The day after my second child turned one, tears streamed down my face and my body started to shake as I sobbed alone in my backyard. I wasn’t crying because he wasn’t a baby anymore, I was undone that a year after I had brought that sweet boy home I weighed the same horrible number as the day I left the hospital. Wasn’t that the rule? A year to gain, a year to lose. I had gained 30 pounds, and a year later had lost none.
It was frustrating that my clothes didn’t fit and my reflection still caught me by surprise from time to time, but it wasn’t bikini season that had me crouched over in tears of shame- I thought my post-baby body said something about me:
…that I was undisciplined or unmotivated
…that I wasn’t “keeping it tight” or giving my husband something worth looking at
…that I would never fit in with the pretty, popular moms
I was so obsessed with what I thought my body said ABOUT me, that I completely missed what my body was saying TO me.
I had two kids under two and struggled with post-partum depression after my second child. My body was desperate for self-care. I was eating my emotions instead of dealing with them. Every time I looked in the mirror I felt such loathing for that haggard woman staring back at me, it made me want to eat a brownie. I was struggling with motherhood, with having left my career, and with making new friends.
My 30 pounds were not saying I was not beautiful or worthy, the weight I was holding was trying to tell me I needed to deal with the heavy emotions my soul was trying to carry. We are all a tripod of mind, spirit, and body. When our body is out of balance it’s an invitation to notice what is going on with the rest of us, even if that awareness is awkward or painful.
It’s been two years since the tears I cried after my son’s birthday party. I finally lost the weight after a long and integrated journey toward physical, spiritual, and mental care. I’ve learned that my body is not my avatar to impress the world, my skin is my opportunity to show up and love the world.
I’ve learned to listen to what my body is saying to me:
…that being tired isn’t my body saying I’m incapable, it’s my body asking me to rest
…that being sick isn’t my body accusing me of not eating enough veggies, it’s my body asking me to slow down and ask for help
…that gaining a pound or two isn’t a relapse, it’s my body wanting me to move a little more and stop eating goldfish crackers (my body and I still fight on this one a lot)
I used to think that having body image issues was a lifelong part of being a woman, but I am finding that when I listen to my body as a message carrier for my soul I care a lot less about how it looks in a bikini. As I learn to listen to my body, I’m learning to listen to my deepest self; and as my deepest self finds her voice I’m learning to like her. Even more than brownies.
If your body is not cooperating with you- hear her out. She may have something to say that could surprise you.