B is for Body
The body is a tough topic for me.
The truth is, I've hated my body for as long as I can remember. I've done a lot of work around releasing the hatred and leaning into self-love, but I'll be honest--my first response when I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror is still disgust. (No worries...I quickly change those thoughts to affirmations--but I'm keepin' it real!)
Here's the thing...
For someone who is a survivor (BTW, I hate the word survivor. I'm actively trying to come up with another term to describe myself) of childhood sexual abuse and was raised in a religion built on shame, I'm doing pretty damn good. But also, there's a lot of room for improvement. And I'm not talking about improving my body! I'm talking about improving the way my mind sees my body.
Years ago (before I cut off my dominant hand), I was a photographer. I was an okay photographer-- but I was excellent at Photoshop. Using my photoshop skills, I could turn just about any photo into an amazing work of art. I was so fascinated by everything Photoshop could do, I decided to go back to school and get certified in photo restoration to enhance my digital photography skills.
SIDE NOTE: That year, I restored an old photograph of my grandparents to give to my grandma for Christmas. The photo was cracked right across where their hands met and a large portion of the background had been torn off, but my mom told me it was their engagement photo and assured me that it would mean the world to my grandma to have it restored. I put in HOURS of work to make it look like new and the finished product was..well... amazing. When my grandma opened it on Christmas morning, she took one look at it and said, "That's a nice picture of my cousin and me!" Talk about disappointing...
But I digress...
The thing is, I got really good at recreating body parts on people. And although it was a skill designed for restoring old photos, it came in rather handy when I needed to add or remove or alter something in one of my professional photos. One of my clients got wind of my mad Photoshop skills and requested some body sculpting on their next family photo session. She nicknamed my business "Assless Photography", even though I declined and never did alter her body. (She was the first, but definitely not the last, of my clients to make that request.)
It got me thinking.
Why can't we just love our bodies the way they are? Why do we feel the need to alter them--digitally or physically? I mean, is appearance really the most interesting thing about our bodies?
I mean, when I really stop to think about it, my body is amazing.
It survived all kinds of abuse. It grew five new lives inside of it and delivered them into the world. It healed itself from cancer and Covid. It performed the miracle of reattaching and repairing my hand. It has been through hell and back and still shows up for me every day.
My heart keeps beating. My lungs keep breathing. My legs keep moving. My eyes keep seeing. My ears keep hearing.
My body deserves to be loved and cared for as if it is the most important thing in my life--because the truth is, it IS the most important thing in my life. When it ceases to exist, I cease to exist, and life as we now know it--ends.
What if we stopped thinking of our bodies as showpieces, and started thinking of them as tools that need to be cared for in order to continue to serve us well? Because if we're honest, that's what our bodies were always meant to be. Your body is the instrument with which you give and receive love. It's the utensil you use to feed your soul. It's the device that allows you to do things you enjoy. It's the paintbrush with which you create the masterpiece of your life.
Instead of obsessing over the shape and size of your body, instead of beating yourself up because it doesn't look the way you wish it did, instead of focusing on your appearance--let's take a minute to say thank you to your body, instead.
Thank you for carrying you through life.
Thank you for enduring the abuse.
Thank you for giving and receiving hugs.
Thank you for contributing to the world.
Thank you for continuing to live.
That's where I want my focus to be. Will you join me? Perhaps when we learn to love our bodies for all the things they were designed to do and for all the ways they support us each day, we'll start to see them for the miracle they already are.
I have a feeling that's where true peace and happiness reside.