One night I was watching tv with my 13 year old, and he was admiring his feet. He said “my toes look like little people, don’t they? They are like plump, juicy little people”. And they actually do! I was jealous that he could like his feet at age 13. At 13 I hated my feet, my thighs, my stomach, my arms, my hair….well, you get the idea, right?
A few weeks later, at a yoga class, it hit me – I am a Mean Girl to my body! I always have been. I’ve chastised it for years. Why aren’t you slimmer, prettier, less hairy, larger boobs, etc. In my late 20’s I briefly liked my body after having my 1st child, but when I say briefly, I mean briefly – maybe a week at most. I quickly fell back into the same routine, but now had a whole new list of complaints about my post-baby shape. After my 2nd baby I developed chronic health issues, adding yet another layer of condemnation to my poor body. I don’t even want to rehash all of those messages.
I was the Queen of Mean Girls!
Last September I started yoga class for cancer survivors. I went begrudgingly, feeling fairly confident it had nothing to offer me, since my body is a “wreck” and the “enemy” and not able to exercise. I won’t go on and on about yoga (although I can if anyone wants to message me) but I have become devoted to the practice. I’ve “mastered” many challenging poses; in fact, I think it’s safe to say I’m “winning” at Yoga (joke for any yogi’s out there). It has transformed my body and is, very slowly, chipping away at my mental health.
In January I had a hernia repaired (hernia courtesy of ovarian cancer) and, despite my surgeon’s warning not to, I was back to yoga class after 2 weeks, at which time I proceeded to berate my body for its limitations. One more insult my body was laying on me, not allowing me to do even a decent cat/cow. I added a “weak” abdomen to my list of complaints about my body and began obsessing about my ill fate; about the ongoing “fight” I was engaged in with my body.
Two months later, as I took bow for the 1st time since my surgery, I realized that my body is Not The Enemy!! Given time, patience and practice, my body actually works quite well. It’s my Mind that’s the Enemy! Who knew? (Did all of you know? Am I really late to the party?) If I choose to, I can be nice to my body! I can like my feet, and my fat thighs, and my cellulite, and my bloated belly, and the loose skin on my arms. My body has kept me alive for 53 years, despite my minds’ efforts to de-rail it! My body has fought through a crap load of illness & disease, and it fought hard for me, whether I helped it or not.
My Inner Mean Girl is still with me, but I hear her now, and challenge her words. I’ve been cultivating an Inner nice Girl and she is sometimes louder than the Mean Girl. Not always, but more often each day. I hope someday to banish my Inner Mean Girl and allow my Inner Nice Girl to take over. Wouldn’t that be nice?
Of course, in two days I’m headed to the beach and have to put on a bathing suit, so my Inner Mean Girl might make a roaring comeback! If she does though, she’ll have to battle it out with my new Inner Nice Girl.