A follow up to my weight loss post (linked at the end of this one):
Last night after an Aurora Alert I wrapped a comforter around me to go outside and see if the clouds were clear enough to see the northern lights. They weren’t. So I went out to the back yard where I was buffeted by the wind. Wind has always been therapeutic for me - the stronger the better. Standing outside in the wind blows away the cobwebs of my mind, and helps me recenter. It was very dark as I wandered around and found myself next to the trampoline. “I’ll just sit on it and look up at the sky,” I thought. Well, (and picture this in a Lord of the Rings style meme) one does not simply sit on a trampoline. In no time I was bouncing. And then I was jumping. And then I Iet the wild woman free and I was jumping my heart out, laughing into the wind, the comforter flowing behind me like a cape to the Wonder Woman I am inside. I heard Luna woof a few times, and I assumed she was woofing concern at the mad woman who, by some cruel stroke of fate, had been entrusted with her care. So I said “One more big jump Luna!” I jumped as high as I could and felt the freedom of letting myself fall one more time to the safety of the trampoline. I gathered up my comforter cape and rolled off to find Luna, who was actually not concerned about my madness but was joining in - she had her bum up in the air and was down on her elbows staring at a big ball expectantly. So Luna and I enjoyed a game of ball before heading back inside, 2 mad women who had conquered the night and didn’t give an ounce of care for how they looked doing it.
The cobwebs I was clearing had to do with this photo. I have been plagued with comparison to this woman. Me, 10 years ago. But without the cobwebs, and with the light shining on the issue, I can more clearly see. That woman was in an unhappy marriage. She was riddled with guilt from the religious box she was in. She was thin and beautiful and healthy but thought she was still too heavy and plain looking. That woman was trapped in many ways, panicking inside like an animal in a cage. And like the trapped animal she was dangerously close to hurting herself.
THIS woman who is writing is free. I still have that dress and I do wish I had that body but I can get that back if I apply myself. What I’ve gained inside is worth SO much more than what I “lost” in physical appearance. I am free. I am in nobody’s mold.
Your comments and messages from my post were very insightful and encouraging. I didn't realize how many people were encouraged by my little journey. To me I’m not doing anything remarkable - I don’t think I’m being brave by living an unconventional life - I’m doing what I need to survive, to not be a caged animal. This is self preservation. This life is my frontier - conquering the wilds and unknown monsters of an ever unfolding landscape. It is also a mission to show the world that things like kindness and friendliness are still alive and well, around every corner.
In an unexpected turn, I have applied for the free Younique retreat for women who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse. (Thank you Joella for the link!) It will likely be a year or so before a spot is open for me but I’m happy to wait. Because as free as I feel, one thing I’ve learned with this sort of emotional trauma is that as you age, it affects you differently. And even though it can be painful and sad, it is healthy to revisit it from time to time. I think that later in life it becomes less about healing wounds and more about addressing the scar tissue.
On the subject of being single - The woman I am now is strong and independent. I do enjoy being in a relationship but I don't compromise now. I’m not desperate for a man - but if I meet the right one I know he will not just accept my strength and independence, he will love those things as defining qualities. I do not make changes to myself based on any man’s opinion of me.
As for the issue of weight - many of you encouraged me to stop trying to change, and while you were well meaning, this IS the time for changes. I’m not comparing myself to societal standards, or focusing on the scale. I’m focusing on the messages my body is sending me - I am carrying around a lot of extra weight, but much of it is in my stomach where it is well hidden under baggy shirts. Not only is that weight unhealthy, period, it is affecting my life - I don't want to struggle up mountains anymore because I can’t breathe. I don’t want to struggle to tie my shoes because my stomach is in the way. I don’t want to struggle with mental focus on a daily basis because my brain doesn’t have the nutrition and hydration it needs to be alert. And I have a feeling that healthier habits in general will clear up the headaches I get, the fatigue I feel, and the depression I fight. These are the reasons I want to get healthy. For me.
So after all of this reflection, I thought it was time to say goodbye to this woman and embrace the one I am now. But what I found while looking through old photos is that I saw the same woman shining through every one of them - happy is my natural state. Contrary to unfortunate popular belief, having bouts with depression does not mean you are an unhappy person! Not liking the way I look doesn’t mean I’m an unhappy person. Wanting to make some changes in life doesn't mean I’m an unhappy person. It just means I’m self aware and I’m tired of being complacent with this particular aspect of my life. Despite theses issues, despite not having a home of my own, despite financial struggles, I am the happiest I have ever been - and that tells me a lot. And I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the woman in the photo.
So I won’t say goodbye to this woman. Because she is still me. I will love her and nurture her, and honor what she was doing - she was being brave, she was surviving, she was putting one foot in front of the other, paving the way for me to be who I am now. She couldn’t love herself. 10 years later I struggle with the same thing but I’m much closer. And one thing my cobweb clearing, windy, nighttime trampoline session cleared up for me was that there isn’t a rush. One thing at a time. One act at a time. They will add up. Habits will form. I got up this morning and walked Luna, had a glass of water, stretched…little acts of love for me. I’m so glad I chose to be vulnerable with you all. As I anticipated, it was very freeing. My life is a gift, and I’m going to live it!