I’ve been grieving. I’ve been caught in this cyclical grieving process for a while. That’s not an easy thing to admit, because I want so badly to let this go. I know others believe I should be able to. But here I am, grieving.
About four years or so ago, when I consciously began this journey of knowing myself and healing, one of the first feelings to really hit me when I felt the changes taking hold in my life, was grief. Feeling just how happy and freeing it was to be vulnerable and face the hurt and truths within, made it glaringly apparent how much I wished I’d done the work sooner. I lost a lot of time. And even though I know I needed to travel this path as I’ve traveled it in order to reach this exact place and be able to move forward, that didn’t erase the regret and the guilt. The anger. The sadness. I couldn’t simply cast those feelings aside and pretend they didn’t exist. I had to move through a grieving process to reach acceptance, although I still from time to time feel the pangs of regret, and probably always will to an extent.
Part of that acceptance was realizing that my life felt like it was never mine. I was never free of my past; I’d never allowed myself to feel the hurt and heal, and all the choices I’d made along the way were a byproduct of the process I needed to go through in order to face it. And now that I am consciously living in a way that cultivates that healing and freedom, my insides feel freer than I ever imagined they could. I accept, I understand.
Except, I have this tangible reminder living on my outside. I carry it’s weight, both literally and figuratively, every minute of every day. It greets me in the morning, sabotages my self esteem in dressing rooms, pulls at my focus in the bedroom, distorts the look of every single piece of clothing I wear, moves with every stride and motion I make, and even impacts my relationships.
Always, it’s there, on my upper arms, my lower belly, my hips/butt, and my thighs. It’s there, in my mind, tugging just as tangibly as gravity pulls it toward the earth. The skin and distorted distribution of fat cells that inhabits my body is my constant reminder.
It took me several years, but I lost 80 pounds of emotional and physical weight and I’ve kept it off. But it left its mark behind in saggy, jiggly lumps and flaps all over my body. And no matter how hard I try to focus on how I feel and not how I look, there it is, mocking me.
Sometimes I can go stretches of time feeling so good about what I’ve done to make myself healthy, feeling proud and feeling good about how I look, both inside and out. The way my husband looks at me and the wonderful things he says (and does, ahum) to me matter more to me than he’ll ever know. Knowing he loves everything about me has helped me to heal tremendously. But I still have this bit I can’t seem to accept and it all seems to revolve around the way my body looks, even after losing the weight.
Recently, M expressed some of his deepest desires to me. To know that my husband leads us with every ounce of his being invested, and the fact that he trusts me enough to be so vulnerable brings me such joy, I can’t describe it. I’m so excited he’s reached this place of acceptance for himself to move forward in pursuing these desires. And I want nothing more than to be an active participant in them. I need to be.
Much of what M desires revolves around voyeurism and exhibitionism. It involves being free to express our desires amongst like minded people without shame. He asked for those things, but I want those things, too. I have a need to express myself freely just as much as he does.
The thing is, this issue I have with my body is THE ONLY HURDLE I HAVE. All the other things like shyness and small talk and even nakedness, wouldn’t be an issue IF MY BODY DIDN’T LOOK LIKE THIS. When we talk about these desires, which is all the time, I picture these things playing out in my mind as we speak or as he describes them, and I feel this exhilaration and freeness I’ve never felt in my life. And then later, it hits me like a ton of bricks….I realize I’d be participating in these things with THIS BODY. Suddenly, these amazing things I can’t wait to make real feel like pure fantasy, because in real life, this body and how I feel about it doesn’t match THAT FEELING I had in my mind. And the gap seems insurmountable.
Last weekend, we eased in by attending a rope group, which was fantastic. It was non-threatening, beautiful, informative, and fun. I wore yoga capris and a tight fitting, sleeveless top, but I remained clothed. Others did not. The thing is…I want to feel free enough to enjoy it like that. I want that so badly. I don’t want to lose any more time living a life I haven’t grabbed by the horns and hung on to. I want my life to be mine, today, and not one lived with one foot in the past or one in which regret and shame and grief hold me back.
In 6 days, we are attending our first small munch and in 8 days we are going to our first play party. When I go, I’ll be wearing, in my standards, at least, revealing clothing. We may engage in play of some kind, it all depends. M has no expectation that I push myself into going or into participating if I’m too uncomfortable to do so. He understands if I’m not ready. But if I don’t go now, I’ll never be ready. I’ll keep telling myself things like, I’ll be ready when I lose 10 more pounds, or if I can get my arms to be firmer, and so on. I will always find some physical goal I haven’t quite reached. I’ll only be good enough if I this, or when I that. I trust M to be aware of and make concessions for my major insecurities, and I know I need to go.
But in order to decide to go, I’ve had to understand that since I lost the weight, I’ve been happy and proud, but I’ve also been processing a great deal of grief, and I keep winding back and around and around. I haven’t been able to get past it. Most recently, I’ve been angry. Really fucking angry. I’ve been sad. Really fucking sad. I’ve been feeling sorry for myself, because life isn’t fucking fair and I worked so fucking hard to be left with THIS. THIS BODY. And I’m not unrealistic, I don’t imagine perfection! I imagine the body of a 45 year old woman (today is my birthday!) who’s had two kids and had jobs that have demanded things from her body, of evidence of stress and weather and sports injuries and lots of laughter. One with lines and droops and stretch marks and imperfections. Just not THIS.
I know this will be a battle for the rest of my life, with many ups and downs. What I wish for is the freedom of allowing myself to feel good, in this skin, for the freedom to see my outside through different eyes, and for those eyes to match the freedom and happiness I feel on the inside. This seems to be my biggest hurdle.
I hope that the feeling of being on the arm of my amazing husband as I go to this party and we feel this freedom together will encourage my eyes to continue to fill the gap. I hope I can learn to focus on what this body can do and feel and not the physical imperfection.
Wish me luck.
– Art work by Kim Roberti