Good morning Shim Sham and our lovely readers! Bonjour! Bienvenidos! Willkommen!
Kay Jay here, and I would love to talk to you all about something that has fully burrowed itself into my core and my soul and I have never fully been able to quiet it. I have tried to meditate it away. I have done affirmations. I have read blogs (much like this one!) I have immersed myself in it and tried to will it to change.
And that is my self image surrounding my body.
Sometimes, to be honest, I hate it. HATE IT.
That’s an incredibly strong word, but it is entirely accurate. It’s hurtful, and it’s true. It’s cruel, and it is an honest sentiment. Negative body image. No matter how hard I work to try and change it, it remains deep down and rears it’s harmful thoughts and damaging feelings.
So what do I do?
Do I sit with those feelings until I can discern how to make them go away? Do I fight back with positive affirmations? Do I change my thinking about pretty vs ugly (to oversimplify for a moment) and just see my body as something that is? Is that even something that is POSSIBLE in our world of social media, instant clicks and likes?
I DON’T KNOW.
And that’s the worst part for me. Is no matter what I try, I keep coming back to the same place. I don’t always like my body, and sometimes I feel such a dark loathing for my appearance that it can throw off my entire day. WHICH I KNOW IS RIDICULOUS FOR SO MANY REASONS. I don’t want my life and the contributions I make to society to be boiled down to whether or not I can start an OnlyFans and an Instagram modeling page. (not that there’s anything wrong with doing that – but why do I equate that with good, healthy, and exultant?) I don’t want my accomplishments marred and tarnished by thoughts like, “If only my stomach didn’t hang over my jeans like that…”
And that is an all too common occurrence. I have something good happen and the thought emerges. “I wish I could finally lose this double chin.” I love my make up today but, “Ugh, my cheeks are looking bloated.” I am coordinated and feeling fierce but, “Oh no, my stomach is showing and that isn’t cute.”
It all goes back to the first time I remember my Mom asking me, “Doesn’t it bother you that your stomach hangs over your jeans like that?” And the time that some kids came up to me and pulled my shirt back to reveal that I was sucking in my stomach and I really had rolls under there in early middle school. Back to the time I looked in the mirror circa 5th/6th grade and noticed how round my face was, my double chin, my short legs and portly body (so-called.) The first time someone called me “Chubby” in high school and it really stung. Like, really stung.
Watching TV shows with “hot, muscular” men in them and thinking, “why doesn’t my body look like that?” at the age of FOURTEEN. I mean, what the hell? I barely survived coming out and leaving the Catholic church. I barely survived my conservative household where my identities had to remain secret, buried, and ignored. A household where I wasn’t allowed to be myself – a household where I wasn’t really able to ask for help because my pleas were scoffed at. “You don’t need a therapist -” Did body image issues need to be the cherry on top? REALLY?
So why does this happen? How do we break free from this cycle? I know I’m not alone. I have worked hard for so many years, changing my lifestyle, my eating habits, my thinking. I have given up things I love chasing the idea of a “perfect” body as if that were a paradigm that could be accurately and absolutely qualified. Just this morning I saw my reflection upon just waking up. My hair was a messy thatch of tangles and strange angles, my eyebrows not drawn on yet. And, having recently clean shaved, I can see my jaw line formed and lined out on the outsides but hidden beneath a soft extra layer of skin and fat that has been the shame of my existence for nearly two decades. And it made me sad. It hurt to see. All of that work spent loving my body, seeing it as it is and loving it – gone in an instant because of one thought. “I don’t like how that looks.” And it doesn’t embolden me to work harder, to push my body into shapes and force it to sweat more. It doesn’t make me want to eat less.
What hurts is that the thought is still there, and can still hold so much power over me. Learning to move on, to fight back against trauma (and this is truly the tip of my iceberg of trauma, to be perfectly clear and honest, folks) is an ugly and messy business. And these thoughts will continue to poison my mind, and my opinion of myself. They will live on, and I will still have to contend with them.
But I haven’t, and will not give up.
I do love myself, I really do. I have overcome so much more than I ever thought I could, and I continue to exceed my own expectations. (I also continue to disappoint and not meet expectations, because I keep moving the finish line too far away, but that’s another post.) I didn’t give in then, and I won’t do it now.
But today, it hurt. It was hard. I felt bad about myself. My body. I felt morally and physically repugnant. For only a moment. But a moment was all it took. And I want to say, “I WILL NOT FEEL THIS WAY ANYMORE.” But that isn’t reality. I WILL. I will continue to feel this way. As I continue the journey of wellness, of establishing my sense of self (as a queer, genderfluid, non-binary individual, an educator, a performer, etc.) I will have these moments of darkness that I will need to keep fighting back against.
And to anyone who has never experienced this sort of dark trauma spark, (of which I truly don’t believe that many exist) your responses matter. Learning to hear others and how their experiences have shaped their current realities can help you reshape yours. I have and will continue to do it every day. Something new is there to learn all the time. I want to help. And to anyone who is still struggling with these unwanted thoughts, traumas and past experiences, I want to be there to help. To help you, to help myself, to help others. I hope that this will become a community of people helping people to improve their wellness and their current state of being. In whatever ways that feels tangible, attainable, and GOOD.
I would love to hear anyone’s thoughts on this. Let’s just keep it civil, okay?
Anyway, there’s the beginning of my story – my journey to self-discovery and self-love which began so unceremoniously and I don’t believe will ever fully end. There’s so much more to share, but again that is for another post. I want to move through the rest of today, and the rest of this month, continuing to practice self-care and self-love, and continue to spiritually fulfill myself in ways that will aid in my positive growth.
WHO’S WITH ME?
❤ Kay Jay