Today's exercise is about what we are REALLY dissatisfied about. Because our sense of dissatisfaction isn't about our bodies, so what is it? I love this quote from Rosie:
It's about something else that has kept us from maintaining perspective about our perceived imperfections.
So, Rosie asks, if we accept our dissatisfaction is not about our bodies, then what is it really about? What part of our life could we address to add more of a sense of contentment?
Oh man! I didn't want to get to this stuff so soon! TOO HARD! Make a coffee, this is a looong post.
I have been writing and rewriting this post for days. DAYS! I kept coming back to my body. I don't know. I'm not sure I'm where this exercise wants me to be. Which disturbs my need to please...
The thing is, this makes me think that there must be something wrong with my life, you know, I hate my job or partner or whatever. But I have a great husband who is incredibly supportive, gorgeous kids, flexible, relatively fulfilling work life, great friends, supportive loving extended family… blah, blah, I'm pretty lucky, privilaged. What the hell am I whining about???
Some of the stories that people write about online, they are living so much harder lives than mine. People with terrible, harrowing childhoods, no support from family, living with disadvantage or mental illness. Yet they keep going. What right do I have to whine about feeling bad about myself?! The lovely Katie P wrote a great post about this while I was struggling with this.
So, then I think, I have no idea what it could be about if it isn't about my body?! I HAVE NO IDEA!
This is why it has taken so long for me to write this post. Every time I try to think about how it isn't about my body, I kept coming back to it being about my body. I know I have always used restriction as a way to distract me, as a way to cope with worry and anxiety and a sense of lack of control. Like for instance, I'm terrified about money at the moment, I would LOVE to distract myself by planning a new diet, i would LOVE to organise the food, plan out when I will be at my 'goal', I would love to start busying myself fantasising about my 'new life' that was on it's way! But I don't diet any more so...
There is power in beauty, not everyone wants to admit that but it's true. People are effected by beauty, they change their behaviour, beauty changes their reactions and thoughts. I have seen it over and over, I have experienced it. Haven't we all when encountering an amazingly beautiful person?
When I feel beautiful, I also get a feeling of power, of being in control. I loved when I was skinny that I felt, 'put together', protected, bullet proof. I loved sitting down without tugging at my top. I loved that other women were jealous of my shape, my weight loss, my control.
When I am fat (like now) I feel like all my issues, pain and bullshit are stuck to my body for all to see. I feel undone, vulnerable, exposed. I am waiting for rejection. I feel out of place and already out of the group before I've even said anything.
For me, there is something in that bullshit line of 'she's let herself go'. Like everyone can see all my failures. And in reality, when you are fat, everyone feels quite OK about telling you about it and what they think of it. So my body IS then an issue. My nightmare of 'people noticing me and what I look like' comes true when I'm fat like it never does when I'm skinny.
I don't really care about what I look like at home. I don't sit on the sofa worrying about my appearance. I don't worry with my husband (mostly) or my sister or Mum.
Ok, so you're wondering exactly when I have an issue with my body??
Well, pretty much if I have to be in public.
I have suffered from agoraphobia, generalised anxiety disorder and depression for most of my life. It started as a child from the bullying in primary school and got worse (along with the bullying), much worse, in high school, to the point that I wouldn't walk down the street alone. It literally took me years to get to a point where I would feel ok going to anywhere publicly on my own. I was suicidal during this time and felt very trapped and fearful.
My Mother actually saved my life by pulling me out of that school and putting me into a vastly better, more friendly school, that allowed me to be myself more. However the issues from that time still echo through my being.
Many of the issues I had then I still have. Back then we dealt with my fears and anxiety by trying to help me with my issues, I was tormented by my looks and clothes by the girls at school so, I (and my poor long suffering Mother) was on the constant search for an outfit that would make me feel 'better'. I would find something that would work for that occasions, but it wouldn't work for the next.
I STILL DO THIS!!!! If not in the shops, then in my wardrobe.
I have terrible anxiety and fear before most social occasions, hell, before having to pick my kids up from school! I obsess on what I look like, my clothes mainly, what everyone else looks like. Depending on the situation I will be mildly anxious, through to panic fuelled raging horrors and desperate to try and get out of going. I cancel often. I find once I'm there, I'm mostly ok, but often I will just not be able to enjoy myself, I'll feel too self conscious and separate from it all. I worry constantly about what I'm looking like, pulling at my top, sucking in my gut, ugh, horrible. If I do relax enough to enjoy it I then spend the next week or more deconstructing it, thinking, 'did I say the wrong thing?' or 'was I rude/thoughtless/selfish/obnoxious when I said that?'. That drives me crazy! I can really ruin a nice night out that way.
I feel that an enormous amount of these issues would go away if I was slim. (I know, I know, I can hear you shouting at me through the computer, but really!! I do!!) I would 'fit in' more. I wouldn't have to feel huge and out of place. I wouldn't be pulling at my clothes, I'd have clothes I actually like! I wouldn't have people giving me 'helpful' weight loss tips. I'd feel ok about eating in front of people. I'd have less panic before going to these things. I know these things would happen if I was slim because they DID happen when I was slim. Life WAS easier when I was slim. I loved picking an outfit to go to things in, I was thrilled to organise a huge party for my Dad's birthday and so on.
BUT! If it's all apparently not about my body (?!?!?!), then what is it? I am afraid of being singled out, excluded, picked on, noticed, not fitting in. I am afraid of feeling criticised, judged, disliked, ignored. And the reality is all of these things DO happen, to varying degrees, when you put yourself out there in any way. And I can't really control that. So, how I look is really the only way I can control it. I can't change how I behave, I can't change who I am, that's too hard to keep up over time...
But so is dieting to another shape...
So NOW what then?
To join me in this journalling adventure towards greater self acceptance, be sure to get Beautiful You: A Daily Guide to Radical Self-Acceptance by the magnificent Rosie Molinary.