Saturday, October 3, 2009

Beyond the Looking Glass... Reflections on a Year without Reflection


I'm about to have my 37th birthday in just under a couple of weeks. I have spent the past three years healing my body image issues... coming to a place of peace and acceptance with myself. Anyone who has been through an in-depth healing process will tell you that it is a spiral path. As much as you believe your journey is complete, you always discover that there is another loop of growth to travel.

Lately, my social circle has been obsessed with body talk. Everyone around me is trying to lose weight, complaining about how fat they are, making judgmental comments about other women's bodies. The energy is really bringing me down. I wish I could make these women understand that it is not a food issue. It is not a weight issue. It is a self-care issue. I wish they could see what I see... that our worth is not held in the container of our physical appearance. The pursuit of the societal definition of perfection robs us of our joy and sense of belonging. When we are laying on our death bed the last thing we are going to be worried about is that piece of devil's food cake we devoured or the silly size of our jeans. Yet, we squander so much of our life energy fretting over something so trite and irrelevant.

This body talk is toxic. It can really bring a girl down, man. Lately, I've noticed it has made me more aware of my own silhouette... its fleshy curves and soft padding. How could I not be impacted in this way? Women have approached me with unwarranted comments about my body, blurring the boundary lines of my personal space. They wonder how much weight I have lost, what I plan on doing to release some more, how I'm eating... blah, blah, blah! Can you tell I am so over this dribble?! With everything going on in the world today aren't there more important issues at stake? Why are people so closed to meaningful dialogue? Why are we so content to skim the surface instead of scratching the veneer to see the depth of what lies within?

I recently experienced this body fixation at a gathering. It was a healing circle for my friend who has been diagnosed with cancer. We were raising such beautiful energy. We were gathered in numbers and strength in a spirit of love. The power of that intention was palpable. Then it seeped in... like a disease... infecting and consuming every healing thought in its path. Body talk.

I heard one woman greet an old friend with, "Wow... look at you! I remember when you were so fat!" Another woman lamented that she had lost 15 lbs. and was now too skinny as her friend quipped under her breath, "anorexic". Another lady offered up a few meager pieces of chocolate to the group with the disclaimer, "Sorry, that's all I have left. I'm trying to get it out of the house. I'm going to be 'good' come Monday." On and on it went. This woman talking about her cleanse and how she had piously abstained from a laundry list of foods. That woman pinching at the roll cascading over her waistband. It was a ceaseless dietribe drowning out prayers of healing and heartfelt intention. How can healing energy co-exist in such a place of division and rejection? My insides were screaming, "Stop bringing this hateful energy into this sacred space!"

Here I was, amidst a gallery of goddesses. Each one beautiful and complete in their many forms. Every woman present possessed an exquisiteness that runs through their lifeblood, having no connection to that little number on the clothing tag of their dress. Somehow this truth escaped their consciousness in the fog of vanity. These women who felt so woeful about their bodies are lithe forms next to this thick mama who has a solid 100 lbs. on each of them. To hear them reject themselves in this way made me wonder what they see when they look at me. Do they even see me at all? Or does my body size get in the way?

I am the largest woman in the room. I am that white elephant that gives rise to discomfort. People notice my difference, but pretend my plus-size has escaped their attention. Instead, they talk around me as if I am none the wiser. It's almost as if my presence compels women to rebuke all things fat lest my obesity rub off on them. The experience had a powerful effect on me, prompting me to respond in a rather radical, unconventional way.

I have been feeling a great pull to turn within... deflecting my attention from the superficial, to reflect on my pure essence. I long to unmask the woman I am behind the veil of social guises, appearances, and pleasantries. My soul is singing Siren songs beckoning me to dive deep and explore the ocean of my inner being. What mysteries await me in its murky depths? My draw is not to the physical, but the intangible. I have surrendered concern about whether or not I am releasing weight, or if I ever will for that matter. My soul's desire is to feel good, celebrate the gift of life, take loving care of my entire being, and be appreciative of this earth suit I get to experience this wondrous world in. Lately, I have heard the call... "Let go... surrender... release expectation and discover the true meaning of life. It is here you will find the balance once liberated from the shackles of design. Embrace the formless and sink into serendipity."

I am answering the call by spending the next year of my life unencumbered by mirrors. A year without reflection to deepen my reflection. A journey of self-discovery to see what lies beyond the looking glass.

My bathroom mirror has been covered by a sign bearing a sunny smiley face exclaiming, "You are gorgeous!" The mirror in the garage that I used to work out in front of is being dismantled. I want to sense and feel my body instead of defining myself according to labels of beauty seen in a reflection. I have recently caught myself on the way to the shower, scanning my profile in the mirror, noting how far my tummy sticks out. I've witnessed the reemergence of body consciousness. I'm nipping it in the bud... pulling it out of the garden of my soul like so many weeds. I will not let its intrusion over-grow and invasively consume the fresh growth I have nurtured and lovingly tended to.

Maybe I sound a little kooky, a bit eccentric, or a tad extreme. I don't know what it will be like to live life without mirrors. Will my perception of self shift without having my reflection to define me? How will my identity morph as I base my experience of myself on what I feel, rather than what I see? Will I be able to connect more deeply with the true source of my being? Will I find the bounty of my mojo there waiting for me... a treasure chest overflowing with the promise of a juicy life bursting with ripeness? I don't know, but it seems an intriguing experiment. They say that curiosity killed the cat, but this feline knows that satisfaction is what brought it back. This kitten is ready to get her purr on. The wild unbridled woman in me can't help but go there and challenge the confines of normalcy.

And so I pose this question to you dear friends...

What do you think lies beyond the looking glass?

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