July 5, 2012

My Body (It's Complicated)

What is my relationship with my own body? Honest answer: it's complicated. Sometimes I'm gentle with and nurturing of my body. Other times I punish my body with workouts. Sometimes I truly listen to my body and take a break. Other times I send loathsome messages to my belly. It's back and forth and day to day. But there are many more days when I'm gentle and kind. And every night, without fail, I massage my feet (with deep gratitude) before bed. I'm exceptionally thankful for everything my body does for me. And yet (sigh).

During this week's Inner-Excavation read-along, Liz encourages us to take self-portraits, and to be especially present with our bodies; see our bodies, write about our bodies, BE in our bodies. I've done much self-portraiture in the last 6 months. After some initial discomfort, I now find it a freeing, creative process. So I mindlessly dove into this week's activity: "I can do self portraits; this doesn't scare me; I've confronted all my demons; let's take some backyard snaps right now!"

I charged into the backyard, and was immediately self-conscious; my neighbor was outside doing yard work. But an answer quickly formed in my head: "You're beyond that, Joy. You're free. Just do your thing." (At this point I did not recognize the voice was ego, not authentic Joy. In fact, Joy was in a very tender space.) I took many self-timer photos and thought I enjoyed myself. Yet there was a nagging feeling of doubt. When I came inside to view the pictures, I saw myself as flabby, awkward, not attractive, and silly. I felt shame. I sobbed. Such is the complicated nature of my relationship with my body. I feel strong one day, and the next I feel like a bulging fake.

After the insights (and the crying), I felt much relief. And, once I became mindful, I was able to access gentleness and love for my body; and love for the core me (which is not my body). I set aside my inner-critic. I put on my favorite summer dress and my "Be Brave" necklace, and I went back outside. This time I let my inner-spirit guide the session. And in the post-processing I cropped the photos to show only parts of my body--and I made peace with them. In fact, I saw their deep beauty.

So what a wonderful reminder that we never wrap up all our issues; we never face all our demons. Actually, life is a spiral of inner-work, where we often revisit the same issues, but from a different perspective. And it's all okay.


  1. Hi Joy. I feel privileged to read your story. I can relate.

    Thank you so much for sharing where you're at. I face this paradox as well.

  2. thank you for sharing this. I'm working on all the paradoxes I feel about my body too. So far head and shoulder shots are what I can do, and I keep reminding myself that it's progress. There was a time even that would not have been possible!

  3. Beautiful words and images. Thank you for sharing them.

  4. Huge thanks for these understanding and supportive comments! I graciously accept your thanks for sharing and I thank you right back for your support.