Updated: Nov 15, 2018
Part of the healing journey involves talking to people about my own prior beliefs or limitations. However, moments when I share some of my deeper, darker, more embarrassing wounds – like where I was insecure, chubby, totally awkward, and in general lacked any bit of self-confidence, sometimes people look at me like I have three heads. This look is typically from the women (but not always) and it suggests that I have no room to say that I’ve struggled with insecurity, lack of self-confidence and my weight for what seems like most of my life. However, this insecurity that I wasn’t enough on so many levels shaped so much of who I was, I can’t help but share it.
The picture at the beginning of the blog shows me in late elementary school. And it may surprise some of you, that even when I became grown woman, this is what I used to look like in my mind most times. I was the chubby girl, who looked like a boy and had to wear the husky pants from Sears. I developed too earlier into a family that did not really celebrate women’s curves or really anything that made you different from the rest of the pack. I was already the odd one out with my older sisters and my appearance was no different. They could usually wear each other’s clothes, shit – even my feet were bigger than theirs. And, inevitably, in a family that learned to verbally abuse each other when we were upset, where do you think they went with their jabs? Yep, that’s right, the fat card. So, for almost half of my life I heard how fat, ugly, and awkward I was. This was also carried over into my school days where I was made fun of for how I looked and probably a few other choice things that we won’t go into here.
But, you get the picture….For a number of years all I heard was how my looks just didn’t stack up. I wasn’t attractive or even “right” on some basic level. In fact, I heard it so much that I adopted it for my own internal dialect. Knowing what I know now about how words and environments shape us, it should come as no surprise to me that I grew into a woman who did not like the way she looked. It didn’t matter that as I got older and started taking care of myself, I thinned out a bit and was able to grow out my hair. However, even as the outside changed, I still thought of myself as that chubby, awkward girl from my childhood.
Like many other things, my looks fell nice and tidy under my perfectionism disease, where I (like most women) felt like I had to look a certain way to be attractive. I used to look at other women and feel this incredible desire to be like them. I thought other women loved themselves in a way that I felt I never could. I wanted to feel secure and confident, to love the way I looked. But I always seemed to feel this lack and my shortcomings were just reaffirmed from the constant stream of outside stimuli. This didn’t stop in my immediate surroundings but was also reinforced by the constant bombardment from society, media, men, but worst of all – the cycle continued with other women. Unfortunately, as we know, women can be each other’s worst critics, judging other women on their looks in a merciless manner. I know most women can relate to me when is say that the worst snub you can receive is actually from other women. Since we are all irrevocably connected, another woman snubbing you is like having some very deep part of yourself tell you you’re not enough. As you can imagine, these can become some pretty difficult beliefs to dig up and overcome.
I think it started to change about 9 years ago when I began going to Bikram yoga. If none of you have done Bikram yoga, it’s what I lovingly refer to as Nazi yoga. It’s very structured, with the same 26 postures each class ,done in a room heated to about 105 degrees. You stand for the first half of the series, staring at yourself in these mirrors that line the front of the studio. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, just you and the freaking mirror. Oh, and these flexible ass, beautiful women surrounding you, wearing next to nothing, making the postures look like they were going for a walk on a cool, spring day. Well, maybe not that easy but pretty damn close. And, as is that wasn't enough for me to overcome walking into that room, I also had to overcome my physical limitations. I found yoga because I had to have a hip replacement at the ripe old age of 29. Yes, a total hip replacement.
For a long while, every time i practiced, I felt like everyone else could see and was taking note of how shitty I was at the postures. And when my yogic performance wasn’t the source of their judgments, they could see and were taking constant inventory of how big my butt, or my thighs, or my stomach was, how weird I was because of the giant scar down my right hip. At that time, I really had no idea that people typically don’t give a crap about what other people are doing in yoga. But at times, some part of me, standing in this hot ass room with all my insecurities under a spot light, I thought people were secretly heckling. Yes, I know, the human brain is a crazy thing, because just like me they were probably focused on surviving the heat and not croaking. Over the eight years that I did Bikram, I found a transformation of myself and how I felt, and this translated to loving myself just a little bit more. I was even shocked when a few of the people that had been doing it for a long time would make comments about how I was killing it in class. ME???????? What have ya’ll been smoking? Maybe that was the beginning of me realizing that as people we don’t see ourselves as others do and also just how hard I used to be on myself.
At some point, I began a natural progression towards more gentle forms of yoga. I think that as I became more gentle and compassionate with myself I also craved that outward reflection. I started doing Yin, Vinyasa, Kundalini, and Ashtanga. I started to notice, they were yoga styles that actually allowed me to BE in my body for once. I think Bikram or hot yoga is wonderful, but for me there seemed to be a bit too much ego still involved it the practice. In hindsight, I believe this shift of styles is where part of the real magic started to happen. For the first time in my life, I was just enjoying how my body felt moving through the postures. I even started to smile to myself when I would fall out of a posture or when I just simply couldn’t do it because of the limitations with my hip. The old me used to get pissed off and frustrated with myself because I couldn’t hold a posture or even really get into it. Kinda defeats the purpose of yoga, huh?
The other really big shift that happened for me was gradual and I didn’t even notice it creep up on me. As I began to change the way I treated myself on a day to day basis, I began loving myself more. I also began to do some deep work and really look at and deal with a lot of the old beliefs I had. I slowly came to see many of these thoughts, feelings and emotions about who I was, were actually things I had inherited from other people. So here I am, almost 40 and I’m closer to loving and accepting myself than I’ve ever been in my life. I even try to love the insecure part of me, because whether I want her or not, she’s still part of me. I find myself being ME more and more and guess what – I’m pretty freaking awesome! I mean, in all of time and space, there has never been another me, EVER!!!!!!!! I’d say that makes me pretty cool. I still have my moments where I feel like I’m not enough, or I catch a feeling from another woman that makes me feel like I have a bugger on my eyelid or something, but for the most part, I’m just comfortable being me. And, I’m also more comfortable feeling the insecurity and knowing it is an emotion that will pass (if I’ll allow it to) and it doesn’t define me as a person. For someone who never thought she’d have or experience this, I am extremely grateful.