Would you like to know how the Being Fine With How I Look is going? It is not going well. Now you know.
It's HARD. I mean, you know this. I just... I think I expected to move forward and I'm not. I'm still mentally haranguing myself just about every day while not doing much of anything about it. I can say, "Hey, God, I don't want to think like this" for about three seconds and then I push forward to the upsetness with myself because... well, WHY? Is it more satisfying? Feels better? I just think it's easier.
There are two positive things I can note.
The first is that, for the first time in many months, the thought of exercising does not seem absolutely repulsive to me. As in, I think to myself, "Huh, I bet that would feel good." I've been thinking this mostly in regard to yoga (as in, maybe I should start going to yoga again) and running, but only running outside. I happened to visit a park with Emma a few mornings ago and it was one of those really glorious autumn mornings. Crisp, clear, red, gold, beautiful. A brand new park with a paved perimeter loop. Not crowded, not huge, quiet, and I kept thinking how nice it would be if I were on my own and wearing a pair of running shoes. So while neither of these things has actually happened yet, the fact that "exercising sounds good" is now interspersed with "I feel super guilty about not exercising" is, I think, an improvement.
Also, first positive thing part 2, I've had moments of wanting to exercise because I love myself, not because I hate myself.
Okay, so the second positive thing had to do with All Saints Day. I made it to church! Are you proud of me? I'm not really sure how you other Catholics do it, but I've had a REALLY HARD TIME hitting up all the not-Sunday-days since I've had kids. But Friday I took the big kids to school and Emma and I went to the church by our house for the 9am school Mass. And it was nice! All Saints Day might be my favorite "extra church day", I think because of a homily my old priest gave years ago. This priest at the church I rarely attend was all right, and it was geared towards kids (works for me), and then he started talking about Mother Teresa. Saint, right? Definitely. I am one of those Catholics who want to saint-ify everyone. The more the merrier! Yay Saints! And this priest, of whom I am not particulary fond and whose homilies have never spoken to me, starts talking about how beautiful Mother Teresa was. Even with her craggy face and sad eyes. She was beautiful. And I was thinking: she was! She was beautiful. She was amazing.
And of course, because everything leads back to ME, I think to myself: would I rather be thin and modelicious or would I rather be saintly? And, because I am ME, I respond to myself: can't I have BOTH?
But it did remind me of the many many women I know whose beauty is enhanced by their faith. My first preference is to have both. I would like to be Sandra Bullock (she's my favorite) AND that Mary Ann lady I met at Urbana last year who seems to have God speaking directly in her ear. But if I have to choose, well, striving for a smaller pants size does not necessarily lead to faith, but faith always brings beauty. And a different, more interesting, more lifegiving, better beauty.
When I'm this size, I spend so much time thinking about how I wish I was smaller, thinner, better looking in clothes. But I also know, now, that when I WAS smaller and thinner I spent so much time being afraid of getting bigger, of losing my motivation to work out, wondering what other people thought of me, and also congratulating myself on my clearly morally superior ability to lose weight.
I don't like EITHER of those brain places. Neither one is good for my soul. What would it be like to knock What I Look Like off it's top tier position in my head? Maybe some of you have done this. Maybe some of you have never struggled with this. And honestly, I don't feel like this has been My Struggle, you know? Not to the extent that some women have suffered with body image. I know it could be so much worse, so the fact that it's so hard right now feels hopeless. Will I always feel this way about myself? Can I exercise and diet my way to a point where I never feel bad about myself? Do I just continue to be in this place of giving up and hating myself for it?
I need God to provide that third way, that way where there is no way. I want to stop worshiping this idol of Pants Size. I want to go run around that park because it's beautiful outside and it feels good and because there's diabetes in my family and running makes my brain feel better, not because I hate the way I look in jeans. I NEED THAT THIRD WAY.