Friday, November 9, 2007

Day 2.6 The (un)Holy Grail


In order to know what works well on your body you have to be comfortable with it. That's the grail. --Minnie Driver (actress)

Many years ago, I hated my body. I really did. I don't remember whether I was fat or skinny (I think I was skinny, though, because I remember holding up a top from that period of time and being shocked at how tiny it was) but I know I believed I was "fat." That was just shorthand, though, for "I hate my body."

But why did I feel that way? Was I too immersed in images of Linda Evangelista and the other super-models of the time? Or was it something else?

For me, it was something else, mixed up with the media messages.

I received counseling for that which caused the intense self-loathing and I'm happy to say the scars have long healed. But if you aren't comfortable with your body you have to find out why and how deep it goes. And if it goes deep, I strongly recommend a professional. Let's just say I know whereof I speak.

Part of what turned my thinking around was my first pregnancy. I saw my body in a totally different (and non-media) light. It was strong. It was capable of life. It was capable of a miracle. Even though I reached 200lbs, I wasn't fazed. It was amazing.

I took those insights and ate and exercised so that my body reflected my positive thoughts about it. I made it strong and lithe. I got a wardrobe which reflected my joy. And another miracle was performed.

That was a long time ago.

I am not currently comfortable with my body (which is a long way from hating it). It is not strong. My feet give me problems which need diagnoses and treatment. My neck and middle back are unreliable and need constant chiropractic care. It's been this way for about seven years and I haven't done a thing about it. Why?

Part of it is I dislike doctors and the whole medical profession. Part of it is because I just naturally procrastinate. And part of it is because I find it really, really difficult to make the time and take energy for myself--and away from my family--in any overt way, like leaving the house for a walk. (The time I spend blogging seems to belie that, but it's covert. They are still in the next room.)

When the kids were younger, I whined, but it was fine. I totally sympathise and will hastily agree with any woman with children under five that there truly isn't time for oneself. To tell her she "has to" (and "it's good for the children") when shutting the bathroom door is a luxury, is just cruel. Sometimes, there just isn't time to take and that's life. But my kids are older now. I can "take time for myself." And if I don't, then I really have to wonder, again, why?

Is it because I'm so uncomfortable with my body I don't want to face it? see it? deal with it?

--or is it just the cumulative effect of denial resulting in stasis and inertia?

Smallcitybeth wrote a wonderful post addressing the question why she doesn't dress to reflect her joy. And Wende (as usual) had an insightful reply:

Scb wrote: So why am I still dressing as if the depression still has me in its thrall?

Wende replied: My guess: you had plenty of time to learn depressed dressing habits before getting treatment, and you've never consciously unmade them because there were plenty of
other things to do. And it's possible to be in a world where there's some subtle social pressure not to take trouble with your appearance because that's a sign of worldly vanity.

Have I just gone unconscious? And stayed that way because to take the trouble is "worldly vanity?"

Could it be that simple? Could I just need a wake-up call like Wardrobe Therapy to realise I do care and I want to live like I do? And that's all?

So, let's not say, "make time for myself." Let's say, instead:

"make time to build my body strong"
"make time to treat my body with respect"
"make time to eat properly so I have energy (and not anger) to meet the needs of those I love."
and

"make time to build an image I would be proud to have my daughter emulate."

Maybe I can do those things.

(Starting with a shower. Right now.)
(Oh dear. When I came out all fresh and clean, the kids were fighting--physically fighting one another. I have to figure this out or live with the possibility one of them may be dead when I emerge. It's not going to be easy.)

5 comments :

lorijo said...

Can I thank you for saying the line about understanding if people with kids under 5 just don't have the time? I have a 3 1/2 yr old. I am trying to potty train. I can't leave him unsupervised for a minute. At 18 mos. he figured out how to open the front door. It's gone downhill from there. I have this place looking like Ft Knox and I know he can still somehow figure out a way to disfigure himself. I love him, and that is the only way I can bear the fact that my life is no longer mine, at least for the time being. As for closing the bathroom door- I haven't been able to do that for well, 3 1/2 years.
I have kind of brought him into this wardrobe therapy- it's a big dress up game for him and he likes the constant picture taking. Hope that lasts.

smallcitybeth said...

"make time to build my body strong"
"make time to treat my body with respect"
"make time to eat properly so I have energy (and not anger) to meet the needs of those I love."
and

"make time to build an image I would be proud to have my daughter emulate."

Those are excellent, Alana. Just excellent. (As is this post). It's good to be specific instead of saying "make time for myself" -- that probably sounds to your inmost heart like sitting around eating candy while your family fends for itself. That's not the case at all, as you have so ably illustrated in your four "make time" choices. (Now we just need to work on the peace-between-the-children part... that's tricky.)

For the see-through tops, can you wear a tank or a solid color camisole underneath (not the underwear kind, more like a sleeveless blouse of the same color as the top)? They're not expensive, and would give you access to those pretty blouses.

Your stalwart staples are good. A wide range of styles is great!

There are a few (very few) bras that are made with special no-slip straps. But they're probably too expensive for the likes of you and me. (Most bras are outrageously expensive, that's why I was so happy to find that buy one, get one free sale at Sears last weekend.) My bra straps seem to have created bra-strap-hollows on my shoulders. This is probably not a good thing -- I don't think the strap is supposed to be doing all the work of supporting all that weight.

I'll be posting later this evening -- right now, my computer is about to launch itself into its regular Friday night virus hunt. (It does this to amuse itself on Friday evenings.)

smallcitybeth said...

I lost track of what post I was commenting on -- some of the comment above obviously belongs with the Piles post. I'll comment more after my computer is finished doing its thing...

Lynn said...

"Make time to build an image I would be proud to have my daughter emulate"- what an inspiring way to think about this. Thanks.

drwende said...

Could it be that simple? Could I just need a wake-up call like Wardrobe Therapy to realise I do care and I want to live like I do? And that's all?

You're right, of course, further up, that if there's a deep underlying problem, a wake-up call is just the beginning, not the whole journey -- but you're sounding much more awake and positive.

So, let's not say, "make time for myself." Let's say, instead:

"make time to build my body strong"
"make time to treat my body with respect"
"make time to eat properly so I have energy (and not anger) to meet the needs of those I love."
and

"make time to build an image I would be proud to have my daughter emulate."


THAT is downright brilliant. It's one of those jaw-dropping flashes of insight. "Make time for myself" always sounds vaguely selfish and is so amorphous -- making time to equip yourself to do things you find important puts the proper value on the time and effort.

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