I love this photo.

I have never said that about a photo of myself. Ever. I love it because I’m learning to finally love the whole person in it. I didn’t share it to get everyone to “like” it or tell me it’s great. I shared it because for me, it’s an act for resistance. It’s flipping the bird to lies that have kept me tangled up for years.

I’ve been at war with my own body for as long as I can recall.

Over the last 3 years or so, I’ve been trying to undo a lifetime of damaging negativity that’s been heaped on to her. I’m not sure how it happened, but as I grew up, I started to let the messages in that my body was a problem. I needed to keep it covered because it would “be a stumbling block” (thanks, toxic versions of Christianity) I learned that it was dangerous to be in this body because it was unsafe to be a woman in this world. I learned that my body, my appearance, was what defined me and was the total container for my worth as a woman – as a human. That’s what the messages we receive from all around us, all directions, told me. Comparison and shame became the driving forces and I had a continuous feeling of not measuring up when it came to how I looked. How was I gonna survive this world if my main form of currency wasn’t enough?

I was objectified, and I learned to objectify myself. I totally bought in.

So, the constant narrative in my brain began to sound something like this: “too thin, too tall, too big, well, actually, this part should be bigger, but that part should be smaller, I need to fix my teeth, my skin is too freckled, too wrinkled, too much cellulite, too much muscle….” On and on and on.

(I have a sneaking suspicion you understand.)

So, I moved out of my home. I existed somewhere outside of myself for years. My body was a thing to be contended with, fixed, punished, painted, starved, neglected…but thankfully she didn’t leave me. She still breathed in and out. She still grew and held babies, played guitars, sang, ran, danced. She stayed even though I left her. As I’ve come to discover how I got to this place, I’ve felt angry. For myself, and for all of us who’ve believed a story that our bodies were something other than our very selves. They are US. We are our bodies, and our bodies are good. YOUR BODY IS GOOD AND HOLY AND BEAUTIFUL. Hard stop. Including those glorious bodies out there that are in a place of flux or transition.

These days, I’m learning to listen to her. This body of mine is so full of wisdom. She knows what we both need and she’s constantly communicating. I’m trying to pay attention, to listen and be grateful she’s still speaking.

She wants me to come home, so I am.

I’ve been slowly moving back in, a bit more each day. Clearing out the old thought patterns and habits to make room for something new. Maybe you can consider a new conversation with your body? My hope in saying things like this “out loud” is that there would be a tiny spark for a new way of seeing ourselves and it would help give some compassion for the invisible struggles we’re all having. Tell the old stories to eff off today if you feel like it. Get quiet, listen to yourself and wage war. I wonder what we could all accomplish if we redirected the energy we spend embroiled in our negative body image spirals? I wonder how much joy and love we might experience if we could see ourselves as beautiful and whole as we are?

It’s not easy, it’s war. But it’s worth it.

Your body is amazing and loves you very much.

So do I.