I'm in the middle of perimenopause - that trying time when the body is transitioning into menopause. It's not an easy thing to go through. The symptoms it's causing make me feel really low about myself at that time of the month. I literally feel ugly and hate my looks. It doesn't help when I have a tendency already to compare my weight to others. It's something I've learned from our culture. It's sad really.
I saw a nude painting of Helen of Troy in a movie I watched a couple of weeks ago. She was supposed to be the most beautiful woman in the world at that time, and she looked a lot like me nude - full hips, rolls in the tummy area, tree-trunk thighs - you get the picture. It's really, really sad that nowadays you're pretty much unpopular and regarded as unworthy, lazy, and unhealthy if you're not slim. I could go into the health behind it, but I'm not going to now. That's a whole other post.
Hans Baldung 1545 (Not Helen of Troy)
So, I went to my dance group social on Monday. I shouldn't have gone because on the first day of my period, I really don't feel well physically. But I had FOMO (fear of missing out). Anyway, it was such an odd day with a lot going on and not feeling well, and I don't have a full-length mirror, so the outfit I chose wasn't a good pick. I only figured that out after the fact. I went there and danced to some of my favourite songs. It's something I love doing. But I began to feel sick and had to leave early. I pushed myself a bit hard, despite feeling sick, just to prove to people in the room that the fat girl could also dance. Not a good reason to push yourself. The next day, the first thing I saw in the morning was a video of us dancing. I looked like a blob / rock amongst elegant trees. Everyone else looked graceful and lovely and I was this round ball on the screen with spindly legs and arms sticking out. I was horrified. I was so embarrassed. I wished I had worn something slim-fitting, to make me look less huge. I began to go through scenarios in my mind - judging myself and hating on myself. It was NOT AT ALL EASY to love myself. And the hormones were pulling me down into the pit.
|Image by https://pixabay.com/users/diefototipps-190751|
Just as animals come in all shapes and sizes, so do we.
Should we shoot the hippo and the seal because they are fat? Just saying.
What did I do? Not much except go watch some videos from my favourite fat-positive nutritionists and tell myself that this will pass. That I will soon feel better about myself, that next time I will wear something more flattering. But then I judged myself for not loving myself enough to have to wear something that was culturally more acceptable. This morning I thought - no, I can still work hard to wear something that makes me look thinner - there's nothing un-self-loving about that. We live in a culture that rejects us for being fat. What's wrong with working as hard as I can to make it easier on myself? (I'm not talking about dieting here. Yes, you are welcome to diet, but I'm no longer dieting as that is what made me go up three dress sizes after feeling sick as anything.)
Once my hormones were no longer persecuting me the next day, I felt better about myself. I felt tender toward myself. I concentrated on self-love in my morning meditation. I felt at peace again.
Now, having written a self-love book makes me feel all the more that I should be an example of self-love and not have these wobbles. But they happen. Often. And the key here is to love myself through it - to be gentle with myself as I grow in self-love. Will I ever feel okay about living in a bigger body? I don't know. I doubt I will. I have read so much material by fat-positive activists and coaches - they all struggle. Yes, they've made strides, but they still have bad days. It's so hard when society works against you - when you get looks, when you get rejected. Yes, I believe things are starting to change. As the health-at-every-size science research makes inroads into mainline medicine, things will start to change. But there is a tide that we are working against. And maybe in this lifetime, we won't get there, but things will get better - I believe it.
Another way that I slipped in my self-love this last week was overworking and not taking time out. So many things were happening around me, and they took over. It's so hard to put yourself first and nurture yourself when life throws you one challenge after another. You feel exhausted, depleted, and you've lost touch with that inner connection of love and peace. But it's never too late to find it again. As we grow in self-love, we learn how to make that connection again and again. We learn how to spring back sooner. We become more and more aware when we fall away. We begin to develop this self-love barometer inside our souls that speaks to us when we're going the non-loving route. Yes, it doesn't happen straight away. And I doubt we'll ever have it down to mastery. That's why we need to be gentle with ourselves. Accept that sometimes we neglect ourselves in the pursuit of money, helping others, putting out fires. It's part of life. The key is to say to yourself, "This too shall pass. Well done, you are doing so well despite it all. You're getting there."
I had the most glorious weekend where I let myself drink in the things that feed my soul - reading a good book, resting, walking at the beach, watching a favourite show. When you do get that chance to unwind and put yourself first, you'll come back to that sanctuary that you've made for yourself. It will now be a familiar spot; you will crave it and know how much it helps you. You'll be renewed and things will fall into place again. You'll be more mindful of when you do get out of balance.
You are a self-loving being. You can do it. Even if you fail, pick yourself up, and get onto the love-train again.