Most of us would change something about our bodies if we could. We (too) often speak harshly about ourselves: Gross. Fat. Ugly. Flabby. Eh, this part is ok. But this part, disgusting. Too big. Too small. Too short. Too tall.
Body image is a reflection of our thoughts and belief systems. It is also an indicator of the amount of self love we possess. Stories we have been told. And lies we believe.
The weight loss industry rakes in billions each year. People try one diet after another. They ride the wave the media makes. Everyone wants a quick fix to look “good,” whatever that means. Heck, some people don’t care if it’s quick – they just want a fix.
But, when tragedy strikes…it shakes those negative opinions and beliefs to the very core.
It’s truly life-altering having health one day and not having it the next. Having mobility can be taken away. Accidents happen and can leave debilitation in it’s path. We may be diagnosed with a disease or condition. We may be swept over by the flu or other illness. Bones break. And, the extreme case is death. All life gone in a whisper.
All this vanity imposed upon society may be revisited in these instances. And we become suddenly and chillingly aware that all that matters is a body that works for us. And in that, it’s beautiful.
Six weeks ago I had a c-section. I was just 3 days away from my checkup where I was anticipating full clearance to go back to “normal” life (whatever that means, haha). I came down with a fever suddenly. And the next morning my lower abdomen was red and hot to the touch. I don’t normally call the doctor when I notice odd things, I usually just carry on with myself, but this time I called. They had me rush in on Friday before closing (this is a whole other story with its share of funnies for another time). Yep. My fears had been confirmed – infection. And if it didn’t clear by the weekend for my appointment Monday, the incision would need to be reopened and remain open. There would be possible hospital time (the thought alone sent me in a frenzy being I am nursing and also have a 4 year old). And months of healing ahead. “Joy!!”
That night, the redness from the infection nearly tripled in size, a pretty good sign it had spread. I was also getting pains in my chest similar to the ones in my lower abdomen where the infection was. My head ached. I had a fever. Most of my body was red. For a split second, I was actually nervous. What if it spread further or was in my blood. My appointment wasn’t for two more days. What if I had some freak thing happen? I did have a heart murmur, after all and I am not really sure what that means except that all of a sudden the dentists ask about it before seeing you. My M.O. is to brush off any ailments but this time, I felt different. And scared. Then I said to myself, a couple powerful words. “Not me.” Bam. It hit me. Everyone says “not me.” No one thinks something is going to happen. And freak things happen all the time. Nah. I am too young. I have too much to do and say that I haven’t done yet. Bam. “But what if you planned this when you designed your life plan before birth?” No. I can’t leave my two girls. Bam. Again. “What if it’s in their life plan to not have their mom?” Chills flashed through my body. Raw, real shock shook my world. In that very moment, in a moment of perfect clarity, such a thing as “ugly” bore no relevance. I felt silly for wishing I was back to my “normal” size and body.
I had a bargaining moment with God and myself. If I make it through this alive, I am going to just love my body as is. After all, the only thing that matters is I have a body…and a life in which to use that body as a vehicle. Its intended purpose. Who gives a damn about a little fold of skin that hangs over the incision that may never go away. Fat thighs? No more. They’re awesome. They can move and I can walk and dance and play. Appreciation and love took over.
Seeing as I survived the night without going into heart failure, I was determined to ditch the infection. I ate lightly, had lots of liquids, and ate pretty much only fruits and veggies.
Monday came. Diligence paid off. The infection was diminishing. I was given clearance to be “normal,” again. I was elated.
But something happened on Monday I never expected. I began to sulk about the fold of skin that the doctor said wouldn’t go away (she actually said “maybe” to me verbally, but shook her head no at my mom who was with me accompanied by a ‘yikes’ face). I plotted ways to lose the baby weight. I felt ugly, again.
It’s unbelievable, really, how quickly we take for granted something so incredibly miraculous and beautiful. Our bodies were meant to help us in fulfilling our life path. Vehicles for transformation. Our ability to be mobile, to have sight or hearing, to touch…each blessing we are gifted with is to be cherished and celebrated. It is not until we learn to love and appreciate our bodies for what they are – miraculous – that we can begin to feel and look the way we were intended. No diet will work. No pill will hold a magic cure. Healing and change begins on the inside with a single thought.
But the funny thing is, once you learn to love and respect your priceless body for all it gives you and helps you with, odds are you may not even care what it “looks” like. You’ll love it no matter what. Because you’re beautiful.