When others discuss the body I mostly hear negative words and assault. Our society is overrun with body hatred. I know as well as anyone the effects of this self loathing. I understand how it can develop and the nasty hold it can have. What seems to be a mystery to me still, is where this all started in the first place.
Our bodies do the world for us, and as it seems their work makes up the bulk of our existence. Is a body itself, not what distinguishes us as being human? Without a frame what are we? A spirit, a mind, a soul? What is our mind capable of without a vessel in this physical world?
I’m sitting in a coffee shop and next to me are a couple of bike couriers…a career I’ve thought of at certain points in my life because in fact I already spend most of my time biking all over town. I think I’ve shied away from it because it might make me go slightly insane, not to mention the ongoing logical fear of getting hit by a car. I have the ultimate respect for those who use their bodies for work, and am in awe of the ease in which cyclists are able to handle their ride. I wonder if I was to have a conversation with them about their bodies, what they would say?
Thus this weeks post is on how we feel about ourselves and the things we think we need to feel good…The average North American I encounter has almost nothing but hatred and disdain for the very thing that keeps them moving. To me it’s a very sad thing. It negates the power that lies within loving that which gives us life as homo sapiens. Maybe mind and spirit are beyond this world. But at least in my small understanding of things a body is what grounds us to this earth and gives our human shape.
I could probably say a good majority I have spent hating my body. And I mean hate. There have been good chunks of time when I absolutely loathed it. I didn’t want any part of it, I did not feel comfortable in it, and all my mind seemed to be able to do, was tell me was how wrong it was. In turn I inflicted an unprecedented amount of pain and trauma upon it. My thoughts at the time were sick thoughts, they were connected to the part of myself that suffered from a mental illness. I can very easily recall the toxic sensation of body hate. The overwhelming sense that nothing is good enough, and all aspects of the physical self do not properly fit. It is a horrible, uncomfortable and severely damaging sensation.
Somehow, and I’ll be honest I’m not entirely sure how, I’ve turned these sensations around…I know a good majority of the turn was probably through therapy and counseling…in fact sometimes I joke, ‘I should be awarded an honorary psychology degree because I’ve done so much work on myself and gone through soooooo MUCH therapy.’
In my healing I decided that when I got into a place of body trashing I’d stop and think about it. What came about, was that I realized it wasn’t about, and still isn’t, about my body at all. When I was really sick I had the ‘picture perfect body’…lean muscle, thin figure, proportional distribution, and even a six pack…but I look back and feel as if it was all an illusion. No matter what I looked like, all I could see was ugly, all I understood was hate and all I felt was pain.
During recovery I started to gain weight, it was very difficult to not slip into old patterns of body trashing. For years I had used my body as a scape goat. Anytime something was wrong it was clearly because I was too fat, too ugly, too heavy, too too too. I had to work very hard to take the focus off the body and into where the real struggles where, the mind. I started uncovering the fact that my discomfort and hate where completely misplaced and had no business distracting me from the real issues. I think the understanding of it came from the realization that I had hated my body just as much if not more when I weighed less and had this apparently ‘perfect body’ (others words not mine), as when I weighed more and was no longer fit.
It was thus through rational thought, that I started to turn this beast around. I figured if I hated my body then and now, no matter its size, it couldn’t really be about the body at all. I realized that I’d had this ‘perfect body’, and even then I couldn’t appreciate it, didn’t want it and I couldn’t see it. I realized that it’s not about having something that makes us happy. It’s not about obtaining some goal that we’ve set out to do, because most of the time even if we do accomplish something, we reach that plateau and that’s all it is, is a plateau. In the end we have to climb back down that mountain and we are only changed if we look for it. Otherwise we are right back where started, looking up from the foothills.
Life is about the moment. It’s about living breath to breath. Having a certain amount of money, or beauty, or friends, or experiences are not what bring us joy. Joy is a choice. It is a perspective, and if you only choose to see its potential existing in the future, you will never experience it in the now.
From then on I decided to really question why I want the things I think I want. I started to analyze where my desires came from. Are they grounded in some semblance of balance and health, or are they fabricated in the likeness of disfunction, greed, jealousy, self loathing etc. I started to look at life less as a destination, and more as the moments in between.
I was talking to a good friend of mine the other day and they mentioned something they wanted in there life. This something upon hearing seemed to me very opposite to how I normally think of this them and their views and desires. It really got me thinking. It reminded of the time I had had something I thought I wanted and needed (the perfect body). It reminded me that even though at a certain point I’d had it, I was actually there, it didn’t make me a healthier, happier person. So really what was I striving for??
I know I find myself in this same trap my friend appeared to be in…wanting something that ultimately is more of an external desire as opposed to an internal need. I decided to ask them “And then what? Once you get where you think you want to be…then what?”…they thought about it and it seemed as if they really absorbed the question I posed. Then simply they repeated back to me “Then what?”….
So I ask you the question…when you reach your goals…when you get the things you want,…then what? Will you be happy? Will you be balanced? Will you be enlightened? And will you be CHANGED?
Please post your thoughts, ideas, questions, stories, comments!!! I wanna hear what you have to say. I want to hear where you’re at!