I am falling in love with the curvy botticelli beauty I see when I look in the mirror.
This has been a surprise for me. As I mentioned in this interview with the amazing Christine of Blisschick, I’ve never really liked mirrors. Mostly I’ve regarded them as necessary evils that help me make sure I don’t embarrass myself too much in public. I’ve never been able to celebrate what they reveal to me.
But things are changing. This morning after my refreshing post-bike-ride shower, I stood in front of the full length mirror and realized there’d been a significant shift in the way I respond to that image. I like what I see. I’m fond of my curves, my flaws, and my jiggly bits. Sure they’re not perfect, but they’re me and they’re beautiful in their own way.
The last couple of months have been quite remarkable in what they’ve revealed to me. This post was about some of that learning – how I’ve begun to recognize how separated my mind/body/soul are.
As I was processing the answers to Christine’s questions, I realized that there was still some old baggage I was carrying around – stuff that was contributing to the disconnect.
Twenty-two years ago (exactly half my life, incidentally), I was in the best shape I’ve ever been. I was training for a triathlon, in which I would do the cycling (56 miles, I believe) and other teammates would do the running and swimming. I was tanned and muscular.
Unfortunately, two days before the race, an intruder broke into my apartment during the night and raped me. It was one of the most horrible moments of my life, and I’m just now realizing what long term impact it had on me. I was determined to still participate in the triathlon, and even drove out to the town where it was held. But my neck hurt too much (from the intruder’s attempt to choke me to death) and so I had to give it up.
I did a lot of healing after that, and I was pretty sure I did all the right things to process it. I wrote like a mad woman, talked to alot of people, and even wrote a play which was produced in my university’s theatre about the experience.
But what I’m realizing now is that most of the healing I did was in my MIND and not my BODY. I didn’t really give my body sufficient space to process the hurt that she received at the hands of the rapist.
The year after the rape, I didn’t bike as much, and each year it became less and less of a priority. I immersed myself in my studies, my career, and (eventually) my life as a wife and mother. I spent a lot of energy trying to convince people I was smart and capable. I took on more and more leadership roles, and let my mind play centre stage in my life. I didn’t realize that to live fully, I’d need to give my body space once again. I buried the body hurt beneath layers of food and fat and avoidance.
About seven years ago, I started biking on a regular basis again, and was reminded of how good it feels to pedal, with the sun on my face and the wind in my hair. It was good – but it still wasn’t everything I needed to do to reclaim the body I’d left behind 22 years ago.
This Spring, new things have been surfacing, and as I mentioned in this post, I’ve read some books that have opened doors in me that I didn’t realize I’d slammed shut 22 years ago. I have become awakened to the disconnect between body, mind, and soul.
Half way through answering Christine’s interview questions, I went to my bra-burning birthday party. I had some time to kill before I got there, so I wandered along the river. Leaning against a low stone wall, I had an epiphany. These are the words my body spoke to me… “Of all of my five senses, I trust the sense of touch the least.”
I’m still processing exactly what that means, but in the meantime, I’m doing my best to change it. I’m closing my eyes and running my hands gently over rough stone walls. I’m wrapping myself in the soft silk blanket I bought a few weeks ago and noticing the way it feels against my skin. I’m welcoming my husband’s carress in a new way.
One of most important things I’m doing is feeling the touch of my fingers on my own skin in a new way. I’m spending time lathering sweet-scented lotion all over my body. I’m enjoying my shower more.
When I catch my mind whispering lies to me, like “that athletic woman on the bike that just passed is probably surprised that someone with such a large ass is riding a bike”, I reach out and touch the offended part of my body in a non-verbal apology. (Try it! You might be surprised how good it feels, even if you have to sneak a touch in public.)
It’s all been quite healing, and now I can stand to look in the mirror in a new way.
Twenty two years ago, an intruder did more than just rape my body – his actions damaged my mind/body/soul connection, made me bury a whole lot of body hurt, and shattered the trust I place in my own sense of touch.
This summer – on my bicycle, in my weekend morning runs, in the way I connect with food – I’m working on healing those broken pieces. Like the song says in my last post, “I want to live where soul meets body”.