A good friend recently accompanied me to a procedure at an outpatient clinic. Because anesthesia was involved, I needed someone to drive me. She sat next to me while I took off my necklace and put on that lovely gown, open to the back.
Then the nurse asked “How much do you weigh?”
I just lost the twenty pounds I dreamed of losing for decades…not the healthy way, the result of a stressful family situation. Yet I hesitated, uncomfortably aware that I didn’t want this trusted, generous, decades-old friend to hear how many pounds I weighed. Seriously? Still? How old must I be before I de-weaponize the power of that number on the scale?
Very few people were even aware of my weight loss. Newsflash…it seems my waistline is not of major interest to anyone else but me. In my right mind I know there is nothing more boring and fruitless than the conversations I’ve had about my thighs since I was a teenager. In my right mind I know the problem was never my body but the damage I self inflicted because I was strung out on perfectionism. In my right mind I know I owe my body the most sincere apology I can muster for disrespecting it, my durable faithful companion through life’s fierce storms.
As I grew older my complaints expanded beyond the scale. While in a perfect world wrinkles would be restricted to the soles of the feet, I found the need to invest in a 10 times magnification mirror to inspect the impertinent crows feet imprinted around my eyes. Parts I previously ignored…my neck, my chin, my upper arms…my back… rivaled the scale as sources of dismay. Instead of a measure of forgiveness for my aging shell, I Spanxed, and plucked and creamed my increasingly imperfect figure into submission.
I’ve finally grown tired of my own sour attitude. I wonder if my poor body hears everything my mind is saying? If I talked to a friend the way I talked to my body, I’d have no friends left.
I was wise enough for my children. When my daughters were growing up and I’d see their dissatisfaction with their reflection in the mirror, I’d say, “If you only saw yourself through my eyes… which are so much more accurate than yours, you’d be so happy.” Yet there was no transfer of wisdom to forgive my own shape.
As a memoir writer I am keenly aware of how it’s not what happens to you in life that matters…it how you feel about what happens to you that creates your life story. Same with our bodies. Whether you are 180 pounds or 110 pounds, your essence, your soul, your true nature…what matters…lives inside. What possible good to believe the place where joy and grief unfold are housed in a lumpy, ugly frame?
Someone once said loving your body only when it’s in perfect shape is like loving your kids only when they behave. That’s not OK. So I’m sorry, strong body. Dear cells and tissues and organs….you’ve taken me all the way here and will take me till the end. You deserve better.