I haven't been feeling all that positive about my body lately. The humid, sticky summer has descended, and I've been feeling overwhelmed by the month of December. Excited about Christmas, Ecstatic about the end of the school year, but seriously drowning in paperwork, social engagements, tired children, and my diet and exercise have reflected it. Lots of poor choices, hurried meals, late meals after the children go to bed, sneaky treats in a vain attempt to soothe my jingle-jangled nerves.
The weather has meant that my clothing is just uncomfortable, full stop. I want to spend the next three months in the paddling pool, in my swimmers. Since I can't do that, I have to figure out a different way to cope. I have to stop loathing my body, and start loving it. Loving it by feeding it food that will nourish and sustain it. Loving it by giving it exercise. (This doesn't feel very loving at present. It feels rather like punishment, and I'm walking VERY slowly!)
In short, I have to stop confusing self-abuse with kindness.
Yesterday, I was in the bathroom -I'd popped in to put something away, and I looked in the mirror, which I rarely do. I'm not able to look in the mirror and think kind thoughts about what I see, so I avoid doing it. But this time, I forced myself to make eye contact with my reflection, and to speak kindly to her. Imagining that she was a dear friend, I said all the things I would easily say to someone else, but find so impossible to say to myself. It felt a bit mad, and I debated writing about this (generally, confessing that you talk to yourself in the third person is frowned upon), but I want this space to be real, and it doesn't get much more real than admitting I talk to myself!
I said to her that she will not change a thing until she can see what others have seen; she is beautiful, she is made in God's own image. That in the history of all creation, there has never been another like her. That she is loved beyond measure. It felt weird to look myself in the eye. I can't seem to reconcile the image in the mirror with the image in my mind. And I don't like that I am so critical of someone's appearance. My own, that is. Maybe it's that I can't see the beauty inside, and it colours how I see the outside.
Whatever the cause, I am choosing to speak kindly to the woman in the mirror, choosing to love her right where she is, choosing to nurture her and be her friend. Because she looks as though she needs a friend like me.