The Specific Use of a Body: Weight, Safety + Acceptance

September 27, 2012

I have always used my body in a very specific way.

I don’t often talk about weight here, because I have very intentionally created a haven for addressing self-love in a weight-less, body-less sort of way, so that it can easily be tried on and amended by those readers who are coming from a variety of backgrounds, lived experiences, and sizes.

I have done this to make you feel comfortable.

However, I have also done this to keep myself comfortable, because it isn’t often that my honesty and vulnerability extends to frank discussions about my relationship with my body – not just my body image, but the visceral size and ability of my body.

I recently became aware that one of my clients initially didn’t want to work with me, because she thought I might judge her desire to lose weight, to transform the body that she had into a new body, a thinner, different body.

I felt the need to provide some clarity on this issue, to state very clearly: I will never judge your relationship with your body, no matter what it contains.

I  have always used my body in a very specific way.

Imagine, a small girl in a little tent. There is a tiny fire in the tent to keep her warm. There might even be some toys or drawings on the wall. This is her house, the place where she feels cozy and comfortable. The walls of the cave are insulated well, with layers and layers of down comforters. In that tent, she is safe, no one can peek in or discover her there. In that tent, she can be whomever she wants to be, because no one can touch her there.  In that little tent, she is the big fish in the small pond. The master of her domain. In that little tent, she can create gorgeous murals or intricate stories or beautiful dance routines, because she is protected, there.

Imagine, that closet or drawer in your house that you shove all of your odds and ends into, that place that is a refuge for all of the shit that you can’t deal with. That place that you can shove all of your unwanted items into, hiding it conveniently from view. The rest of the house can be clean and orderly, but that one closet is a fantastic mess, threatening to cascade out every time you open the door. Thus, you open the door infrequently and generally pretend the closet doesn’t exist.

That closet is my body.

As is the tent.

I am also the little girl warming herself by the fire, cozy in the safety of her fire, books, and drawings on the wall.

I am comprised of the junk in the closet that threatens to bust out and overflow into the hall.

Over the course of my life, I have permitted my body to be a convenient scape goat. I have allowed it to be the catch-all for my fears around playing big in my daily life.

I have been afraid to be intimidating.  Yet, I have been able to be quite successful, because my body consciously undermines me at every turn. As in, I don’t have to worry about how much money I make or how well I do, because my weight keeps me from being threatening to others.

My status as a bit of a cautionary tale, allows others to feel safe around me.

When I say that I use my body in a specific way, I am describing the way in which, my body, this body has served me.

It has saved me.

It has kept me safe when my safety was not guaranteed by those around me.

But, in my adulthood, I have decided not to use my body in this way anymore. I have decided to go all in in terms of living my life, and I have begun the process of no longer using my body as a tool to put distance between myself and others.

I have started living in my skin instead.

And now, I am comfortable talking with others about their weight loss, because weight gained or lost is of very little importance to me.  What I am concerned with is how those attempts are grounded in paying attention to yourself, to the minuscule changes that occur within your skin, to truly taking care of yourself, to the dreams that you have for yourself, and the how your body and your health can support those dreams.

I want to know about how your body serves you. How your weight serves you.

This is not about judgment or me telling anyone anything about what they should do – this is about each and every one of us learning what it means to truly take care of ourselves like the special, beautiful, and intricately glorious person that we are.

This is about the ways in which the story that you tell yourself, about yourself and what you deserve, serves you.

My relationship with my body has grown over the years, strengthening and deepening in different ways, but I am not a stranger to the struggle. I am not a stranger to waking up and realizing that I still need to make the choice to love myself.  I am not a stranger to opening up my closet and realizing nothing fits. Or eating all the wrong things in a fit of forgetting myself. Or telling my partner I can’t imagine having sex because I feel so uncomfortable in my skin.

I am human, after all.

We are all human. We will not always get it right. We will not always know what the best thing is to do. But when we share, truly share, from our hearts and in service of getting to know ourselves better -we are all better for it. Our community craves our stories and our honesty, because each and every one of us feels so damn alone with our pain.

This is the place for your pain. You can unburden yourself here. We can hold your stories, because we, too, have stories of our own.

After years of avoidance and disassociation and sticking my head in the stand – I am endeavoring in the intricate art of staying with myself, no matter how ugly it gets. The art of choosing love and care instead of running and hiding.

The art of taking responsibility for the one body and the one life that I have been given, because at the end of the day, I all I’ve got is me.

It may be imperfect. It may be irregular. It may be cyclical.It may not make sense to anyone else.

But, it is all mine.