From that moment on, my relationship with my body changed away from appreciating what it could do and how amazing it was just as it was, to a place where I played out my desire to be loved, accepted, appreciated, and feel a sense of control in my life during my teenage years that felt uncontrollable with all that was shifting and changing with my body and exploring how to make peace with a family that was broken apart by divorce. These experiences have supported me so much now in how I can show up for my clients as I deeply empathize and understand how complicated and heavy our relationships with our bodies can be. Healing that relationship with our body I completely understand can be a moment to moment, day by day, year by year adventure.
It wasn't until my eating patterns began to cause digestive troubles for me that I began to notice and observe my body differently. I slowly fostered a relationship with this unique system I live in where I could deeply listen to what supported it in feeling calm and relaxed and what did not. While I learned to listen closely to my gut brain in what foods supported me in feeling vibrant, the inner thoughts around my body image continued to be rampant around never feeling quite good enough to love myself as I was. When I met my Fiance, it was the first time I was in a relationship with an individual who saw my beauty beyond my physical form. As you can imagine, this was quite triggering as I had been listening to the voices in my head for years around how could anyone find me lovable just as I was.
Through the 6 years of our relationship, I had to come face to face again and again with that there was a different way I could think and feel about myself and for awhile I found a certain equilibrium with feeling alright about the way I looked. Then on that day he proposed, something shifted in my brain. I had never been one to imagine what my wedding would look like. I often told most individuals in my life I never imagined myself getting married. When we go through stressful experiences, often our brain can automatically go back to patterns it knows and feels familiar to feel safe and protected. Our body and mind do not know the difference between being chased by a tiger and worrying about how we are going to look in a wedding dress.
For the past year, it has been a roller coaster ride in delving deeper into not just feeling alright with how I look but truly, deeply, madly loving me just the way I am. This year has probably been some of the hardest inner work I have ever engaged in and some days were easier than others. Some things that supported me (and if you are planning a wedding might potentially support you):
1. Stop looking at magazine wedding photos. These are most likely photoshopped and did not give me the opportunity to tune in to embracing my body just the way it is. When we compare, we despair. Comparison automatically takes us out of our body and its preciousness and decreases the likelihood of connecting with what makes us beautiful just as we are. Every single person on this planet is beautiful and amazing and powerful in their own unique way. This is something I am still working and striving to connect to every day of my life, even after this whole adventure of getting married is over.
2. Name one thing each day you appreciate about you just the way you are. On the days that seemed harder to be alright with me just the way I am, I practiced trying to say something to myself I appreciated about myself. Have you ever seen a picture of someone hysterically laughing? We often don't start judging how that person looks, but we notice and can feel in our own body that joy and pleasure and relaxation in that moment. The day of my wedding I would rather feel connected to myself and all the things I appreciate about me just the way I am than pick apart every tiny little thing I would like to change.
3. Being alright with not feeling loving about myself. Some days we simply just don't love ourselves. Some days it can be difficult to find that appreciation for who we are just as we are. We get to make those moments alright and that they can simply be a part of life. Whenever I was able to simply embrace that today I simply don't know how to foster feelings of love for myself, the intensity of the lack of love present could decrease and I could just be in the moment alright with feeling slightly disconnected from me and my brilliance in that one moment. This also meant infusing those moments with tons of trust that the feelings of love for myself would return again and again at some other point in time.
I'm not going to lie here. This is still a practice I am engaging in every day. My wedding is next Sunday and I still have days where my own perfectionist part of me arises and desires to have the day be perfect and to suddenly have a different body than my own. And then I return again and again to looking at my Fiance's face and remembering what this day is about. A celebration of finding each other and feeling so seen and more understood by any human being in my entire life that even typing that brings tears of joy as I never in my life thought I would find this kind of love.
Our relationship with our body and food is often a doorway to where else in our life is needing our loving attention and affection. Any insecurities we may ever have around our body can be an opportunity to slow down and explore where else in our life is needing our loving attention? Whenever any fears arise for me now around my physical form I know that old wounds around being picked on as a child, around my family, around the beliefs of what I thought I deserved that were cultivated as a teenager are coming up for me and that in those moments I can move away from the focus on my body and begin to foster new beliefs around who I am today and what I deserve in this world here and now.
I feel honored to do the work I do today because if I could support one single other person on this planet in feeling more love, more acceptance, more compassion for who they are just as they are then we can slowly start to change the external messages we receive in this world that we have to change to be accepted. I wish you unconditional self love in your own life and excited to continue to explore this adventure with you.