Hope you like cheese cuz this is one cheeeeeezy article, my loves!
For the most part, I'm a self-confident person. I think part of that comes from how I was raised, and a lot of that is just in my nature (wait, nature vs. nurture?!) But my goodness, I've had, and continue to have, moments where I talk about myself as if I were shit on a shoe. The kind of words you wouldn't dream of saying to anyone else, but somehow they flow so smoothly when you're speaking to yourself. Sometimes I talk about my body as if it were an acquaintance I can't stand. I pick out its perceived flaws - you know, cellulite, a butt flatter than the Canadian prairies, yadda yadda yadda) and complain about them until the cows come home.
No matter what your body looks like, it works freaking hard every day. Staying alive (ah ah ah ah staying alive, staying alive) is hard work and there is SO much that goes on inside of us that we have no idea about. Our bodies, our selves, deserve to be praised and to have gratitude thrust upon them, (along with whatever else you choose to have thrust upon it)...
It can be hard to appreciate what your body does every day until its functioning is put to the test.
Keeping us alive is no easy task - just ask my liver from when I turned 18!
But when any part of your body is compromised, you gain a new perspective on all that's going on behind the scenes with your bod and what it does for you every day - what YOU do for YOU every day, without even knowing it. I used to take a normal, healthy body that could get up every day and function at whatever capacity I needed it to for granted.
And then I got sick.
The best way I can describe my health since my Whipple surgery (you can read about that here) is that I live most days as if I have a bad stomach flu. It's been almost 8 months since my surgery and for some or all of just about every day since my surgery I experience extreme fatigue (think "can't go up the stairs without help" kind of fatigue), being nauseous/sick to my stomach throughout the day and night (doing any kind of activity, including standing, for more than a few minutes usually brings on extreme nausea), occasional bouts of pancreatitis, and just general feeling-crappy-ness.
I know I'm painting a not-so-pretty picture here and the truth is, it isn't pretty most of the time, and it's certainly not the life I imagined for myself, especially at this age.
BUT - I still have "moments." A lot of them. I've been able to go to concerts, on walks with friends and the dogs, to movies, to bars (without the drinking, rather unfortunately), to celebrate birthdays and holidays with my friends and family, and generally still have a fun and happy life.
From the outside, my life looks pretty normal, good, and happy. And now, from the inside, I'm seeing it that way too.
Me, as in my body and my mind, have been through hell. I've had organs removed that drastically change the way my body functions. My abdomen and the organs that inhabit it were basically taken apart and put back together, but with some pieces missing.
OF COURSE that's going to be difficult.
But even after all of that, my body continues to WORK.
It still tells me when I'm hungry, when I'm tired (okay - a lot more often now than it used to be); it carries me, literally, through every day and has never "given up," when I'm sure with what it's gone through, a body would want to!
But no, my heart keeps on ticking and my brain and lungs and other remaining organs work for me to the very best of their ability. That is LUCKY! I don't care what anyone says - to be alive at all is lucky. It's a gift.
And who am I to criticize a body that's been through hell and back? Who are any of us to criticize bodies that do their best for us every day and allow us to show up to our lives and have those "moments?"
It's so easy to be harsh about our own bodies and to pick on any little detail you think isn't perfect (the reason we think we're imperfect is because we constantly compare ourselves to models, or whoever society tries to tell us is perfect).
We pick out these little details that make us, US - and agonize over them instead of looking in the mirror and yelling, "DAMN GIRL!!!!! Looking GOOD!" I mean, random guys in cars can drive past us and point out how hot we are, but we can't do it for ourselves?!
I'm working really hard on loving myself and my body exactly how it is now. My scar, flat butt, cellulite, all of it.
I'm learning that loving my body means loving it no matter what it looks like; loving it for just being there at all.
Your love for yourself, for your body, should be UNCONDITIONAL.
Our skin is a shell that holds all our juicy and bony bits in. What did your skin ever do to deserve you cursing at it or wanting it to be different?
Your body is inherently awesome; I know that without ever meeting you or seeing your body. Its very existence is a miracle, and this vessel that carries our souls through the world is worthy of celebration - not criticism.
It may have taken a life-altering event for me to fully realize all of this (I'm still in the process of realizing it, actually), but it doesn't have to for you.
Your body, your thighs, your tummy, your arms - all of it - are good how they are. If you want to make changes do it from a place of loving yourself rather than a place of punishing yourself or being angry at your body.
THANK your body each day for doing what it does and let that gratitude sink into you like butter on toast.
You're so, so, so good how you are and you're already worthy of all the love in the world.
I know, I know, this essay is reading like a Hallmark card, but I really want someone who needs to read this to come across it and feel better about themselves and cultivate gratitude for their amazing body. I need the reminder, too. If you're already on that path, that's fucking awesome. Keep going. But a lot of us are still trying to get there.
I hope this summer, for example, when you put on your bathing suit you can celebrate that body in that bathing suit for all that it does for you, rather than curse at it for not looking how you think it should.
Life is so much more fun that way!
I'd like to open this conversation up and hear what loving yourself really means to you, because I know it can be different for everyone. Please comment below if you're so inclined.
XO - C