Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Overcoming My Affliction

I’m one of thousands of American woman who suffers with a long term, life-altering, painful affliction. It’s a baffling and illogical thing, but it’s very real. Some women suffer more than others; even losing their lives due to extreme manifestations of the problem. There’s been much public discussion and research about the subject with no real solutions on the horizon. I’m referring, of course, to body hatred.

I’ve been at odds with my body for almost as long as I can remember. Despite the fact that I like myself, and my likeable self exists within this flesh, I haven’t been able to consistently make peace with my perceived physical flaws and imperfections. I’ve spent a good amount of time and energy trying to convince myself that it’s okay to be just as I am, but the logic doesn’t always stick. Likewise, reassurances from others are often fleeting relief. In the past, I’ve spent a good deal of time exploring all the reasons why this sort of thing happens to us, but right now all I’m interested in is how to get rid of it.

REALITY: Like it or not, I’m stuck with this body. It’s mine, and perhaps I’d enjoy it more if I made friends with it instead of being harsh and critical. There’s only so much I can do to change it, and as I age, it’s going to become less and less appealing based on the rigid standards I’ve set for myself. As such, I’ve spent a lot of time lately making a comprehensive assessment of all my bits and pieces. I’ve concluded that I should stop my belly-aching and be thankful for what I’ve got.

I’m damn lucky. Other than a mild eyesight impairment, all my parts work. As a matter of fact, they work quite well. I’m strong, healthy and completely able-bodied.

I have some large visible scars on my left ankle from a series of surgeries after a very bad fracture and dislocation several years ago. Instead of thinking those scars are ugly, maybe they should remind me that I endured a really difficult time, worked hard and beat the odds. After the accident, the prognosis wasn’t good. I wasn’t supposed to walk without a limp, and the doctors said I’d have limited mobility and lifelong pain. I stubbornly refused to accept it and worked my ass off in rehab. My stubbornness paid off. I wear 4" heels without a problem and within 6 months of my last surgery, I didn’t have any pain at all.

My hands are huge. My sisters and my Mom have sweet little delicate hands. Unlike mine, they’re so pretty and feminine. I have big, giant, strong, functional hands. I once surreptitiously started a rumor at work that I was really a man. Actually, my friend Ruth did it, but it was my idea because I like to screw with people when I’m bored. I told Ruth to say, "I heard that Theresa is really a man. I think it might be true. Look at her hands. They’re huge, like man hands." Other than stupid jokes, there are a lot of advantages to having big hands. For instance, I never have to ask a guy to open a jar for me, and when I grab a handful of popcorn, I get more than most people.

It’s not just my hands. All my bones are big. I’m just BIG. Good ol’ Iowa farm stock … except I avoid rural areas. I’m very afraid some industrious Amish farmer will hook me up to a plow if I get too close. However, despite my fear of the buggy-folk, being big isn’t a bad thing. It could be a definite advantage if I ever really decide to go into the Super-Hero business. I think the general public has more confidence in a big strong Super-Hero than a tiny frail Super-Hero.

I’m overweight. Now, this is one of those qualities that I have the power to change. However, do I really want to wait to like my body until after I lose weight? Maybe I should like my body now. Liking it won’t prevent me from losing weight. In fact, it might even help.

I’m getting those funny spider veins on my calves. I’ve come to understand that these are age-related, genetic sorts of things. I should have expected it. I dodged the cellulite bullet, so sooner or later I have to pay. Lucky me! I got these little roadmap beauties instead. Hey look! I think it's a map of my town. I can see my house!

Seriously, these things are tough to love. However, as I was reorganizing my closet this weekend, I pulled out a fantastic little skirt with dark purple embroidery. I completely forgot I had it. I also discovered that I have a pair of really sexy shoes to match. As I was looking at the two together, I wondered if I’ll have the nerve to wear them with my veiny legs. However, it dawned on me as I looked at the ensemble next to my skin, Wow! the purple in the skirt and shoes is an exact match to the veins in my calves! It couldn’t be more perfect.

Make friends with your body. Do it now. It’s yours and it’s the only one you’re going to get this time around. Why spend another minute feeling miserable in it?


At 9:57 AM, Blogger Larry Jones said...

Hey, after you're done making friends with your body, would you mind if I cozied up to it too, just a little?

At 10:44 AM, Blogger naive-no-more said...

Theresa, You are beautiful in mind, body and spirit. Got it?

At 11:12 AM, Blogger Aisha T. said...

Theresa, you are absolutely gorgeous. It's hard to believe such a beautiful person finds such faults with themselves. I guess, we are all our own worst critics. I used to nit pick about my looks until I got hit with psoriasis--ALL OVER! I looked like a burn victim. Although I still have it on my shins, it definitely took the focus away from nit picking. As for the spider veins, I'm genetically prone to varicose veins (got my mom's body--a gigantic plus but, also her downfalls) I keep them at bay from being pretty active. More importantly, because of all the yoga, I'm constantly going upside down. Now, I'm not saying to jump in and do handstands but, maybe laying on your back and running your legs up a wall for ten to fifteen minutes a day? Get the ciruclation going in the opposite direction.

At 12:34 PM, Blogger CCHuff said...

I hear you, OMB, do I hear you! I am more critical of myself and expect more of myself than anyone else does. At 56, still look pretty good, no complaints from anyone about scaring small children and the like, but O.M.G!

At 5:42 PM, Blogger Ron Southern said...

Make friends with your flaws and the bunch of you can beat up the rest of us disorganized bastards!

You'd be lovely, no matte what body you presented to the public. That's my story. and I'm sticking to it!

At 7:57 PM, Blogger joy said...

Like everyone else stated here, you are a beautiful woman, mind, body and soul. I struggle with the same affliction as well and so I can fully identify with you. Don't you wish sometimes that there was a magic pill that could help us overcome this body hate?

At 10:36 PM, Blogger Laurie said...

Oh, T... I really needed to read this - it spoke to me. I've gained some weight in the past year, and I've been really hating myself for it.

Why are we our own worst critics?

At 10:47 PM, Blogger Casey said...

My hair, my teeth, my weight, my skin... nothing avoids scrutiny.

We're too hard on ourselves, and each other.

At 11:27 PM, Blogger theresa said...

Larry - How could I refuse such a sweet invitation?

Michelle - Well, if you're gonna be bossy, okay then!

Aisha - I gotta try the yoga thing one of these days. With you as inspiration, I don't know what's holding me back.

Cchuff - You're doing better than me. I really do scare small children, but only when I chase them and threaten to unbutton their bellybuttons so their butts fall off.

Ron - Oh Sweet man, you should be the president of my fan club, my Dear!

Joy - A magic pill would be much easier. On the other hand, there's something about the satisfaction of beating this problem on my own that seems rewarding.

Laurie - This is the part that kills me ... when beautiful women who I admire beat themselves up for the same stuff. It's no good. We can't let each other do it.

Casey - So true. We are way to hard on ourselves, and when we criticize each other, it perpetuates the problem and reeks of our own insecurity and self-doubts.

At 12:03 AM, Blogger ZooooM said...

Wow do I ever hear this.

And T, you are amazing. I have learned that amazing people rarely realize they are so friggin cool. And you are one of those.

I've been tall all my life, and I've got the family thighs. Not quite thunder, but a good size bigger than the top part of the body.

I've been underweight, I've been overweight. Nothing changes the fact that I've got some unfortunate proportions going on. It took me about 30 years just to learn to be a little ok with that.

But even the little bit of ok I've gotten with it has relieved a lot of pressure. I can only imagine what complete acceptance can do.

At 8:01 AM, Blogger Unacknowledged Genius said...

I bet just about every woman can identify with what you're saying, I know I do.

But like several others have said, no more than I have been able to gather from reading your posts, I can tell you're a beauty inside and out.

At 8:48 AM, Blogger Polyman2 said...

If I told you you have a nice body
would you hold it against me?

Hey, we only go around once-
got to make the best of what God
gave us. It comes down to have the will to change what you can, and accept what you can't.

At 9:00 AM, Blogger Spin_Doc1 said...

That was inspiring, thanks.

At 1:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, I get pissed off at my body. I didn't like it all that much to start with but the arthritis doesn't help. Its that friend I try to help along but resent once in awhile. I'm its caretaker.

At 10:00 AM, Blogger Maverick said...

Ditto on everything, except I'm not a large-bone-ded-ded person.



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