I have been thinking about this for some time. I am in the process of renegotiating my relationship with my body.
I have had significant weight loss and am in a weight range I haven't seen since before my daughter was born. That is (deleted) years ago! I am not the same person when I look into the mirror. I think women will understand it when they think of getting their hair changed significantly. From long to short, curly to straight, straight to curly...suddenly you look in the mirror and it isn't you any more. That is kind of where I am at right now.
Monday, I went into the clothing swap because ALL my clothes fit like doo-doo. The ladies there asked me to leave the clothing that I was wearing and "forced" me to try on pants in a size that I never ever would've thought I was. Even thought my body is now a size 10-ish, my brain was several sizes away. Looking into the mirror and seeing clothes that fit my body, that were actually clinging, was a significant milestone. I did not know myself. I am still reeling from it.
Oh, there are also a couple odds and ends that pop up that are totally weird. Women will know this and perhaps men will also, but when you lose weight, fat goes away in the breast area too! OK. I am not overly well-endowed so I would've preferred to keep that fat. And when you aren't plumped up, parts that may not be as toned are not covered up. So it is easier to see the flaws in some ways. True confession.
I am still wondering where all of this will lead me. How much weight I will lose. It isn't about weight loss. I'll say that again...IT ISN'T ABOUT WEIGHT LOSS, it is about discovering who I used to be, remembering that person, and pulling her back into the present. It is about a life. My daughter asked me how this got this far out of control. My answer is that I stopped trusting my body. A few significant factors came into play:
- I was diagnosed as hypothyroid in college when I was 19. I had a significant weight gain then but then a rapid dropping of about 10 pounds of it after I was put on medication. Oh and untreated (or mistreated) hypothyroidism can lead to horrendous things in the joints like thyroid induced rheumatoid arthritis and tendonitis. None of these are fun.
- Physical injury. The primary one being a torn tendon in my left ankle.
Being hypothyroid and having no medical insurance and working at entry level jobs, I can bet you can guess how well I took care of that! Not so much. Again, I gained some weight. After I got married, being hypothyroid and pregnant did not mix well. Estrogen blocks the uptake of synthroid. Piffle. I doubled my dose but my weight gain far exceeded normal weight gain. And my fatigue was atrocious. So do this twice and you have a confused body.
When I finally decided to do something about it, I was on a diet plan that had a lot of soy in it. Guess what? Soy also blocks the uptake of synthroid.* So although I was really getting to a healthier size for me, my body was losing its mind. Bad things were happening all the way around. So since I didn't learn how to eat properly with food that I normally have, when I gave up soy, I went back up and then some. Then I had surgery on my ankle. I've been struggling with RSI. A whole host of bodily malfunctions and disorders. I finally decided that my body was not meant to be healthy.
When did that begin to change? I have to say that when I went to a retreat led by Christine Valters Paintner, PhD and Betsey Beckman. Betsey led us in some body movement exercises and I discovered how much I love to move again. How much my spirituality is embedded in my body. Through body movement work, I was able to finally fully grieve the loss of my mother. It was amazing and astounding. I love these two women for the gift they gave me. They gave me my mom back and they gve me my body back.
After that, doing work in liberation theology in which we examine the fallacy of the mind-body-spirit SPLIT, it was done. So much harm is done when we separate our rationality from our body. When we are using rationality only, we can justify evils such as slavery. When we are connected to our body, it becomes much harder to do harm to other bodies. I worked with a fabulous group to present a Theology of the Body that is just amazing. Perhaps someday I will share it. This is ground-breaking work. Regarding women's bodies, fat bodies, elder's bodies, there are no other groups where it is okay to make fun of their bodies explicitly. There is this hideous song that has lyrics to the effect that ugly girls are good because with alcohol you can sleep with them. That is a current song lyric. An older song lyric would be the Too Fat Polka. It is nothing new. Fat, ugly, old. We can make fun of it and get away with it. As long as there is a laugh.
Anyway, to make a long story longer, all of these elements together have healed the rift I had with my body. BUT my intellect and emotions and body had not quite gotten in sync. This week it all came to the fore when I was forced to see myself as the ladies at the clothing swap saw me. My body image was not the equivalent of reality. I suspect I will struggle with this for quite a while. It is all a part of renegotiating my relationship with myself.