Other Stuff

Learning To Love Yourself

Last night I came across a photo that kind of took my breath away. Not in a “wow, this picture is amazing” way… more like a “holy crap, what have you done to yourself” way. I can’t scrub it from my mind today, and it’s making me feel uncomfortable in my own skin.

The picture I found was from a concert I was conducting in my first few years of teaching. At the time, I was still in my 20’s. I was quite curvy and svelte. (It was certainly during another round of Weight Watchers.) My hair was shiny and done up by one of my students. I was wearing a little black dress and little kitten heels. The students were focused, the Christmas trees were shimmering, and all looked right with the world. Looking back at it I realized, I was beautiful! Yet, I KNOW that I was really struggling with my self worth in those years.

Why is truly loving yourself so hard?

Over the last five to ten years, I have done a lot of work to learn to love the me I am right now. I have worked with a therapist to change my thought patterns and get down to the essentials of who I want to be. I’ve read books on body positivity. I’ve attended celebrations and seminars on body diversity. I’ve worn clothes that made me happy, whether the world thought they were “appropriate” for my body or not. I’ve walked the walk, talked the talk, took the pictures, and wrote the words. I have worked hard to create space for all people to be beautiful, just the way they are. I’ve championed beauty in all forms. And it wasn’t just lip service… it really made a difference, both for the people in my universe and for me.

But, let me be completely honest, I don’t like anything about myself right now. I am horrified at how extremely hypocritical that is, coming from someone who tries to champion body positivity, but it’s just reality. I am 45 and my body is morphing and changing in ways I don’t recognize or enjoy. My fat is taking on new shapes. My grey hair is frizzy and unmanageable, I have age spots, itchy spots, skin tags, and all sorts of weird issues with my complexion. I am feeling the early stirrings of menopause and have menstrual cycles from hell. Clothes that used to make me feel powerful have little influence on my mood. My students think I am old, cranky, and matronly. It’s like my sparkle has been tarnished and dulled. I truly don’t recognize the woman staring back from the mirror anymore.

I really thought I had figured the game out. I felt good about myself, even when people told me I shouldn’t. I was helping other people do the same. So, what happened?

The frustrating reality is… loving yourself isn’t a firm destination. It’s a journey, and with it comes the danger of traveling a long and winding road. Sometimes everything is smooth and comfortable, with beautiful scenery. Sometimes things break down, and it rains really hard, and everything is crap! THIS is one of those times. Somehow, I have to find the strength to pull myself out of the ditch, repair what’s broken, and continue on. I’m just not sure how to do that right now.

I don’t want to remain uncomfortable in my own skin. I don’t want to give up. I have to keep reminding myself that even if it doesn’t feel like it, I am still beautiful. I am still worthy. I still matter.

2 thoughts on “Learning To Love Yourself”

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