As I sit here enjoying homemade sweet potato fries with melted cheese dipping fervently into guacamole I am reminded what bullshit perfection is and how unrealistic it is to attain whatever society deems as perfection. When did it become accepted to berate women for being women in a feminine form? Why are curves not OK and yet a toned, shapeless body is what is praised and strived for by women everywhere? I look around me daily and see the active deprivation amongst my sisters in striving to attain a figure that is unattainable and, in the meantime, allowing this way of living dry up their creativity, passion, sexuality, and life force.
As a woman with decades of active recovery from a debilitating eating disorder in her cells, I still find myself wavering about how to do this “right”. If I eat really well all day and practice yoga and get out on a trail, then I am doing recovery “right”? But, if I choose one day to indulge in a burger and a beer then I have fallen off the recovery wagon?? To me, recovery is all about balance. Being an embodied and whole woman means allowing, accepting, and embracing every crevice of who you are. For me, that means giving permission for me to really truly BE who I am and that means that, yes, on occasion – sometimes more often than other times – I eat greasy food and drink alcohol.
Do I still engage in my practices – yoga, meditation, time in nature, dance, self- examination and process? Absolutely. I feel, at 42 years of age, that I have a grasp – perhaps only a slight one – on who I truly am. Not who I have pretended to be – not who I think others want me to be, say, do, act – ME, all of the aspects of me. And, I can honestly say that most days, I kind of dig myself. I look in the mirror and more often than not I say something along the lines of ‘Damn, you look really good. You look healthy, alive, vibrant, and sexy’. Most days I am not evaluating myself by the cellulite on my ass, the extra belly rolls, the lines on my forehead, and the wrinkles that seem to be forming in the most unusual of places. That is most days, definitely not all days, but what I can say is that the days of praise are outweighing the days of criticism and that is nothing short of a miracle and progress in recovery at its finest.
I honestly never really knew whole heartedly if it was possible to live a human life, in a body, with a beating heart, a consciousness, a level of sensitivity to the world that exceeds many for better or worse – if I could ever pull together a life where I actually loved myself, respected myself, knew how to truly tend to myself in the deepest of ways possible. I did not know if I would ever attain peace inside myself to the degree that was needed in order to be able to consistently emanate that to my outer world.
I did not believe, as a 20-something and then as a 30-something, that self-love could happen unless I was perfect.
Perfect at recovery, perfect in my body, perfect in my relationships, perfect at life as a whole. Well, I am here to say, amongst many other things, that PERFECTION DOESN’T FUCKING EXIST. You can seriously literally and figuratively kill yourself in your quest for perfection. Women do it ALL THE TIME. They nip and tuck, run until their body fails them, nibble on their vegetables and fruits – denying their hunger from their core. Refusing to acknowledge who they truly are and negating what they really need to be consuming, how their bodies are really needing to be moved, and what their voices need to say. It is epidemic. Heartbreaking. Abundantly everywhere, in every community, every country, and, as a woman who gets it on the most fundamental level, I feel a responsibility to share the light. To share my story over and over again, honoring the various narrations of it – the fluctuations through the phases of my development, and the raw humbleness of my admission that I really don’t know what I am doing most days.
I am learning with each experience of each day and moment of our days, to trust my heart, to listen to and then actually follow my intuition.
To honor my hunger, not just for food but also for love, for sunlight, for solitude, for movement, for rest, for quiet. Listening, honoring, and acting on my highest voice. The one and only TRUE voice and the one that is speaking louder and louder by the years and teaching me what it really means to love, beginning with loving of the self. I never really understood what that meant….all those years of being preached to about the crucial nature of doing just that.
So, I sit here writing – a bit broken, tainted, beaten up, alive, committed, in love, wounded, determined, grateful, and steeped in the process of healing – with passion to spread the light. Feeling the responsibility and motivation to reach out to other women who struggle to find that ease with themselves. Those women whom every single day is a battle upstream. Those women who cannot see the light and who desperately long to.
May my words touch some in the most tender of places and inspire them to take steps towards their healing – perhaps baby steps, yet forward movement no less.
Reach out and connect, women!