Lets talk about body image, body positivity, and all things that we as women (and men) struggle with when it comes to the skin we live in — our beautiful vessel. I know I’m not alone when it comes to body image but I wanted to share something that exposes me, my thoughts, and parts of my past. I hope that if you are someone that is going through (or has gone through something similar) the same up and journey as me that you find comfort that you are not alone and I stand with you.
** I just want to say this before you keep reading; there might be some trigger words in this post when it comes to abuse, eating disorders, and body talk. If you are someone who is currently struggling and / or in recovering… please be cautious and take care of you first — this post will be here in the future whenever (if ever) you are ready to read. **
I am a 33 year old woman who, for the majority of my life, has struggle deeply with their body. I have struggle with loving this vessel, with giving proper consent, with treating it respectfully, feeding it on time or consistently, and with using kind words to describe this body. I dream of the day that I wake up and just love the skin that I am in; with all it’s perfectly perfect imperfections, all the things that it has done and continues to do for me. It’s a struggle, you guys — a painful type of struggle.
Most of you may know this by now (but won’t get too deep into it today); I am a childhood sexual abuse survivor, rape survivor, and suicide attempt survivor. I’ve never been professionally diagnosed with an eating disorder, but, about two years ago an old friend had mentioned (on a numerous occasions) how surprise they were that I didn't suffer from some type of eating disorder since I was sexually abuse. Now, I don’t blame this person or whatever was said because this wasn’t the first time I had heard this…unfortunately, I was unawarely knee deep in PTSD (was diagnosed with late on set PTSD a few months later), and everything and anything was extremely triggering for me.
Again, I was never given a professional diagnoses but my therapist (roughly 8-9 months ago) did mention that I was expressing warning signs, and it has been something I have been working on daily. My whole life I have been an intuitive eater; I eat what I want, when I want, and I don’t allow myself to feel guilty for it. I’m slowly getting there again — I give my body what it craves and I try to be gentle with my thoughts. My uphill battle right now is consistently eating and nourishing my body…but, I sometimes blame it being a mom.
I debated on posting this picture and expressing my own struggle with body image and self-love because to be totally transparent, when I have posted a photo or expressed my distaste for my body or talked about working out… I was guilted and what felt like shame towards my feelings. I don’t think people ever meant to be malicious, brash, or mean but having people constantly tell you “people would kill for you body” or “you have no idea how lucky you are to bounce back the way you have after a baby/s” kind wears you down, makes you feel guilty, and makes you want to hide. But I have to remember, just like I tell others about their feelings and / or journeys, my feelings are my feelings and they hold value and they mean something, and most importantly — I’m allowed to share them and go through what I’m going through.
My relationship with my body has never been healthy. I was a swimmer for 15+ years, I did synchronize, played water-polo, played soccer, and ran track. I was a pretty active kid, teen, and young adult. And even when my body was “right and tight” — I was unhappy. I never felt like I owned the rights to my own body. In my early adult life I got really sick…I was in a very psychologically abusive relationship and was spread thin with stress, anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts (and attempts) that I was literally going to the bathroom every time I ate. That summer I lost roughly 30lbs in a span of 3 months — I was at 87lbs the last time I weighed myself before getting better (and dumping the loser). That was a hard summer… I slept a lot that summer.
Now, before I say anything else… please know this, I KNOW how blessed / lucky I am that I have gotten pregnant (3 times) and have birthed two of them. I struggle with fertility and it not being this easy peasy thing when it comes to pregnancy, but still… I have two beautiful, wild boys. So with that being said, the pressures that society and other individuals place on mothers to be back on their body grind is absolutely ridiculous, but, we all (most) fall victim to it and beat ourselves up after we have kid/s. I know fell into that trap of rejoicing when I bounced back with my first and then falling into a state of sadness over not bouncing back as fast with my second and feeling anger because I was gifted some belly stretch-marks.
** screams internally **
I have tried to heal in different ways throughout the years — whether that being getting tattooed because for me that was giving consent to someone in an intimate way, saying no to being touched or held and not feeling guilty / shame over it, or find ways to dig deeper inward in order to feel like my body was my own. My most recent and life changing journey has been yoga teacher training. I have only been in YTT for three months and I already see such a huge difference in the way that I treat my body, speak to my body, or the way I move it…but most importantly, how it makes me feel like my body is mine.
I’ll say it again — I dream of the day that I truly love my body (physically and emotionally) and parts of me feels like I’m right there on the edge of full acceptance. We are all beautiful humans and someone special said a very profound thing to me about two weeks ago — we are so much more than our physical bodies. So be kind to yourself, and know that you are loved and that you are worthy of love and acceptance.
Photos taken by Bethany