My Body Is Disgusting!
When I was younger, I loved my body and all around one. All of that shifted when I was a teenager. My body changed and I no longer felt comfortable with those changes. I began to hate my body. I was never thin enough or pretty enough to be popular, I felt. I also had added family pressure to look or act a certain way. For example, my aunt was once appalled that I would go to Walmart without makeup. Another issue I had growing up, that added to my shame, was being physically, emotionally, and sexually abused. It was the right concoction to solidify disgust for my body. One of the things that I deeply regret is that I smiled and kept that disgust deeply hidden from everyone. I knew that I was the only person feeling this way, or so I thought. Looking back, I was very sick emotionally. I was 5 foot 10 and weighed 98 pounds at 18 years of age. To me it was normal and everyone else was fat.
I was so excited to get married and to grow close to someone who loved me. Surprisingly, the feeling that I was ok and my body was beautiful only lasted a short time. Those voices in the back of my head came back with a vengeance to drown out any good feelings I had about my body.
Fast forward to the time of my first pregnancy. I was so excited to be pregnant. It was a great dream for me because I always wanted to be a mom. Problem was that nobody had prepared me or talked about the changes my body would go through. Tons of people commented on my pregnant belly or reached out and touched me like I was a public object. It was a serous violation of my personal space and it sent me into a spiral. I tried to hide my pregnancy so I would not have to deal with the comments and touch. I felt conflicted because I felt such joy and also such shame. It was bitter sweet.
Finally the day of the birth of my son came and somehow I felt that it would magically get better. It did not, but got worse. Now my body was changing again in a way that caused me to wonder if I would ever get back to my "normal" self. My postpartum body was not beautiful. It had fluid coming from many places and a baby that cried alot, along with all the self doubts first time parents have. I was a mess!
Somehow I learned how to trudge through it all and find a new normal. I still felt a hatred of my body, but tried to not quit. I still felt that it was my secret to carry as I was the only one suffering like this.
Years went by and I struggled through many more pregnancies and postpartum times. I learned to not have a scale in my house and to stand backwards when my midwife was checking my weight. I knew that emotionally I could not handle any more numbers chasing me in my dreams. I was so grateful for a husband who stuck with me during that time with a kind support and for care providers who tolerated my "craziness".
You might wonder if I feel that same now. I can honestly say that I don't. I bet you are curious about what changed me. I went to a group called Adult Children of Alcoholics. Going through that program helped me to find the Savior in my life. He helped me to see so much. I remember the first time I got out of the shower and looked in the mirror naked. Usually I turned in disgust, but that day for a moment I saw my real self for a few seconds instead of the girl with the ugly concentration camp body. It was only a second, but was enough to give me hope to continue working the program.
Last month I brought up the topic of bodies to a good friend. She had me watch a documentary called EMBRACE. That was incredible! I never realized that other women struggle as I do. Not only do some women, but most women struggle with body disgust. I am not alone! That is break through news to me and so comforting at the same time.
I am now on a scriptural pursuit of body image and looking for good support in other ways. I want to shift my perception that my body is not an ornament, but an instrument to help me find joy in this life. It is a gift from God and I should treat it as such.
Ever heard of Beauty Redefined? I just discovered them and they will be the next part of my journey as I try to shake the ugly voices in my head. This is where my battle is. I swallowed the fact that I should look at my body more positively (which is good). Next, the world and the poisonous messaging from social media said that I should wear what I want and do what I want with my body to be truly free. I don't believe that! I want to treat this gift in a special way to find joy. What is the best food I can put in this body to help me find joy? What is the best sleep and exercise I can do with my body to find joy? What is the best thing to do mentally with my body to find joy in this life? Such easy questions, but finding the answers will be hard because it goes against society today.
I want to be a beautiful person inside and out. I want to feel beautiful inside and out. I don't think society will truly help me with that given all the shame and guilt everywhere from ads to what people say to each other. Feeling the heavy weight of body disgust stops me and causes me to want to hide from everyone. The truth is that I know that if my Lord could see me now, I would only feel love and acceptance. The hate and disgust is coming from somewhere else. God formed me and he loves me. My journey is to find that love and let it fill me til I shine and my joy is felt by those around me.
My hope is to find love and joy at the end of the journey!