During an upcoming training that I'll be co-facilitating I need to be prepared with a "statement" about my body's beauty to share with the attendees (they will be asked to do the same).
As many of you know, since Andrea's death I have worked hard at seeing and appreciating my innate beauty, especially my body's beauty. After thirteen years, I can tell you that this is an on-going process (at least for me). In the beginning, I could not muster "love" for my body. I had spent so many years believing the cultural messages and pursuing the "ideal" of thinness that the thought of loving something I had abused and hated for so long seemed impossible.
Cultivating love was just too big a leap ... so instead, I worked on respect. I took time to notice all that my body could do for me (it breathes regularly, my heart beats, my eyes blink, my mouth chews, my sweat glands function, and on and on--all without conscious thought or effort from me). I could respect the miraculous functioning of my body without truly loving it.
After six years or so of continual respect it felt that I had, without really noticing, slipped into loving my body. Recent weeks have made me question the truth of this statement, however. I've been criticizing it again (internally--no outward comments) and have been curious to discover what this is about. The answer came a few days ago while taking a shower.
Soap got in my eyes and no amount of rinsing seemed to allow me to comfortably keep my eyes open, so I had to finish bathing with my eyes closed. Somehow this fact pulled me into proceeding with complete awareness (probably due to my heightened consciousness for the potential of falling). As I washed my face, the thought, "Wow, you can't feel wrinkles" popped into my head. As I scrubbed my torso, legs and arms, I felt only their smooth strength...no lumps or bumps or rolls were evident. Suddenly I knew what had been going on: my return to personal insults was about the swiftly multiplying visual signs of aging! I was shocked and then ... relieved.
Nothing major going on...just my need to accept that my body is moving through its life-process of getting older. I can continue to take care of it by nourishing it well, moving it daily and ... yes ... loving it, "for as long as we both shall live."
[Originally posted on the Gürze Books Eating Disorders Blogs]