"It's not anyone's business if you choose to be happy or healthy." I have felt ashamed of my body for over 30 years. I definitely knew it was connected to my dad's abandonment and alcoholism, but I didn't see how I was the one who kept the script going. Body Image Remix started out as a fun free kindle unlimited read that I thought might help me lose some weight and instead it was a transformation of how I see my body. Before reading this book, I was fully convinced:
I was the problem
My weight was the problem
My desires were the problem
My size was the problem
My personality, intelligence, and interests were the problem
There is some truth that I was the problem, but it was more that belief that was the problem rather than the reality. Ever since my parent's divorce I felt "different" and somehow marked and defiled. "Broken homes" were the disdain of any good "Christian" girl who was hoping to get married to a good man some day. Add being overweight, gifted, articulate, and confident to that mix, and it was very clear I was my greatest fear of being "too much."
I literally had men tell me it was going to be hard for me to find a man who could keep up with me. I had men call me "big" and even state I needed to "take better care of myself." Women of course were more concerned that these awful traits would make me less desirable to find a boyfriend or husband. (Spoiler alert: I'm about to celebrate 21 years of marriage with my best friend and very healthy and attractive husband in just a few days!) The problem wasn't that people said this stuff, the problem was that I BELIEVED they were right.
That's where this radical concept of it not being ANYONE's business about how I choose to do ANYTHING was so deeply profound and healing. Summer Innanen's book is packed full of insight and wisdom and the core desire we all have to protect ourselves from getting hurt. Part of the healing comes from fully embracing YOURSELF! "Embracing yourself means you start seeing yourself as a part of every experience rather than something you manipulate to change your experience." This concept of manipulating myself to be "OK" for others has been such a painful and gut wrenching part of my life. It didn't just happen in how I saw my body, it also impacted how I saw my likes and dislikes, my mistakes and successes,... my strengths and weaknesses. Dissecting myself into manageable parts became my survival game and it is honestly why I ended up in a therapists office 4 1/2 years ago and started this website.
Showing up for myself is the most terrifying and liberating thing I have ever done. In order to do it though, I had to face the worst of all, my own inner critic who has spent years of berating me so I would take the easier road of adjusting my likes rather than owning them. In order to change, I have to do a new thing: I have to become vulnerable. OK, so perhaps some of these blogs are emotionally vulnerable and hopefully inspiring, but if I'm really being honest, I definitely adjust and manipulate my writing to be more "approachable." I've had people tell me in the past that they like my blogs, but there was something missing. I know what was missing: me! You couldn't see it because I used my body as a shield. Summer says in stage three of body love, "You become vulnerable, no longer using your body as a shield to deflect and protect you from emotional harm. Showing up to this party known as life takes serious guts and is the ultimate act of rebellion in a society that tells you who you 'should be.'"
Vulnerability is more than just emotional, it's a commitment to owning your choices and accepting mistakes in doing so. It's admitting to myself that how I've been treated has hurt me, shamed me, and encouraged me to continue a life of manipulating myself to be loved and liked by others. I want to blame former pastors, friends, family for my perpetuated broken down beliefs about myself, but the truest form of vulnerability is admitting I agreed with them, and I can change how I see and accept myself and others. The critical component to vulnerability is, compassion.
"Confidence is the courage to show up as the woman you want to be today. Compassion is the capacity to embrace imperfection and be ok with the outcome no matter what happens."
We are told to be more confident, but I challenge you to be more compassionate. It's in this body that I have offered years of compassion to the hurting and broken students I have taught and tutored. It's with this mind that I can conceptualize plans to help them walk in their superpower learning disabilities rather than seeing them as weaknesses. It's time for my heart to show myself the same compassion. Owning my life and recognizing it's my business how I live and choose to be happy and healthy isn't throwing in the towel and giving up on being thinner, it's accepting myself today as I am and taking small steps of faith day by day believing better days are coming.
Today hope rises again because compassion allows me to accept all of myself as I am in this moment. It allows me to let go of unfair expectations of myself and my body, and fully embrace all I was created for today. You can be comfortable, able to comfort yourself, in your own body, likes, experiences, and relationships. It's not faith if I don't take a step into the unknown. I can find hope and healing everyday I get on this earth and I can offer you the same promise that hope rises again for you, too.
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God."
2 Corinthians 1:3-4