Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Spoken Secret of Weight

So I'm about to board a plane tomorrow for Denver to see a couple of college friends I haven't seen in awhile
. One of them was at my wedding almost three years ago when I was at my skinniest by accident--wedding planning, excitement and constant activity had me practically forgetting to eat. The other knew me at a time in my life when I was eating pints of ice-cream just to prove I could, abandoning nutrition and any rules I'd ever made myself follow so that I could just stop being afraid of food all the time. I was puffy-faced and heavier, but working something important through.

As I think about my relationships with them--and how many phases of dieting and body size they've seen me through--I realize how much history I carry of different ways of seeing and being with my body. I have been afraid of it and in awe of it, disgusted by it and open to its soft rhythms. Sometimes I've weighed more and sometimes I've weighed less.

When we have friends over the years, family, loved ones, they see the fluctuations we wear. In fact, one thing about our bodies is that they broadcast to the world, whether we like it or not, a lot of what we're experiencing or going through on the inside. It can be humbling.

One friend I know almost decided not to go to a recent reunion of some of his army buddies because of his recent weight gain--he was afraid of what people would think, especially since they had known him as a free-wheeling, buff guy twenty years ago. He pushed himself to go anyway and had a great time. What would he have missed if he hadn't gone?

I wonder what we think our weight will say about us, and how we interpret it when we feel exposed to others in our lives. Does weight equal failure? Loss of control? Depression? Sometimes it also exposes our humanness, the crazy pace of our lives. For me, it often just means I'm going through a period where it's harder to listen and slow down. Eventually, a sense of heaviness and weight tells me I need to change what I'm doing and start attending to myself and my body more.

I guess if we're really in alignment with our bodies, that what they would say about how we are wouldn't be so different from the same truths we hold inside. What's so bad about that? The problem is when we split off, wish they said something different than they do, wish we could lie. Those who really care about us see what our bodies say, even if we'd rather pretend that everything is fine. But also, sometimes our bodies look 'fine' on the outside and don't reveal the part of us that is vulnerable, the part that is clutching desperately to a more controlled diet so that we don't have to feel feelings of fear or overwhelm.

What do you think your body says about you right now, and how do you feel about the world getting that message? Is your outside consistent with your insides, your feelings about your life? If not, why? Is there anything you're trying to hide that your body is saying for you instead?

Get curious about unpacking and deconstructing the stories that you, your body, and those around you might tell about you--are they consistent? If not, how might you make them more so, listening and catching up with your body's wisdom and feeling less shame about what it has to reveal? What are you hiding that your body and those close to you already know?

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