My tongue-in-cheek writings on my experience with my new trainer brought to the forefront some thoughts about body image.
As much as I joke about it, it’s sensitive issue with me. My own body image (even when younger) has never been particularly healthy and has only been exacerbated by the inevitable impact of aging.
I know I’m not alone.
In fact, how one views oneself often underlines the disparity between rational thought and what we actually internalize on an emotional level. Truth is indeed relative and depends far too much on the often skewed vision we end up seeing as “authentic” through the convoluted, complicated byways of our psyche.
Rationally, I am fully cognizant that when my headspace is positive, I can find some merit in at least some aspects of my physical being. But even then, I can usually (successfully) find even more features of which to be critical.
So many of us suffer from some level of dismorphic vision… an inability to truly judge our appearance, a tendency (almost obsessive) to focus on what we perceive as negative physical attributes to the exclusion of all else.
Even in my twisted reasoning and distorted vision, I find a certain bitter humour. I marvel at how rational and emotional thinking collide and repel each other – even as my sensible mind recognizes that I am not the revolting creature I perceive in my mind`s eye, I despair at the imperfections and lament the lack of perfection.
I yearn for the jut of bone and sweep of smooth flesh, for the corrugated jut of rib skimmed by firm skin and undisguised by softness. I flex my arm and hunger for sweep of muscle and sinew and the throbbing blue reality of veins under a thin membrane of pale skin. It is as if I cower within the confines of a body whose reality is as delicate as the touch of flesh on flesh.
As if somehow achieving a skeletal frame and fitting into a smaller size pant will somehow salve the wounds that lie suppurating beneath my skin.
Because ultimately how we view ourselves physically is often really a craving to see the reflection of loveliness shine back from another`s eyes. Each of our realities is in truth a mess of emotions, experiences, internalized truths and external influences, with a fillip of ego thrown in to push everything off-kilter.
And the unfortunate thing is that too many of us crave the reflection of beauty in eyes looking back at us and find in that – or in its lack – the internalization of our own self-image.
Without doubt, the essence of ego must reside within ourselves; if we are to truly find a measure of contentment in our own skin, constantly seeking approbation and validation from external forces is never going to provide the profundity of self-internalization required to heal and mend damaged self-worth.
Yet conversely, having someone YOU find worthy and wonderful, uncritically, fully and with a palpable certitude find loveliness in you, in your person and in your mind, in your complicated psyche and all too human foibles, can bolster and give you that first small piece of courage to find some form of internal self-validation.
Sadly, I think there are many of us out there that despite best efforts of loved ones, just cannot see through their eyes. Or worse, through repudiation, rejection and dismissal find validation of our already self-critical beliefs and in that rebuff, find a cruelly self-fulfilling truth that simply underlines our existing self-loathing.
I do know that taking a measure of control over our lives helps keep a tentative balance of equilibrium. For me, committing and following through with an exercise program is incredibly liberating; and gives me a sense of having some control over what often seems to be a chaotic universe.
And while I don’t think I have ever in my life been able to gaze at my body and find it beautiful – I can and have found comfort and delight in its strength, in its flexibility and in the extent to which I can push it and make it work the way a body is meant to work.
And sometimes, that had to be enough.
That and my rather sexy lower lip.