Mirror, Mirror On the Wall
Almost 6 ½ years ago I made a decision to try and change my life. I was determined to get into shape and lose some weight. I packed up the Oreos and the Thin Mints, put away the Fettuccini Alfredo and Lasagna, and begrudgingly made a vow against Nachos and Enchiladas. I decided that I would begin my physical transformation with no pasta, no bread, no fruit, no carbohydrates, no red meat, no alcohol (which as it turns out includes wine), no pork products, and generally nothing that even remotely tastes good in any way shape or form. 6 ½ years ago my goal was to look better, to feel better, and to live longer so I could see my children enjoy the miracle of having kids who acted just like them.
I had myself convinced that thin was equal to happy. If I could just lose weight, then the fairytale would finally unfold. I could be self-fulfilled, happily married, unstoppably successful, and a mom worthy of instructing others on the “Michelle School Of Raising Happy, Healthy, Well-Adjusted Children.” I had it all figured out and it was all about what I put into my mouth. As I began to eat in a ridiculously controlled way, I began to see the weight drop off. Pound by pound I shed this physical shell that had incased me for years. As the weight came off I thought for sure I would feel on top of the world, but I just felt more exposed and restless. I began to think that maybe exercise would not only help my weight loss, but was also the key to achieving the allusive thin=happy. I began to workout everyday. Dropping more and more weight, I began to notice something. The thinner I became the more I hated who I saw in the mirror. Physically, I began to look better. I was able to see my collarbone, and as it turned out, I actually have bones in my hips.
When I looked in the mirror I didn’t see that woman who was thin, I still saw the woman that weighed much, much more. I couldn’t see myself as thin because that would mean that the belief I had held my whole life wasn’t true. Maybe thin didn’t actually equal happy. Maybe my unhappiness wasn’t really about my weight. Three years ago, I began the journey to shed extra emotional weight. Three years ago I discovered that my unhappiness wasn’t about a number on a scale or a reflection in the mirror. My unhappiness was about not acknowledging who I actually was. It was about not asking for the things that I wanted and needed, and walking around emotionally on empty everyday. Three years ago at the bottom of layers of fat, I found me.
I began to ask for what I needed, and I began to really tune in to where God was leading me. Today, I still try to avoid the bread and pasta. I still have absolutely nothing to do with Oreos and Thin Mints, but I do have Nachos and Wine. I carry around physical reminders of what my body used to look like. There are stretch marks, extra skin, and generally things that plastic surgeons dream of fixing, but to me they are battle scars. The physical imperfections are a daily reminder not of the physical transformation, but of the emotional and spiritual one. Every stretch mark reminds me that when I peeled back the layers, I found me. So today I stand in front of the mirror proud of what I see. I embrace the body that I work hard on everyday. So this summer, if you see me laying by the pool in a bikini drinking a glass of wine, know that I have probably ordered some Nachos that Café Courier should be delivering any moment, and that I have already worked out much earlier in the day. I know that I’m not perfect, that I’m a work in progress but I am learning to embrace who I actually AM…stretch marks and all.