Some days I am really surprised by just how much I still hate my own body. Objectively I know that it isn’t even an unattractive one. It seems like people have complimented and enjoyed my appearance for my entire life. Yet I have never been able to accept my own image staring back at me in the mirror. It’s honestly impossible for me to even imagine being okay with myself. I have been counting calories, dieting, and despising my stomach since I was young enough to still call it “baby fat.”
Today as I moved through my yoga flow, it actually brought me to tears to realize how incapable I am of connecting with my core. I am only able to hold my awareness on those lower ab muscles for a few seconds before diverting my mind elsewhere. I feel such violent disgust and hatred for my belly that I’ve disassociated from it entirely. I find it terribly challenging to deepen my breath in any position other than lying flat on my back, because the expansion of my belly is repulsive to me. My breath stays shallow, high up in my chest. Even making the effort to deepen it brings me no peace as then I am overwhelmed with negative thoughts about myself. The ironic part is, because of that, no matter how many crunches or ab workouts I do, I can’t effect that area at all. The rest of my body’s muscles compensate because my brain has all but severed any connection with my midsection.
There have been many times in the past where I’ve tried to keep engagement and awareness in my core throughout the entire day. It is utterly impossible though. I end up tensing my lower-back and hip flexors instead. It is just too painful for me to notice my stomach for any significant amount of time. Even writing this down feels so pathetic and frustrating. It’s hard to even acknowledge.
Instead of softening and feeling compassion for myself, I hate myself for hating myself, as stupid as that sounds. I feel as though I am in an impossible position. I know that in order to ever have any hope of having a flatter stomach, I have to first accept myself so that I can consciously connect to and strengthen those muscles. However, this is an absolutely atrocious concept for me to even consider. I can feel my entire body tense at the thought. I begin to hold my breath. My heart seals closed.
I desperately want to love myself and feel okay in my own body. Even though I believe that everyone deserves that, somehow at the same time I still believe that I don’t. It truly makes me afraid of how I will be able to cope with the inevitable aging of my body. If I can’t love it when I’m young and healthy, what will happen to me when I am older, heavier, disabled, or ill? I am so utterly fed up with my fixation of my appearance. Of all the trillions of things in the world to focus on, I waste so much time and mental energy hating myself for something I clearly have little to no control over. Do other women feel this way? Is this the reason that my grandmother’s core muscles have actually atrophied over time? I don’t even know where to begin to address this issue.
The power of our own self-perception is staggering. It’s crazy to know that my own (possibly grossly distorted) self-image vastly outweighs what anyone else thinks about me. Despite all the people in my life that have told me I’m pretty or even sexy, never once have I truly believed them. If anything, my initial instinct is one of wonder and suspicion. Why would they say that to me? Are they just trying to be nice? Are they attempting to flatter and manipulate me? Occasionally, I even become angry by these kind of comments because I feel them to be blatant lies that I cannot comprehend.
I guess I’ll just try to visual that someday I’ll be able to love myself and my belly exactly how it is. Because right now, the idea is laughable and unimaginable to me. Then maybe once it doesn’t sound so ludicrous to see that as a possibility, I can work towards making it a reality. All I hope is that there comes a day where I don’t feel I have to avert my eyes each time I step in front of a full length mirror, a day where I can calmly observe my own reflection if not with love, than at least acceptance and an absence of desperate, frustrated tears.