It dawned on me around November of last year when people were being struck down left and right with illness that I hadn't been sick for a single solitary day in the calendar year 2014. Not once. I actually had to check my blog to find out that the last time I got sick enough with a cold to miss a day of work was January 2013 and it had been a year prior since I was sick before that. Last month there was one occasion where I had a weird cough and another that I felt a little stuffy at night for a few days but nothing that materialized into anything requiring a day off work, medication or even tissues. So what's my secret? The truth is, I don't have one. I am absolutely not perfect in my diet and exercise and I've only recently gotten more regular with vitamins. When I'm not eating hamburgers the size of my head I have a solid awareness of what a healthy diet is and that's what I eat. I exercise regularly except when I'd rather watch reality TV or snuggle in bed with a good book than work out. There isn't always an explanation for good health just as there isn't always one when it's bad.
My first thought when I realized I haven't been sick in so long was Holy immune system you are really good!! I'll probably get the plague, the measles or at least a really rotten cold for publicly acknowledging that I haven't been sick in two years; but it's the truth and it's pretty awesome. My second thought. You are mighty ungrateful for someone who has been graced with such good health.
I know I'm lucky and I don't take my good health for granted. I never did, although my actions told a slightly different story. An unhealthy aversion to fat and calories dominated my life for a really long time but in my mind it wasn't a problem. I wouldn't listen to anyone who said you have to put gas in your car in order to fuel it because I was getting away with it. There was hardly any gas and yet there I was chugging along. My trusty body stood up to the abuse like a champ and thrived in spite of my poor nutrition. Things are different now. Over the last year I had to accept this whole eat to live concept, but the voice in my head that drove my actions all those years remains. I should be grateful for my good health. I am grateful, but sometimes I have to ask myself; how truly grateful I can be when I don't love my body?
I love my body for what it has done but not at all for what it is and sadly, I have never loved any version of my body no matter the size. I can pick up any journal I've ever written since I was ten years old and find something negative about my shape or weight. My physical form is a vehicle for life but also a source of conflict. It's like being trapped in an unwanted shell that you cannot escape.
One day I was in the bathroom using a hand mirror to stare at my butt when my husband walked in. Let's be real. I can't be the only woman who has ever done this. Normally, I hide my hate sessions and would have quickly put the mirror down but I didn't bother. He's heard me give every excuse in the book to avoid dinner and held me while I cried about my thighs. There are really no secrets left when it comes to this and as much as he loves my body the way it is he already knows I don't. He gave me a funny look.
"What? Haven't you ever used a hand mirror like this to look at your butt?" I asked sarcastically because I already knew the answer. Of course not.
It struck me as some otherworldly state of being not to have ever done such a thing because I really don't know what it's like to not hate my body. I can't imagine an existence where I don't use a hand mirror so that I can hate-see my butt. Where I don't avoid the mirror because I dread what I will see or am compelled to look so that I can shake my head in disgust. I've pinched, criticized and compared for so many years that I don't even know what I look like anymore. Objectively, I know that I am not this hideous creature I see in my head and that my harsh opinion is terribly skewed and therefore lacks merit. I know this, and yet those negative thoughts still speak the loudest. I've starved. I've overexercised. I've called myself fat. The physical war is over, but the mental war inside my head won't quit and I haven't figured out how to shut off the voice telling me my body is not good enough. There is no reason that any woman at any size should look in the mirror and be so blinded that they can only see what needs fixing. Who's to blame? How does this happen? I can't very well blame the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show because this all started before I even knew what Victoria's Secret was. I can't say that I'm not affected by those images, because I most definitely am, but it's so much more complex than that.
I've loathed it to the moon and back but all it has ever shown me in return is love. My body has never let me down. It does everything it's supposed to do and I should love it wholeheartedly because that's what it deserves. My body deserves better. I deserve better. There are people with chronic and/or life threatening illnesses and people get sick every time the wind blows so it does feel kind of ridiculous to be so hung up on something like this. I'm not one to cuss much, but really; I'm too old for this shit. Life is too short to spend it hating the very thing that allows you to live. I'm working on it. That's really all I can say and hopefully one day I'll learn to appreciate my body for the amazing things it does and for what it looks like.