A young friend of mine just posted about his “love/hate” relationship with his body. He posted about how he feels bad about himself when he is heavier. How he has struggled with his weight and how he struggles with daily exercise and how he tells himself he is worth less (not worthless but not worth as much) and how discouraging this battle with self image is. He was honest and raw. How about that?
“Welcome to the club”, I said. Well, not in those exact words. What I said was that at 52 I STILL struggle with tacking my self-image to the size on the tag in my clothing. I told him that I wished I could tell him it gets easier, but that would be dishonest. I told him that we are our harshest critics and we need to stop listening to our own inner dialog when it is putting us down for being where we are it this very point in time and place OUR lives. I’d say this goes for anyone, NO MATTER their size, shape, weight. Skinny, fat, short, tall, thick, thin.
I might point out that this young man is really rather fit and for many of us, he might just be complaining about nothing. But his struggle for balance and his self-perception is real and it is something to which we can all relate and I commend him for starting this dialog. My friends, he struck a cord with me and I think what he had to say will strike a cord with many of you.
What I also told him, and now I’m telling YOU, is that we have to stop convincing ourselves that our friendships and relationships are connected to what others SEE rather than what they EXPERIENCE when they are with us. Might some make a judgement from a distance when they see us? Yes. Might that keep them from really getting to know us? Yes. But those who already know us and love us do so because they know our hearts and our minds and they enjoy us for who we REALLY are. They aren’t going to come and go because of our size or shape. They will only go if we push them away. In fact, I believe that if everyone were truly as honest as my friend, we would see that everyone else thinks just as we do; that the rest of the world is looking at them and judging them by their outer package.
I’VE GAINED WEIGHT. I’ve gained back nearly every pound I lost over the last 3 years. I struggle with this every day and I look in the mirror and I tell myself HATEFUL and UGLY lies and I believe them. I HATE to exercise and I LOVE good foods, of course I’m fat. I did this to myself. I get angry when those closest to me don’t tell me I’m getting fat! How DARE they let me get this way? Truth is I want them to tell me this because if THEY were to tell me I’m getting fat, then I could HEAP the anger and hatred I put upon MYSELF on them instead.
Sure, I could work it off, I could eat less, pass up some of my favorite treats. Many people do that and I’m not saying that I or others shouldn’t eat healthier and work out. I know many do it to feel better, to manage illness. But diet and exercise are not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about the ugly way we talk to ourselves when we look in the mirror or see the number on the scale. I’m talking about how we connect our self-worth to the number on the tag in our clothing. I’m talking about the way we push our friends and family away when we feel badly about ourselves. I’m talking about the lies we tell ourselves. I’m talking about treating ourselves in manner the likes of which we would NEVER accept from anyone else.
If all of my negative self-talk and perceptions were true, I’d be a very lonely person right now. But I’m only lonely if I lock myself away. If I allow those who say they love me to be a part of my life, I can SEE the dishonesty of the things I say to myself. When I lower the shield of guilt and shame, I begin to see all of the people in my life who are there not because of my outer self but because they like my insides and I can begin to see myself in the same way.
They see the inner me. That is the person they like and love. And I know this is true because I have many friends (Pub Club chief among them) who want to spend time with me on a regular basis because they know ME. They know who I am and what I believe and they like me in SPITE of all of that. LOL
I am only as alone in as much as I allow myself to believe I am alone.
I have to wonder if we were all as honest as my friend what might change in our world? What if we all put our insecurities about our bodies and our thought processes into words, admitting that both are connected to our self-worth? What if we might all be able to see that no matter our size or shape, we ALL say hateful things to ourselves?
What if we were all so brave as my friend and we put out our own posts, admitting to our stinkin’ thinkin’, out there? In print. For ALL to see.
Well, maybe, if we could all put down the shields we could get to the business of enjoying the company of ourselves and others and stop being our own worst enemies. Maybe we could open up that part of our brains that are so wrapped up in self-loathing to thinking of ways to make life BETTER for ourselves and others. It starts within each of us and with turning ourselves away from this self-deprecation, we have to be willing to give ourselves the grace of falling down in the process of climbing up out of the pit we have dug for ourselves. All we can do is be the best version of ourselves that we can be and we must accept that some days that “best” may not measure up to our expectations or our perception of what others expect it to be.
Will some walk away from us for being so blatant? For revealing the truth? Maybe. But we can’t take that as judgement on our outward selves. Unless they open up their thoughts to us, we have to try and look at ALL of the possibilities for their actions. Maybe our revelations touch a nerve with them. Maybe they have their own inner dialog that they are not ready to open up to. Or maybe they are just assholes. (yep, I said it. We’re being real here after all, aren’t we?)
Whatever the reason, we must realize that they walked away for their own reasons and NOT because of our size, shape, height, or weight. We must not let that affect our relationship with ourselves in a negative manner. Give yourself a break and maybe a piece of cheese cake. 😉
By admitting we are not that perfect image that we (and we think others) want us to be and sharing that inner dialog with the rest of the world so that we can live honestly we can make a change in the part of the world that matters most. The part of the world WE occupy.
My goodness, friend, you opened the floodgates today. Thankful for you. Hopefully I was able to open some gates for the rest of you.