Lately I've begun formulating new thought processes regarding my body. I've been very fortunate in that I take after my mother physically. We can gain weight very quickly but we can also lose it just as quickly. The main difference is that she was done having kids before I had my first. Baby making mid thirties poses new challenges if you are expecting to go back to the body you had before.
After almost two years since I had my baby, my body has not returned to the way it was. I don't think it ever will. I haven't given up and I will continue my practice of yoga (which is about so much more than my appearance) and am doing specific abdominal work (learned while becoming certified for postnatal yoga instruction). The point is finding the place of balance. I want to be healthy and I want to continue doing things that make me healthy but I also want to let go of the part of me who longs for what once was. I carried a human being in my body for nine months and then nursed her for 18 more. Not to mention that without there even being a baby in the mix, hitting your middle thirties changes things-big time. I know women who have babies and then look as if it never happened, I have to admit that I envy them-and I have to point out that this baby making stuff (usually) happened in their twenties.
I keep looking at the clothes I used to wear and how they made me feel that I was able to communicate something about myself to the rest of the world simply by wearing them. Many of them look silly on me now and although I never would have thought myself to be "skinny" before, I now look like a grown woman trying on kids clothes. Finding things that flatter a more curvy figure and still communicate "me" is at best, difficult. It is making me question who it is that I think I am, in fact, and the answer is not easily reached.
The new process I'm working on goes something like this....view your body as the result of what it has done and is capable of. I grew an entire person inside of me and provided everything she needed for survival once she emerged from my womb. I was careful with body products used, food eaten, air breathed, etc. Now, my midsection is different from the one I was so accustomed to...and it should be. Something happened there that is happening each day to women all over the world-a quiet force of nature taking over their bodies, their thoughts, and their emotions. All for the insane privilege of bringing their little one into the universe...
I also carry her with this body, care for her, and make our house into a home. I make my husband very happy with it, too and I have to say that he has told me he enjoys the more curvy frame I now sport.
What do I do for myself with it? While practicing yoga I am able to create more energy or subdue it and always am able to transition from mere movement to a place of worship wherein I thank my creator for this healthy body and for the lifelong joy I have found in simply moving it. Which brings me to dancing-dancing is my natural element, it seems...music brings out the fiercest desire in me to translate with my body what I'm hearing and what it's doing to me. I have always thought it would be so amazing to be able to sing (which I can't-it's quite dreadful when I do), but if I were to have to choose, I could not imagine a life without dance. I also have girlfriends who I have grown exponentially closer with because we share a love of tearing up a dance floor with each other.
I have to keep catching myself in the middle of dissatisfaction and remind myself that I'm dissatisfied because I only see my body through the eyes of comparison. I compare it to the bodies of other women and I compare it to my own past body. I am going to rewire my brain and maybe it won't ever be 100%, but I will start viewing it as the sacred place of creation, love, and art that it is.
I will be gentle with myself. A lovely friend gave me a refrigerator magnet last year reading, "Be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the moon and the stars. In the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul." I will not harm myself through thoughts that bring me down but will love myself and be grateful for this gift that I have.
Yes, body-you are not as tight as you used to be, but you are strong, nurturing, capable, sensual, musically inclined, and bring me closer to God. For all of these reasons, and more, I thank you.