Bodies, selves

(Next week it'll be all reader questions, and none of this week's self-indulgent navel gazing from me.)

I knew the body post would hit a nerve. I went to a women's college (the same one Enu went to, which is how we know each other even though we've never met IRL) and distinctly remember the first time I realized that everyone else I know there had the same feelings of inadequacy about her body that I did. And that the women who I thought had the most amazing bodies ever still felt like there were things wrong with them.

That's why I never post about what my actual weight/size is. Because it doesn't matter. I think a size 4 who used to be a 2 feels the same self-loathing that a size 28 who used to be a 20 does. Part of the conditioning is instilling the dysmorphia so that no matter what we look like we still think it isn't enough. Which makes the problem, at least for me, a two-parter: Stop hating my body is the first (and more important) part. The second part is make my body the best I can.

I had this big realization earlier today that I'm going to have a happy life. I've certainly put enough time and work into living a miserable mediocre life that if I can apply even a fraction of that to making good decisions and accepting love and grace, everything's going to work out. (I'm sure I'll still keep a healthy amount of my Lucy-in-the-chocolate-factory-ness, though. It seems to just be part of me.) So it behooves me to shake off this body loathing. Because what good is it to be exactly where you're supposed to be, doing what you're supposed to be doing, if you can't really let go because you hate your body?

I don't want anyone to misunderstand yesterday's post and think that I'm all "La la la--I loooove my stretchmarks!" But I think now I see my body truly as a work in progress. So I can look at it now and say "I look better now than I did in December, and I feel better, too." And that makes me think that today's feelings about my thighs are just another point on the line. That's something I had no sense of when I was 20. I thought what I had was what I had, and it was only going to get worse.

It's late and I'm stuffed full of delicious, delicious Thai food, so I may not do this next part justice, but here goes: Anonymous, I'm so sorry. And my initial reaction was that Bridget was being harsh and callous. But it's my suspicion that Bridget doesn't have the same experience with weight being a function of emotional issues that Anonymous and anonforthis and I do. If it's just gaining extra weight, then dieting and exercise are going to take it off, and Bridget's right--Just do it. And Enu's right, too, that people fall in love with the person, so often extra weight/baldness/whatever doesn't matter.

But sometimes it's way more complex. I realized that I gained weight after having my second son to hide and protect myself. (Other hiding mechanism: Clutter--I could hide in plain sight. That was a humdinger when I figured it out.) Which is why I felt so much better doing T-Tapp for a year, but never dropped any weight or changed my body at all. I needed to have that weight on to stay emotionally safe. The problem now is that just knowing why I put on that weight doesn't make it drop off--I'm still having to do the work. Sigh.

If Anonymous is in the middle of the horrible feelings, then it's not just as simple as losing the weight. Especially if a teeny part of her is so angry at her husband for his truly horrendous behavior (I have NO sympathy for turning her down to surf porn) that she's keeping the weight on to protect herself from him wanting her once she's thin again.

Any thoughts?