Looking God in the eye and remembering what’s none of my business, which is almost everything
So a friend read my blog for the first time the other day. He read “How the Kate got her stripes”. The one about my stretch marks. He texted me shortly afterwards and said that reading it made him feel like an intruder in my life. And that made me feel bad. It embarrassed me. I had to ask myself if I have been saying too much. Or too graphically. It made me wonder if I have crossed the line from intimacy to exhibitionism. TMI, if you will. Because making someone feel like an intruder is hardly warm and fuzzy. And it is definitely not the purpose of this blog.
It felt empowering for me to write openly and honestly about my body. It felt good to say that my body is not perfect, and that I love it anyway. It felt like a gift to write that, as beautiful and sexy as I am, I do not look like an underwear model. Because you probably don’t look like an underwear model either. Because as you probably know, if you don’t live under a rock, even underwear models don’t look like underwear models. (Even I know that and I practically do live under a rock. I am pathetically under-informed about most things cultural.)
But hearing from a friend, and maybe more significantly, a man, that this blog gave him an unpleasant feeling, jarred me. I write a blog about living with eating disorders because I want to feel like I’m giving honor to the truth. It is powerful for me because I hope it empowers others. I want to believe that sharing my experiences has some meaning for you, as well as for me.
And maybe it upset me because admitting that my body is flawed, flawed because I abused it, was hard for me. I was already worried that you would judge me. That you would think, “Ew. Gross.” And that “Ew. Gross.” would not be about a body. But about my body. That yucky feeling, that judgment, would be about me.
What I try to remember every day is that what other people think is none of my business. Not even what they think about me. The only thing that is my business is my relationship with God. And my relationship with God is solely based on my personal integrity. I have a phrase for it. Looking God in the eye.
When someone doesn’t like me, or is angry at me, or feels yucky because of me, I try to make a point of knowing why. Being the human that I am, I can, on occasion, be an asshole. Sometimes knowingly, sometimes unwittingly. If someone doesn’t like me because I behaved badly, crossed a boundary, made a mess of things, well then that’s a personal integrity issue. That’s between me and God. And I do my best to clean it up with that person. Because making my wrongs right with someone is actually between me and God as much as it is between me and them.
But plenty of times a person doesn’t like me (or something I did, or my blog) for reasons that have nothing to do with my integrity. And that’s between them and God. (Or them and life, or them and themselves, or however they choose to see it.) Some people don’t like me because I honor my own life first. Some people don’t like me because I’m happy. Some people don’t like my personality or my sense of humor. Some people don’t like me because I have boundaries around my food that I don’t cross for any person, place or thing. (That last one makes me laugh, because if you think you don’t like me with my food under control, you obviously don’t realize what an asshole I would be if I were eating compulsively again.) But I can’t be worried about those people. If I can look God in the eye, I’m golden.
I went back and read “How the Kate got her stripes”. It was honest. It came from a place of love and honor. It was not written to shock. I was not trying to shake you up, or make you uncomfortable. There was no agenda other than healing. If it did shake you up, or make you uncomfortable, I’m sorry. Because I do my best every day to bring love and happiness and peace into the world. But also, if it did, I can’t be responsible for that. That’s not between me and God. And frankly, like almost everything else in the entire world, it’s none of my business. When I ask myself if I can look God in the eye after posting it, I know I can.
So let’s get back to my friend. Because this works both ways, right? All he did was tell me the truth about how my post made him feel. And I didn’t like it. I got scared. I started to worry about the fact that I’m doing something that leaves me open to being judged. (Um…duh, Kate. You’re writing an intimate yet public blog about a divisive issue.) And those worries and fears are not between my friend and God. They are not his responsibility. That stuff is all mine.
Do I want you to like me? Of course I do. Do I want you to like this blog? I can’t even tell you how much. But I have to remember that I don’t write this blog to be liked. I write it because I feel called to tell the truth about my experiences as a woman with eating and body image disorders. And I can’t start catering to individual readers because their reaction made me feel ashamed or embarrassed. I have to keep telling my truth to the best of my ability. Because that’s between me and God too.