I hate my thighs, and I hate myself for hating my thighs
I'm saying it out loud. I am a purveyor of health, wellness, and self-love, and I hate my thighs and hate myself for hating my thighs. I know this is strong language, I know this is not the voice of self-love, yet there it is.
A little background, I became very self-conscious of my body in high school. I started limiting, and binging, and obsessing over food around the same time. I began modeling professionally a year or two later, and it all got more intense. By my early 20's I was binging, purging, and over-exercising most days, which went on for longer than I care to remember. But life wasn't all about just that.
At the same time, I was healing, working on myself, changing my inner dialogue, practicing self-acceptance, creating healthy relationships, working on myself, staying in the conversation of empowerment, training as a movement and exercise professional, oh and did I mention?
- working on myself!
Eventually, I began to lighten up a bit. I found success in my career, practicing health and wellness and helping others do the same. There was more space between "purge episodes" until they eventually ceased. I learned how to say kind things while looking in the mirror.
"My legs are so strong."
"I am beautiful."
"I love myself."
"I learned how to ask all the right questions when facing the pantry.
"Am I really hungry?"
"What am I truly hungry for?"
"What am I distracting from?"
"What emptiness am I trying to fill?"
Then I would meditate, and/or journal, and/or take a walk and/or tap into any other tricks I had in my bag, and a couple of years ago, I actually told myself, "I think I have this thing licked."
I would gently and lovingly correct someone, often a client at the studio, when they said something self-deprecating:
Them: "I feel so fat today."
Me: Polite laugh, "you look great, think how strong you are becoming..."
There is nothing wrong with flipping the script, but there was something else I was doing that wasn't working. I was somehow sweeping feelings (mine and theirs) under the rug. Uncomfortable subject matter? Check. Polite Avoidance? Check.
I was also living in a "should."
"We should love ourselves unconditionally."
"We should not judge ourselves or others based on appearance or anything else for that matter."
"We should be over this by now."
"We should only have kind thoughts."
So, therefore, I'm going to gloss over everything you just said, ignore the feelings underneath and tell you how to just be different.
I was doing this to myself too.
But guess what? We're human, and we don't always love unconditionally, release judgment, be kind, or get over it. And no matter how much work we have done on ourselves, sometimes those familiar feelings of inadequacy or worse come up, and I'm tired of sweeping them under the rug.
Flash forward to a year of a global pandemic and the present moment.
I am quietly struggling. I feel fat. To me, in the mirror, I look fat. A minor resurgence of Body dysmorphia, anyone? I look in the pantry, and I mindlessly pull a snack, and then I do it again and again. Or, I'm limiting, no food between this time and that, cookies, but only on Wednesdays, or just no food. I am thinking about food too much. I also have irrational thoughts, like If only I were taller, if only I were younger, if only I could cut every "bad thing" in my diet, if only I were perfect.
By now, we all know one of COVID-19's gifts is the removal of our illusion of control. Suppose you struggled with something mental healthwise in the past. Even if you think you licked it, it's back. Time to peel another layer. Awesome! (eye-roll).
If you know me, you know that I really do see this as a gift, and if I am sincere, I am still pissed. I hate my thighs, and I hate that I do that to myself. I am tired of spending energy on seeking perfection, hoping to be different, wishing for more control. I am angry that I am still wasting my resources on this stuff.
So what to do, what to do?
For me, getting it out, being transparent, creating a conversation based on understanding and honesty, and having an end goal of more self-acceptance seems to help—no more of this toxic positivity/ dishonesty BS.
"I am great, I am fine, I am a facsimile of how I think I should be." (puke)
Yes, your pilates instructor, who you trust with your self-care, looks to be in pretty good health and fitness and appears to have it together, looks in the mirror, and doesn't like who she sees. I fight with food. I fight with my body. I fight with my aging. I fight with change. Yet, I am still committed to my wholeness. Part of my journey into body, mind, spirit unity includes, in the form of lack, not-enoughness, and big-time self-judgment, a direct invitation back to love.
So what are the top 5 energy-sucking beliefs (invitations back to love) that I'm playing with right now?
I wish my thigh bones were 2 inches longer.
This hales from my modeling days when an agent said, "If only you had the same kind of length in your upper leg as in your lower leg."
Yes, this really happened, and yes, I still hear it in my head to this day. So I want the 2 inches but of course, with no more added weight. Do an extra 2 inches make me a better mother, teacher, wife? I am already amazing at all those things(most of the time) and continue to grow into them each day with grace and curiosity 5'10" or not.
I wish I were more outgoing and fun and social like the normal people I know. Not the dull, stick in the mud that I am.
Ah, to be completely cool as a cucumber, hilarious, witty, and in the mix with those about town... but then I think is that really what I want. I love my close circle. I love my alone time. Would socializing more add to my energy or take away from it? Do I like to be having surface conversations? Do I want to be drinking more than is good for me in order to relax? (not that people who socialize can't have deep conversations or always drink too much, those just tend to be my go to's)
I wish I didn't have this food compulsion; life would be so much easier if I didn't think about food all the time.
Now this one gets me. I mean, I'm 45, for goodness sake. I have been with this issue now for over 25 years. Why can't I stop at one piece of cake, or one glass of wine, or a couple of chips, without so much damn effort and thought? What could I do with that freed-up space in my head? Probably be at cause for world peace, cure cancer, and solve the homeless problem.
I exercise practically every day; I mean, I TEACH exercise and wellness; why the hell don't I look like the pilates Instagrammers I follow?
Oh man, this pops into my head often, damn you, social media! I know better, but I am still waiting for my perfect body. I had a client ask me when she was going to get a butt. She is in her 60's. I said lovingly and with a little tongue in cheek, "If you were going to get one (the butt of your dreams), don't you think you would have had it by now."
Can I please take this advice and accept, love, and be grateful for my healthy, mobile, strong body as it is? And keep in mind there is this thing called unique anatomy that leads to our body types?
Will I ever be smart enough, studied enough, cool enough, brave enough to make a difference in the world and get noticed?
Then I remember, I am making a difference, maybe not a Gandhi, Oprah, King, type difference, but even when I'm muddling through my dark moments, I still do my best to bring light to the world. The funny thing is I get acknowledgment for the difference I make for others all the time. It's weird how forgetful and hard of hearing I can be.
I guess what's important is that we/I pay attention to these thoughts in a way that will lead us to more expansion and understanding both for self and others (low vibrational stuff as an invitation back to love). Notice the rumination when it happens and then lighten up.
More and more, it seems to me to be a disservice to myself and the collective to brush the thoughts, actions, and words aside with:
-Get out of my head!
-I'm done with this!
-This thought shouldn't be here anymore! or
-By now, we just simply shouldn't be having this conversation.
The resistance, avoidance, and denial just makes it all stickier for me. I don't really love being stuck, so right now, I am hunkering down, being in the exploration, and peeling back one more layer.
What personal limits are you noticing at this time, What new wayd of being are the limits inviting you into?