Wouldn’t it be nice to think that once we deal with an issue it’s done…kaput…never to be seen again? Yes, that would be nice. Unfortunately it’s not very realistic. At some point, we find ourselves dealing with the same issue again and think – wait, didn’t I handle this? But we’re just at a deeper level of the metaphoric onion.
I’ve spent many hours, many days, many months dealing with my own issues of body image. Five years ago I couldn’t look in the mirror without complete horror and dread. Now most days I can appreciate what I see. I wrote a book about it, for goodness sakes, to help others walk the path that I had traveled. But that doesn’t mean that I’m immune. This weekend, it reared its ugly head again in a big way.
I was planning to go to an event last night that I’d been looking forward to for a couple of weeks. I’d get to see a friend who I haven’t seen in a while, meet her new boyfriend, and be in a new place meeting new people. I was excited to go.
During the afternoon I started doing an exercise I’d been given by a coach that involved identifying some of the voices I’m still hearing in my head that are left overs from my dad. I got to one that stopped me cold. Over and over in my head I kept hearing him say, “Boys don’t like girls who don’t have pretty legs.” This particular sentence has haunted me since I was a teenager. I happened to inherit the thick Russian legs from my mother’s side of the family. I’ve always been embarrassed by the fact that I don’t have pretty legs and I’ve been mad at my dad for putting that thought in my head.
Yesterday I realized that I’ve always unconsciously felt like a second-class citizen when it comes to dating because no one of great worth would want to be with someone who has legs like mine. I’ve never allowed myself to want the people who I truly want because they obviously wouldn’t want someone who doesn’t have long, thin, pretty legs. Never mind that I’m assuming that this so-called perfect mate is too superficial to notice all of my other great qualities. Which, by definition, means that they’re really not such a great mate after all.
As I started to get ready for this party last night, I had a full-blown clothing crisis. I wanted to look pretty and feminine, but in that state of mind, there was nothing I could put on my body that made me feel anything other than supremely unattractive. The weather outside started to mirror my internal drama and I finally begged off because I didn’t want to drive an hour and a half each way in the wind and rain. But the truth is that the old demons had reared their heads and I couldn’t shut them up.
All day today I had a song stuck in my head. I’m not so good with song titles and artists, but I always recognize a good hook and remember a few lyrics. In my head, over and over, I kept singing to myself the one verse…
“…you know, you know, I’d never ask you to change
If perfect’s what you’re searching for then just stay the same…”
Funny…it didn’t occur to me to think about the words I was singing, it just kept running in a loop in my head. When I got in the car tonight I turned on the radio…and what song should be JUST starting on the radio…but that one. I really listened to the words this time and felt like God was singing just to me, telling me exactly what I need to hear. Telling me that it’s okay, I’m okay, and there are plenty of people who love me no matter what size my legs are.
I’m feeling a little better now. When God takes the time to serenade you with exactly what you need to hear you can’t help but listen, right?!