Facing my own reflection
Seeing my truth reflected back to me...
I stood in a changing room on Sunday, trying on bra after bra, after bra... any woman will know that this experience can be very stressful, but as a woman with a fuller figure - this process has always caused me a huge amount of anxiety.
Mirrors surrounding my body as I tried on different styles, different shapes, different sizes - only to be told that actually, there wasn't a single bra in the store that actually perfectly fitted me. That I would have to 'make do' with wearing something that was close, but not quite right.
Humiliation. Shame. Frustration. Disgust.
Those were the emotions that I felt as I stared at myself in the mirror. The mirror in front of me showed my face as I tried to hold back tears. The mirror to my side showing me the silhouette and curves that were causing me so much anguish. The mirror behind me highlighting the flesh that was being squeezed out from an item of clothing that should make me feel proud and sexy.
I have made no secret of my struggles around accepting my own body and I absolutely know that I am not alone in these feelings.
And the question I have to ask myself is WHY?
Why do we have to fit a shape and a size that has been created by a manufacturer with no basis or allowance for the uniqueness of every single body?
Why do so many women, myself included, have this ability to switch from confidence to self loathing withing a matter of minutes?
Why is it so hard to move on and surrender to the way our body changes throughout our life?
At every angle we are being 'told' what we should look like, how we should behave, how we are expected to show up in this life. We are 'supposed' to work a certain way, we are not 'allowed' to express emotions or the messy raw parts of our life for fear of making people see us as weak or causing discomfort.
Every part of me wanted to put my clothes on, cover up the messy parts of my body that I couldn't stand to look at, and run out of that shop.
But I knew that I needed to face myself. Face my truth. Accept and see myself for all that I am, and not all that I am not. So I stayed there and I looked at the skin that overlapped between my armpit and my bra. I studied the roll of fat that oozed out under the wire, I looked at my stretch marks on my breasts which signaled the fluctuation of size and shape over my life. I faced all of it, in my wholeness.
And it felt horrible. I couldn't love myself in that moment. I had to stand and feel the discomfort and the shame I felt for being unable to truly love my body exactly as it is.
I practice kindness and compassion in all that I do. I instill it in my students in class and my clients in my coaching sessions. And in that moment I felt like a fraud. How could I possibly inspire another woman to love her body as it is, when I felt so much self loathing and disgust at the changes in my own physique?
Once again. Humiliation. Shame. Frustration. Disgust.
Anger. Rage. A bubbling, simmering energy that rose up from my abdomen towards my chest and into my throat. Causing a lump, a blockage, as I felt ashamed of this sensation and as though I 'shouldn't' feel that way.
"I should go to the gym more. I need to restrict my diet again. I need to stop eating porridge. I mustn't eat another square of chocolate. My willpower was rubbish. I was so lazy. Why did I eat those crisps last night?"
Anger at the thoughts I defaulted back to. Anger at myself for so easily slipping back into a negative mindset around my body shape. Ashamed for the toxic thoughts going through my head in that moment.
Anger is not a desirable emotion - it is in fact a very dark feeling which we are told is ugly and messy and shouldn't be expressed.
So my instant reaction was to silence myself. To shut my mouth, to go inward and internalise the feeling - to not let it out, to not express it for fear of what people might think.
And in the past that feeling would have been pushed down, down, down until I could forget about it for a while. Manifesting in some kind of physical discomfort or emotional blockage. But this year I have learned so much about my shadows and I have begun to face the darker twisty corners of my soul - the ones I have tried so hard to hide.
We are all dark and light
I am beginning to see these 'undesirable' emotions as a beautiful reflection of my whole self. They are wounds that need to be healed and they rise up to get my attention - they do not need a plaster to cover them up - they have to be opened and allowed to heal from the inside out.
They are my fire. My passion. My truth. My full expression.
They are raw, real and at times can make others feel uncomfortable because to someone not familiar with inner transformation and self growth - it can look destructive, chaotic, wild and out of control.
The world is not all love and light. It is dark and grimy. Muddy and murky at times. It is horrific and shocking and while I do believe it is our purpose to bring more light and love to the world - it is also our responsibility to face up to the dark parts of our inner beings in order to heal our own wounds before we can bring that light in a truly authentic way.
We are all a beautiful combination of sparkle and glitter, and grit and grime.
And so, by standing in the mirror and facing my reflection, I begin to see the ugly truth as something incredibly magical and an opportunity to transform.
I looked in the mirror and I saw my whole self for the first time - and instead of shying away, I looked her straight in the eye.
All. Of. Her.