Combating A Negative Self Image With Gratitude

Evelyn

Do you ever stare in the mirror and hate what you see?  Or do you avoid the mirror all together?  Do you poke and prod at your “problem areas” and focus on how badly you want to change them?  Do you find yourself wearing yoga pants and t-shirts all the time because you can’t stand the way you look in other clothes?

Listen, I’ve been there.  Not wanting to dress up because I was self-conscious about how I looked in my clothes.  Not wanting to go to parties because I was anxious about what I’d eat that would make me feel guilty later.  Comparing myself to other women. Staring at myself because I couldn’t believe my body looked the way it did. 

I was sad, embarrassed, ashamed, and full of self-doubt.

I will tell you without a shadow of a doubt that my body did not change until my mind did. Let me say this is as clearly as possible: You cannot hate yourself thin!  Loathing your image won’t bring you any positive results.  Staring at other women and wanting what they have won’t change what you have.  Pinching your “problem areas” won’t make them go away.  As a matter of fact, it only makes things worse.  The emotional cycle is horrible, crippling even.

This is not an easy topic to discuss.  Self-evaluation might possibly be the toughest, but most necessary, way for us to grow.  Every emotion, every reaction, every thought, every part of who we are, comes from somewhere.  Something we learned growing up.  Something we saw in others.  Something we learned to believe about ourselves.  Something our environment taught us. We are absolutely shaped by our thoughts.

I had to take small steps to start changing my thoughts.  I had to begin with gratitude.  Gratitude for the babies I had at home that many other women weren’t blessed with.  Gratitude for the body that carried them and me safely through two pregnancies.  Gratitude for the life I had, that I had always dreamt of.  It was only when I began to be kinder in my thoughts, that I could begin to make better choices for my body. 

I haven’t shared this story with many people in the past, but sharing it now feels like the right step in my journey of healing from the inside. You see, I always knew I wanted a family.  I wanted to be a mommy. But that didn’t come easily to my husband and me.  We talked about wanting to start “trying” and assumed that pregnancy would equal a child. But life had something else in mind. I had two miscarriages before I had my first beautiful little baby girl, my first miracle, Jayden.  Three years later Mia came along and completed our family. Our first loss was very early in my pregnancy.  The second, much later.  That time in our lives was one full of doubt, sadness, and overwhelming darkness.

I felt like I was defective.  I didn’t trust my body.  I felt jealous of women holding their babies. 

I’d die a little inside every time I saw a woman with her cute little pregnant belly. How could I be pregnant, and then not be?  And how could it happen twice?  I’d get excited about our new chapter, and then have that joy stripped by loss. Dreaming of our future quickly went from exciting to terrifying. What if this happened again? Maybe I wasn’t meant to be a mom?  Maybe I had to let go.

Thank god my husband is who he is:  patient, supportive, and full of hope.  He kept our heads above water, even though I know he felt like he was drowning too. He never gave up on our dream, and especially not on us. 

Flash forward to having two high risk, yet successful, pregnancies. I was so happy and so blessed….. And heavier than I had ever been before (even a couple of years later). I had somehow taken my grief and shoved it way back in my mind, where it couldn’t reach me. I had never allowed myself to fully feel the pain I had been in; how much our two losses had changed me, and threatened to change my marriage. If I let myself feel the weight of that heartache, that anguish, then I feared I’d be broken. I had been smiling on the outside and crying on the inside. And the more I kept those feelings to myself, the worse it got.

Although I had been living in awe of my beautiful children, my amazing husband, my home, my relationships, my life, I didn’t allow myself to be a part of the equation. I had everything I had been dreaming of and praying for. Therefore, wanting more was selfish. Right? I was thankful and appreciative for everything in my life, except for….. me. Until it literally hit me like a ton of bricks: Who the fuck was I to hate the body that had suffered with me, and carried me through it all? How could I stare at this body and not love it for the warrior that it embodied? I was blessed and living the life I had yearned for, and complaining about my size???? How ungrateful!!!!

It was only then that I was able to change the conversation in my mind, and bring change to the body that I began to love, and still do.

I was able to love the body I had because of what it had given me.  I began to make better choices for my body because I wanted what was best for it.  And my choices didn’t come from a place of disgust or anger. I chose to care for it, rather than punish it.  And even more so, knowing that my thoughts would shape my daughters’ thoughts, gave me clarity in a way I never had before.

I want my daughters to always love themselves and see their worth. I don’t want them to grow up judging themselves, when instead they could learn to live in the security of their own strength and resilience. I want to raise my girls to be assertive, confident, self-loving and kind to others and themselves. I want them to live with gratitude. And they’ll never be able to do that, unless I show them how.  

Today I woke up grateful for my strong body, the gift that is my family, and the life that I am choosing every single day.  I am beautiful.  I am strong.  I am loved.  I am worthy.  Just as I am.

Keep it burnin'

Evelyn

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