" of my goofy expression in the image!  :P )

1 comment:

Deb said...

Loved this a LOT, Dena....can so relate. Love you too! :-)