Learning to Love Myself

Alright. I ask for your patience and your grace today as you read this. Today is one of those posts straight from the heart. I haven't thought it out or spent the week thinking about what I was going to say. Well, actually I did, but this wasn't it. Today is I am sharing part of my soul and like me it is at times awkward and strange and doesn't always make sense or look pretty. 

 

Photo Mar 13, 8 58 03 AMI had a big realization today.

It’s so simple, yet it’s taken me 36 years to get here.

Here it is:

 I can’t do anything without God

 

I know, this is the point where some of you roll your eyes. I get it. I’m still there. Though I find lately that I am feeling more comfortable calling myself “a Christian” I am still battling to let go of all of those preconceived notions of little church ladies so hilariously brought to life by Dana Carvey on SNL. Nevertheless, it’s true.

 

You see, somewhere in my late teen years I started to dislike myself. My body to be more specific. I’m not exactly sure when it first started. In high school, I wore dresses and skirts the lengths of which I will never let my daughters don. I remember at one time feeling more carefree about my body & my appearance; unconcerned with what I wore and rarely wearing makeup. If pressed I would say it started as a pesky voice somewhere in high school whispering about how my tummy wasn’t as flat as ____’s or reminding me not to cross my legs that way, but never really interfering in my life. Over time it became an inability to wear shorts that didn’t at least reach my knee and eventually to stop wearing them in public at all. It turned into days of feeling horrible and unattractive, to changing my clothes 10 times and finally just wearing something because nothing really looked good. It made me step on the scale six times a day and cringe and this was when I barely hit the triple digits. It made me cry some days to feel as I did. It made me cry to hear compliments because I just couldn’t see it.

 

Always I would obsess about it for a bit, but it would lessen and I could go about my life without it crushing me. Other times I would work hard to fight it and take up yoga or running and work hard to love my body for what it could DO rather than what it looked like and it would work. For a time. Then I would be back there, like I was yesterday. Like I am today. This cruel tape recorder of ugly words playing in my mind that I’ve been playing for years. It’s only gotten uglier as the years have gone by. Since I’ve had kids it’s been heavy, sitting on my chest making it hard to breathe. Nearly impossible to leave the house some days. Stretch marks, love handles, loose skin, saggy boobs, double chin, goiter. It plays over and over. I’ve tried buying new clothes; that’s what I did yesterday. “Nice pants you’ve got there. Too bad the higher rise just turns your muffin top into an spare tire. You’re not fooling anyone.” It’s affected nearly every aspect of my life, especially my marriage. It’s taken all the energy I have not to let my kids see it; this crazy inside of me. It’s taken everything I have not to sob in front of them when they comment about how squishy I am and ask if I have a baby in my tummy. I don’t want to pass this along because somewhere inside of me I know it’s not right to beat myself us this way.

 

Learning to Love Myself

 

But I don’t want to write this because I want your pity. Being fat AND pathetic is just not a step I’m ready to take yet *wink*. And lord knows I’ve heard my fair share of advice- everything from diet tips to buying myself a girdle. Also, I am not looking for words of encouragement here. Frankly, I would just assume you’re all a bunch of liars just trying to make me feel better about myself. Ask my husband, he’s tried it and it’s exhausting & won’t get you anywhere. I don’t want to sound bitchy here, I mean, I know people’s intentions are good. But it’s missing the point. I didn’t love myself when I weighed 100 lbs soaking wet so I think it’s safe to say that more encouragement or working hard to lose weight aren’t going to bring me satisfaction. Not really. Sure, I might feel better about how my pants fit, but in the long run I don’t think it’s going to change how I think about myself. I also don’t need to hear the “Who are you to complain?! it could be worse!” things either. Because it’s not really about my size- size 0 or size 20, it’s all the same. I think that my body has just been the scapegoat for how I really feel about me sometimes. Because really, what’s worse than hating on yourself?

 

It’s something that I’ve felt so helpless about. I mean, how do you begin to change something you know to be true about yourself? Because sadly, it is something I know just as I know the earth is round. It goes beyond belief for me because I know it in my heart at this time this very day to be factual. So how do I tell myself otherwise? How do I change one of my intrinsic beliefs about who I am and what I look like? How do I stop a tape recorder that plays so soft I cannot even hear it though it’s words shape my every day? The answer, my friends, is that I can’t. I can’t do it. At least, not by myself.

 

Learning to Love Myself

 

So that brings us back around to my epiphany. I can’t do anything without God. So I did what I do most everyday, now. I prayed. I sat in my car in the parking lot looking like a crazy person talking out loud to myself. After all, this is where we have most of our talks. Out loud in that crappy, rusty, Chevy Cavalier. I talk to Him on the way to the grocery store or after dropping off the kids. Today I had to wait until I stopped the car and then it all came pouring out. My need for forgiveness as I have not been thankful of the gift He has given me. That I have not been rejoicing in the abilities He has bestowed on me. I can walk & run & dance. I have grown TWO HUMAN BEINGS IN MY BODY! I mean, what the fuck?! That’s amazing!! And instead of being exuberant, instead of dancing in praise I spend my time belittling what He has made and what He has given me. I have been letting the world have power over me- judging myself by human, worldly standards rather than His. I have been trying to live by the words of Mark 12:31- The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” How do I begin to do that when I have not yet allowed me to love myself?

 

So today I begin my long and arduous journey of hunting down that tape recorder and making a new message. The good news is that I won’t have to go it alone. That doesn’t mean it will be easy. Hell no. That’s something I didn’t understand before. Before I began getting to know Jesus (I know, eye roll. Don’t worry I will be kicking my own ass for this I am sure) I thought that Christians had it all made. You never had to worry. Jesus had your back and it was all good. Life was easy knowing you weren’t alone. And it’s true to an extent- there is a sort of comfort in that, but it doesn’t mean shit won’t be hard. That you are done suffering. That you still won’t feel  alone sometimes. I know that God isn’t going to snap his fingers and make it all right. I know that I will still have to do the work. So I begged for his help knowing I couldn’t do this alone. Knowing that this is a change of heart I can’t make without Him. I asked for His help so that I can recognize when I start playing that damn tape. I asked for this to be done as He sees fit- whatever that means- but I asked for clarity in recognizing it. I asked for strength as I endure it. I asked for grace when I fail, because some days I will. Today I start to record a new message and with His grace I will begin to record a new message.

 

Learning to Love Myself

 

So here is what I plan to record:

 

-Kelly, you’re body is amazing! Evolution couldn’t have done this. Only God could have made you so intricate and complex. YOU are a wonder to the world. Did you know:

*You are made up of 7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (7 octillion) atoms. For perspective, there’s a ‘measly’ 300,000,000,000 (300 billion) stars in our galaxy.

*If your brain were a computer, it could perform 38 thousand-trillion operations per second. The world’s most powerful supercomputer, BlueGene, can manage only .002% of that.

*Your body produces 25 million new cells each second. Every 13 seconds, you produce more cells than there are people in the United States.

*Your brain’s connected neurons look similar to the structure of the universe. In a way, our brains are modeled after the universe. Perhaps God has a sense of humor.

 

-Kelly, your body grew two human beings. TWO HUMAN BEINGS!! For 33 weeks and 3 days you carried two beautiful girls in your belly. You gave up your life to lay on a couch for over 9 weeks to grow those gorgeous girls safely. You are an unstoppable warrior. You gained 40 lbs and stretched that belly until it measured the same as a woman 43 weeks pregnant. You had them cut out of you- yeah, CUT- and were down by their bedside an hour later, up and walking as soon as you could feel your legs and home with them in 3 days. Your body is an amazing tribute to all it has done.

 

-Kelly, I know today feels rough but remember this:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Philippians 4:8-9

 

-Kelly, I know today is hard but repeat this. Now repeat it again:

Learning to Love Myself

-Kelly, I know today feels impossible. Remember you cannot do this yourself. Remember this:

28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  

Matthew 11:28-30

 

Do you know you are fearfully & wonderfully made? 

 

 

4 Responses

  1. Abby

    Wow, Kelly! I am really going to have to ponder this one. You see, I have a nearly identical looping message that runs through my mind non-stop…so much so that I named my internal bully. (She really is a b*tch). I fight that relentless fight about counting calories and obsess about the ratio of Cardio to weight training to HIIT…and all for what…today I need to go buy BIGGER pants. WTF. But…I sleep like crap, stress 24 hours a day, and hate myself. So, there-in lies the mystery of these weird things we call bodies. Am I my body? Or am I my heart and soul? When I die, will my son remember my flabby arms or my hugs that encircled him? On a good day, I worry that the more I worry the more I will keep negative energy around and in my body so I will give myself cancer. I worry that my huge ass trying to do another Burpee will send my heart rate so scary high it is going to give me heart damage, or blow out a knee–when maybe really shouldn’t I have just enjoyed a nice hike with my husband and kid, which fills me with joy instead of heartburn? I love that you are going to record a new monologue for you to loop in your head! I need to make one, too. I know that the 2 wonderful human beings I share my life with would quite honestly rather see me happy than irritated at what the scale says, who would rather play at the park with me then hear me howl in pain after another lunge. Life is suffering…how to do ease the suffering? I need to learn to be gentler with my heart and soul and realize that my body is just a weird vessel that contains them. “I am as God made me” is a good message to add to my new internal dialog set list! Thanks, Kelly!

    • Kelly Meyer

      Thanks, Abby! Funny isn’t it how awful and hard we are on ourselves when we would never dream of treating someone else the same way! I feel like deep down we all know what is important (like a hike with your family living in the joy of today) and yet we get thrown off track by the simplest things. Our bodies should be our allies and not our enemies; they are such a fragile thing rotting away as our spirit grows. It’s so simple, really, so why is making that change so damn hard?! Today Abby, I give you permission to never do another burpee in your life (they are a wretched form of torture anyway). I hope you take time to make yourself a new monologue; you deserve it!

  2. Sarah

    What a brave post Kelly, thanks for sharing how so many of us feel about ourselves. I’ll spare the ‘you’re beautiful’s’ because you said you didn’t want them, but of course you are… We all are:) I was listening to a podcast yesterday on Sounds True and the speaker, a psychologist and author named Mary Pipher, was talking about living with despair – her word for depression/anxiety – and she said much of it seems to have to do with a person’s loss of trust in the universe’s inherent ability to support us and/or loss of trust in ourselves to successfully navigate our experience here. One way through that, she suggested, is to find a spiritual path, a path that makes us feel bigger in the face of what has begun to feel so unbearable. Sounds like you’re doing just that! The other thing I’ve found helpful when I’m spinning in self-loathing or frozen in fear over the future or x, y or z is to stop trying to find a way out of that experience. Instead, I’ve been learning to try and pay attention to how those emotions register in my body as sensations. Do I feel it as a dryness in my throat, a tightening in my chest, etc… In that way, you shift your experience from the mind to the body, which can allow for a different level of processing and release. Not sure if that makes sense.The final note I would offer is to just allow whatever you’re feeling in without judgement… Mindfulness meditation can be good for that. “The only way out is through,” Robert Frost wisely said, at least I think it was him.. Anyway, I don’t normally comment on blog posts and sort of feel like an idiot commenting now but I was struck by your honesty and humor and vulnerability so here I am…. Thanks again for opening up.

    • Kelly Meyer

      Sarah, thank you so much for taking the time to comment! Such amazing insight- honestly! I know what you mean by registering the feelings as bodily sensations, for me it’s like a tightness in my chest- no matter how deeply I breathe I can’t get enough air!- and tension in my shoulders. I can’t say that I’ve tried just staying in it- not in any intentional, introspective way anyway. It seems that when I start to feel this way I run toward distraction instead. Thank you again for the advice- and the podcast recommendation (I’m a bit of a podcast junkie but haven’t heard of that one!). xoxo Kelly