I've been avoiding this blog. Never prolific, my posts have become almost nonexistent. But, behind the scenes, I've been working hard, trying to figure this whole thing out. Since writing the post I published earlier today (I started it but forgot to hit the 'publish' button), I've kind of been working on the same set of issues.
For me, weight loss has never been as easy as "eat less/move more". Last year, when I was seeing my lovely nutritional counselor, she kept bringing me back to how judgemental I am of myself, my progress, my body, my weight. I never really got that -- to me, I was looking truthfully at myself and my actions. If those actions were "good", I was willing to acknowledge that and, if they were bad, I was bound to acknowledge that, too. I never really understood that what she meant was that I should remove ALL value judgements from this area of my life and my being. I should just observe and acknowledge, not "code" things as bad or good. That little revelation cost me a lot, mentally and emotionally. I'm still not there, but I'm trying.
Before my husband and I started dating, we used to go out as part of an "after work" crowd of young professionals. One evening, encouraged by Bulmer's cider, I was joking about my dateless state (.75 dates per year for the previous ten years) and saying that a huge part of the problem was that I had no clue if someone liked me. "You'd have to hit me upside the head with a two-by-four for me to pick up on someone's interest," I laughed. Months later, when he first asked me out, I was (adorably, of course) clueless. After several attempts to make it clear that he was actually asking me out, he looked at me sardonically and said, "Consider this your two-by-four."
Reader, I married him.
Well, at this stage, I think that God might be feeling a bit like my husband did on that occasion. I mean, how clueless can this girl be? God keeps hitting me over the head with multiple two-by-fours to get me to understand what he wants from me in regard to myself. I continue to perversely revel in self hatred. But it's complicated.
My perception of my body has never been simple or even utilitarian. Although I don't remember it, my first awareness of myself as a physical being was entwined with pain and loneliness. As I mentioned, premature babies born in the 1960s were kept in incubators and parents were not encouraged or allowed to touch or hold their children very much. My mother recently told me that, when I was in the hospital as a newborn, she didn't even feel like she had a baby because she saw me so seldom.
After I came home the first time, I went in and out of the hospital several times. I was in a brace for months and months before having major hip surgery and in a body cast for months afterwards. These crazy contraptions held my legs immoble and I didn't start to crawl until I was about eighteen months old. My first memory is crawling through the open doorway to our cellar and falling down the steps. I just couldn't figure out why my mother was standing in the open doorway of the cellar with her hands to her curlered and scarfed head, screaming, as I lay at the bottom on the soft dirt floor of the cellar. I knew I was fine. What was she so upset about?
Despite that rocky start, as a child I felt strong. I could run, hike, climb trees. I had a great gym teacher in elementary school, Mr. Ahrens, who specialized in making all his kids revel in moving their bodies. I remember spending one especially wonderful gym class jumping up and down to Three Dog Night's Joy to the World. It was great. Things were a little less great as I moved into middle school (and those gym teachers were NIGHTMARES who specialized in humiliating preteens and playing Boggle). As things became less and less great in that area, I became more and more invested in an image of myself that said "Can't/Don't/Won't". I wasn't athletic. I wasn't strong. I couldn't. I looked weird when I ran. I didn't like the way my body moved. I didn't want people to look at me.
Fast forward years and years and here I am. I'm not strong. I can't do what I want to do. Now I look weird when I WALK. I don't like the way my body looks. I don't want people to look at me or to see me. Hell, I don't even look at myself if I can help it.
Hmmmmm. That's some self hatred. That's some awful stuff. And through it all, God is telling me something different. Something really revolutionary. Something that I think is going to change my life. Really. Change. My. Life.
More on that tomorrow. :-)