Updated: Feb 3, 2021
(Thank you to Ivan Nikolov for inspiring me to go deep to start the healing process.)
We all have the two opposing voices in our head – one that whispers gently that we are made of the stars and anything is possible. The other that laughs, mocking us at every turn. When we have thoughts of grandeur, it asks “Just who do you think YOU are?” Well, you can guess which one of the voices has been the strongest in my head.
HOW IT BEGAN
I was raised in a very typical household: Two parents, middle class with an older brother. Parents married for 40 years before my mother died. I suffered no major traumas. Actually I had a very pleasant childhood experience. What I did lack was any substantial guidance or expectation-setting from my parents. My brother, who is 10 years older than me to the day, was quite a handful. By the time I was an adolescent, my parents were tired and just thrilled that I was “normal”. As long as I wasn’t doing drugs or running the family car into a pole, I was golden. Not a lot of expectations set for me. Now, I’m not complaining. I had more freedoms than most kids – I grew up on a military base where, at the age of 10, we had full, unfettered access to all areas of the base – stores, bowling alleys, rec centers, you name it. We had no fear, no worries. We drank from hoses if we were thirsty, we went to someone’s house and were fed if we were hungry. We didn’t have to call ahead and make sure it was okay. It was just the way it was on a military base. Families took care of each other. Looking back, I was blessed with a beautiful childhood.
WHAT WAS LACKING
What I did lack was someone setting definitive guidelines for adulthood. I was given a very long rope, to hang from or hang myself. It’s possible that discussions were had about college or careers, but nothing that really sticks out in my mind or that would have impacted me in any meaningful way. I do remember my Mom and Dad both regaling me with their stories of struggle and independence at a young age, etc. First job at 15, walked 10 miles to elementary school by herself, don’t depend on anyone to take care of you, etc. I also watched how my mother hated her job as a legal secretary/paralegal (because she was smarter than the attorneys she worked for) and how my Dad retired from the military to only find that he lost his identity and had no sense of direction after 25 years in the Air Force. My takeaway from all of it: Don’t depend on a man to provide for you, start work early, work is hard and you’ll more than likely hate it but you’ll just have to suck it up because, after all, you need to eat and provide for your family. Not a whole lot to look forward to.
I'LL HAVE WHAT THEY'RE HAVING
While growing up, I never really had access to “successful people” so that I could try to figure out the magic sauce – “I’ll have what they’re having”. We didn’t have the internet or personal development shows, etc. We had the indulgences of the 80’s – big hair, I want my MTV, if you want it, take it. No substance. Thankfully, my parents were very practical and we didn’t fall prey to “keeping up with the Joneses”. I learned early on that tags on clothes were just tags and didn’t provide me an identity. I was the girl who blended in, who tried to get along with everyone and didn’t want to be the center of attention. BUT, there were times that I was thrust into the spotlight. What I’ve left out of my beautiful childhood story was my relationship with my body.
Normal puberty stuff. I was a normal shaped girl until around the age of 11, when my breasts began to grow and by the 5th grade, I was a B-C cup. I vividly remember being in PE, in the locker room when the girls around me said “You can’t walk around like THAT anymore? You need a bra and shave your legs. That’s GROSS!” What’s wrong with me? What’s happening to my body that makes them act so angrily towards me? I wanted to hide, to cut my breasts off. I got the bras and shaved my legs. But I couldn’t erase the weight that slowly crept onto my body as my breasts grew and my period started (talk about a traumatic experience – blood coming from places it shouldn’t. I thought I was dying! I was not at all prepared for that!) But other girls were going through it too, so I didn’t feel too bad. Not until one day when I was walking with my Mom in the mall and she turned to me and said “You embarrass me.” My Mom was my best friend. She was loving and kind and we did everything together. I can’t recall ever a time when I felt judged or that I didn’t walk on water with my mother. But to hear “You embarrass me” because I was a chubby little girl was….absolutely devastating! That was the moment that I confirmed that my body was the enemy.
Fast forward to middle school, where boys would make jokes about my breasts and sexualize me. No one wanted to be my boyfriend, which made it very confusing. They just wanted to joke and tease. It made me feel like a circus freak. During the summer between 7th and 8th grade, I lost the little bit of puberty fat and came back transformed. I felt pretty good about myself, but OMG! I was not ready for how it felt to be leered at by every boy and EVERY MAN. I felt like I was being raped on a daily basis. I could sense their thoughts, I could see it in their eyes. I was not a child anymore, I was a target.
Hence began the conflict in my mind – my body was the enemy. Weight came and went throughout my young adult years. I was promiscuous, figuring that “well, if they want it and I want to feel wanted, then I might as well just give in”. When the attention became too much, I would subconsciously gain to deflect attention and it worked. Boy, did it! The boys in high school were cruel and hateful and called me a “whale” and accused me of eating donuts for lunch every day. I was attacked in class, in front of everyone and it was mortifying. (Now, mind you I was 5’7”, 128 pounds and a size 6 in juniors). These boys must have been able to read my mind or see me the way I saw myself. It was truly awful and psychologically damaging.
WHO DO YOU CHOOSE TO LISTEN TO?
Where am I going with all of this? What about those voices in our heads? All this time, I had that little, sweet voice whispering “You are SO much more than your body. Don’t forget.” What did THAT mean? And how is that going to help me deal with all the bullshit in day to day life? That’s when the “other” voice screamed “YEAH, what good is that? You ARE your body and you just better deal with it! Sucks for you – too bad, so sad!” I felt trapped, not only in my body but in my mind as well. (Looking back, I could have easily been diagnosed BiPolar.)
NEW AGE WHAT?
This dynamic would be what drove me my entire adult life. Now, I will add another piece to the puzzle. My mother was a seeker. She read every book she could get her hands on concerning New Age or Metaphysical subjects. She had quite a library! I would pick up the paperbacks and read them and was absolutely fascinated at the idea that there could be more to life than what we see or experience. I had always been intrigued by UFO’s and the Occult and would check out any books in the library that even touched on those subjects. I had access in my early teen years to a lot of “New Thought” information and would even use Astral Travel VHS tapes to leave my body and explore. This was not in vogue in the 80’s, so imagine having these mystical experiences, learning about life after death, past lives, alien abductions and not being able to talk about it to anyone?
So here I am, living in a body that has been deemed the enemy, trapped in my head having to listen to all the in-fighting of the “angel and the devil” and now I have this deeper spiritual experience that I don’t know what to do with?
Move forward…….I’ve buried both my parents, became a nurse, retired from nursing, followed my desire to learn more about natural health/energy healing, found my voice, found my passion and built my dream. Then had to give it up to move and lost my identity. I’ve had to put my life on hold to take care of my children as they had major traumas over the last 10 years, husband had massive heart attack two years ago and nearly died in front of me. Year before that, my last living family member, my brother was diagnosed with Lung Cancer (same thing that killed our mother). Good Lord! That’s enough to make anyone want to curl up in a ball and give up. But I didn’t. I just ate!
THAT SWEET VOICE
I will say through it all, that little sweet voice has grown louder and I am more able to hear her. She has helped to keep me sane. Maybe all the trauma/drama helped to burn away the “other” voice. I don’t hear that one much anymore. And when I do, I call to “her” to step on its throat!
So where am I going with all of this? What have I discovered?
AND SO IT IS!
I made a decision after my husband had a heart attack (and saw myself in pictures at a wedding that mortified me) that I would have to make peace with my body and treat her with more respect. I went on, what I had hoped, was my last “diet” and over 6 months I lost 40 pounds. I wouldn’t say it was easy, but I was able to do it and felt successful. I finally felt good in my skin, I looked great and was proud of myself. I liked what I saw in the mirror, or so I thought.
And then the “other” voice crept back in…”those men are going to start looking at you again, seeing “YOU” again. Do you want that? They aren’t going to see YOU anymore-just your boobs, your ass. Imagine what they are thinking about you when they look at you? Do you want that?”
So you can guess what happened…gained it all back in the span of 6 months.
I was disgusted with myself. I hated myself. I started to grab at my skin and imagine having a knife in my hand to cut away the fat/skin (something I had always done before). I wanted to hide at home, since none of my new “skinny” clothes fit again. What was the point anyway? I was ashamed and felt guilty. I was embarrassed for my husband because I didn’t want to make him look bad, especially in front of his professional peers. (I wanted to look good for him; to make him proud).
I felt that familiar tug….down a dark rabbit hole. AND I SWORE THAT I WOULD NEVER GO DOWN THERE AGAIN!
That’s when I decided that something had to change. And it wasn’t to start the next new diet or workout routine. To order the next latest and greatest diet supplements. No, it was to end this feud with my body. To “bury” the hatchet. To put down our weapons and shake on a truce. To come to the table and write up a new contract, where I commit to recognize my responsibility of providing nutrients and movement and most importantly LOVE. And in return, she would provide a vessel that would carry me through all the rest of my days. We both recognize that we are in this together and neither one of us are getting out of this “alive”! Our bond will end when this life ends.
THE FIGHT IS OVER
I have stopped weighing myself. Some people determine their worth by how much money they have in the bank, how successful they are, how many followers they have on social media. ME? The number on the scale determined my worth. No more! When I go to doctor’s appointments, I tell them that they can get me on the scale, but don’t tell me what it says. Feel free to write it down but I will not be identified by what it’s says. It’s psychologically damaging to me. Honor it. And they do. Some may argue that I am in denial and it’s an unhealthy avoidance. What’s more unhealthy, I ask? I’m certainly not in denial about the size I wear (12-14) or what foods make me feel bad, cause me to gain or bloat. I am just refusing to participate in the addiction of the scale.
THE JOURNEY CONTINUES
Have I figured it all out? Hell NO! But what I do know is that this journey has been a journey of self-discovery. Maybe this life and purpose has been to find my way to self-acceptance. Am I there yet? Not exactly. But every journey is a lot of little steps. As Martin Luther King, Jr. so eloquently put it, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.”