How many bodies can one girl have?
I’m going on a trip! South! I’m so excited! I get to escape the city! I get some sunshine! I get to spend time with an old friend! And he has a Y chromosome! (Just sayin’.)
While I am definitely looking forward to it (as you may have gathered by the number of exclamation points in that first paragraph), I was a little upset when I started packing. I had to go into my spring/summer stuff to find some things to bring with me. And when I was trying things on, I found that a lot of them don’t fit anymore.
It’s funny. It actually seems to be a Pavlovian reaction. Experience clothes not fitting, feel fat and get upset. But I have a commitment not to indulge in negative thoughts about my body. When I notice a thought about my body being ugly or not good enough, I stop having it. I cut it off. I have given up the right to disparage my body. I am already trained in being ashamed of it. I am retraining myself to love it.
What’s fascinating is that a lot of my dresses do still fit. (I only wear skirts and dresses in the summer. After 8-9 months of cold I don’t even want to look at a pair of pants from May to August!) And for the most part, my favorite dresses still look fantastic on me. Not passable, Fan-freaking-tastic! Which is such a blessing! I’m not dreading the thought of suffering in clothes that don’t fit, or worrying about having to buy a new summer wardrobe.
It’s my cheap, babysitting dresses that, for the most part, don’t fit anymore. The dresses I bought for between $8-$15, with big, bold prints, so that when a 2-year-old touches me with their ketchup hands, I don’t feel like a careless slob for the rest of the day. And I can live without those. I don’t have to mourn them.
But no matter what, putting on clothes that used to fit and don’t anymore is very confronting. It forced me to acknowledge the truth of my body. Again. On an even deeper level. But once I got over the part of me that wants to fight against the truth, and agreed to accept what is actually so, something interesting happened. I became aware of my body in ways I haven’t been since I started gaining this weight. Yes, I am decidedly bigger. I already knew that I gained at least 27 lbs, and apparently all in my ass. But more than that, I am an entirely different shape. I thought that my stomach was so much bigger, but it is really that my back arches now, pushing my butt back and my stomach forward. My weight distribution is different. The way I stand is different. Even how I hold my shoulders and neck is different.
Somebody asked me if my butt was always the first place I gained weight. But it’s not. I have never been this shape before in my life. Not when I was fat. Not when I was losing weight. Not the last time I weighed this much. This is a whole new body to me.
And a girlfriend pointed something out to me. She said that I am a whole new me. That this body is accompanying a new lifestyle. When I quit smoking, I did it because I wanted to grow up. And what I got was a whole new level of presence to life. When it comes down to it, this body is the direct result of being willing to become more present than I have ever been before. And then taking the action to do it.
It does not escape me, by the way, that I quit smoking to “grow up” and got a more womanly body.
At first, I was a little embarrassed (or maybe disappointed) that this body was going on the trip to see my old friend, instead of my skinny, size 6 body. But when my girlfriend said that to me, I realized that the girl who lived in that skinny, size 6 body would not have been available to go on this trip. Personally, emotionally, or spiritually. That this trip and this body are inextricably linked.
And then I had another epiphany of sorts. This is not going to happen less as I get older. It’s going to happen more. Menopause. Muscle loss. Slower and slower metabolism. It’s called aging. And it’s going to happen to me. (At least if I’m lucky.) So if I’d like to do it gracefully, now is probably the time to start practicing that grace. I’m a beautiful, healthy woman in a beautiful, healthy body. And even while I stay beautiful and healthy, it is going to keep changing.
I want to keep loving my body. And keep remembering that loving my body will keep it beautiful. In whatever shape or size it is in at any given moment.
And, by the way, my ass is actually pretty fantastic. Just so you know…