Ohhhh, the things people say. How we allow
their words to build us up or completely rip us to shreds.
These words...shredded me. I'm not sure they were meant to, but...they DID.
Here's the story:
I was meeting with a potential new student to answer
her questions about the studio and everything that we
have to offer. We discussed the different classes,
instructors, health coaching, and other healing arts
available. We identified her main goals (weight loss,
healthier lifestyle, become more active,
manage diabetes, etc.) and put an action plan together.
Things were going beautifully...all questions were
answered and we were wrapping up our meeting.
Then, out of no where, she says...
"I just don't understand. If you help me eat better and become more active, why don't
you? I mean, you seem to have all the knowledge. You teach a lot of classes. But, well,
My face turned into a furnace and butterflies flew from my belly to my throat and back
to my belly again. My mouth turned to cotton and I had to pick my chin up off the
floor. I stammered, stuttered as tears threatened to burn my eyes. Within the few
seconds it took me to regain my composure, she was gathering her things and headed
to the door. I simply thanked her for her time and escorted her out.
I was so angry. No, not just angry, I was Pissed. Pissed with her, with life, but mostly
Those old thoughts of how much I hate my body and the questions of why I bother
trying to be healthy when I remain "Fat", the self loathing and self shaming that used to
be my daily regimen, seeped back into my brain and my heart, Oh so deeply into my
heart. I was truly cut to the core.
Blinking back the tears and trying to hold in the sobs, I sat in my chair and fell into a big party of self pity.
"Why can't I weigh 120 pounds?", "What is wrong with me?", "I'm so ugly and
disgusting!", "Who do I think I am? Teaching yoga and trying to help others.", "I'm
not good enough!" ,"Why AM I so fat?", "No one really loves me.", "I am so alone.",
"Oh how I HATE myself."
And, while the tears and sobs faded, the feelings stayed...for weeks (Oh, who am I
kidding? The slimy residue is still here). I put on a brave face, smiled big and went on
with life. All the while, fighting back the anxiety churning in my stomach, doubting
every word that came out of my mouth, doubting my body with every asana practiced, doubting myself in every aspect of my life...again. I thought I had worked through all
this. I thought I had overcome most of this with only tiny traces popping up now and
again... But, it was back, again and with a vengeance.
So, after struggling with this for a few months, I've decided to share the story. Not to hurt this individual. Not to gain sympathy. Not for any other reason than...for insight. I'm sharing it for my insight. I'm sharing it to show myself (and hopefully some others) that it isn't fair to judge. It isn't right to "assume". It's not OK to belittle yourself because you don't "look" like a stereotypical (fill in the blank); yoga instructor, 41 year old, mom, wife, teacher, daughter or anything else that runs through our shaming little minds. It's not OK to fall into the hole of misery that those negative thoughts can bring. And MOST IMPORTANTLY, it is NOT ok to allow someone else's words to have that kind of impact!
We all have our challenges, some of us wallow in them, some of us ignore them, some fight them everyday. Well, here it is.
We all look different. We all speak different. We all act different. We all ARE different. It's time we stop falling in line with the stereotypical "ideals" that we are shown and told to believe.
The truth is, Health looks different on every BODY. It isn't a number on a scale or on a pair of pants. It's not a thickness or thinness of the body. It isn't an end result. It is an ongoing, ever changing journey that we must all choose to take. Health is about how I feel. I feel strong, stronger than I may appear to you. Strong physically, strong mentally and strong emotionally. I can keep up with my kids, I can go and do whatever activity I want and have the stamina to complete it. My body is MINE. It gives me challenges, needing surgeries, having hormone issues, and some days I feel better in it than others. I face challenges that you will never know about or understand (nor should you need too), BUT, my body is mine and it is the ONLY one I'll ever have. So, I'm going to take care of it. I'm going to honor it. I'm NOT going to give up on it! Just because I don't look the way some think I should, does NOT mean that I am not healthy or that I don't work to maintain my health. It does not mean that I do not have the knowledge and skills, after years of study, to help others on their journey. I will not allow the narrow vision and unreasonable expectations of some make me hate myself and doubt myself any longer. My body is Mine, not yours, and I am just where I should be, today.
Happiness is also a part of health. It isn't about how others perceive you and your life, it is about how you feel in your life. Can you be truly healthy if you are always unhappy? Can you be healthy when you carry judgement in your heart? Can you be truly healthy when you are always trying to live up to the standards of others? I can't answer for you, but my answer is No. No I cannot be healthy if I fall into these patterns. So, I'm stepping out of the rut, again. I'm sure I'll meet this rut in the future and I hope I am "healthy" enough then to step out of it, yet again.
Like I said, Health is a journey. It changes with age, with seasons, with life events. Hell, it changes by the day. It is a choice we each make over and over again.
Today, I choose health. I choose to take the words of another and learn from them. I choose to forgive these words so my heart can let go and join me on this journey. I choose to embrace happiness, love, life and continue the hike on this journey of health. I choose to be strong, I choose to be happy, I choose to release judgment. I choose to accept myself and never give up. I choose to accept my health, my strength, my happiness, my knowledge, my love, my courage, my challenges and my body. Others may think, I'm Fat, and, well...I choose to accept that too. Then, I'll let it go.