the body seen

We live in a youth-obsessed culture that is constantly trying to tell us that if we are not young, and we’re not glowing, and we’re not hot, that we don’t matter. I refuse to let a system or a culture or a distorted view of reality tell me that I don’t matter. I know that only by owning who and what you are can you start to step into the fullness of life. Every year should be teaching us all something valuable. Whether you get the lesson is really up to you.
— oprah winfrey

I am fifty-two and things they are a-changing and I am trying to be OK with that. I am trying to accept what I cannot change and change what I can and be very, very clear on the difference between the two. 

I am looking into the mirror and paying attention, seeing myself for the first time in a long time. My home has few mirrors because I have avoided mirrors. I have told myself that I didn't want the focus to be on the outward of me when the inward of me is what really matters. I haven't had a full body mirror ... ever. I didn't have to see myself because I chose not to see myself. 

I wasn't allowing myself to exist, to be real, to be worthy of being seen. Though I am an advocate for realistic beauty standards and body love, I haven't been opening my eyes to myself. Without a mirror, I could be whoever I wanted to be in my mind. Maybe that is not such a bad thing but I am discovering that I have ignored my body into non-existence. I've created a hostile environment by sending the message that I prefer she stay hidden. I prefer to not know how she is changing. I prefer not to see her and love her just as she is. 

My body has been speaking to me. She entered into a very loud rebellion last year when I began to lose the sensations in my hands to constant prickling and numbness, when I began to lose my ability to grip things. I was terrified that I was losing my strength and dexterity in my hands just when I had discovered art making as my love. My healing journey has brought me closer to my body, to paying attention. With acupuncture and massage therapy, I have improved. Some of the symptoms have returned in the last month. There is more work to be done. 

The first time my massage therapist touched me, I began to weep. I was forced to acknowledge this body, to see her, hear her, honor her ... to say, she is real. The healing has been more than physical. Emotionally, mentally, spiritually, I am growing. As I have been healing the connection between my body, my mind, and my soul, I've longed to be seen. To see myself. The mirrors return and I take photos of more than just my face. 

I look into the mirror and I am a bit shocked. I haven't seen that belly for what is is. I've imagined it smaller, flatter ... more acceptable. I haven't seen the breasts that are beginning to rest lower. I haven't seen the rolls and bumps and spilling over. My mind begins to judge, to criticize, to admonish, to shame me back into hiding. My soul says, "We need to be here together ... body, mind, and soul. We need to create a safe place to find complete acceptance of one another." 

As much as I want to say that I don't care, I do. I want to be cute in my clothes and sexy. I want to feel that my outside matches my inside. I want to love this body unconditionally and celebrate who she is. 

Here is where the love poem should be. All the words that I want to say to and about my body, declaring how amazing she is. I am barely there though. This voice of love is but a whisper but it is growing. Sometime the words are difficult to find and nurture so I'm beginning with the visual, with allowing myself to see and to be seen. I'll be writing more about it and sharing in real-time on Instagram with #thebodyseen. Join me?