In the wake of the emotional turmoil of the last couple of days I’ve been doing a lot of processing. A lot of it hasn’t been pretty. But some things about my past behavior have become clear to me and I’m grateful because it means that I can choose new behavior in the future. As the saying goes, when you know better you do better.
My father made a lot of remarks to me about my body. The ones I described yesterday about my legs were just a small piece of what I heard from him, although those particular words were the most specifically memorable. The overall effect of it was this: through his words and his deeds, I learned that he didn’t respect my body.
And here’s what I did with that…
I learned to not respect my body.
That’s the new realization – the less-than-healthy relationships and the very unhealthy situations I’ve put myself in are a direct result of an unconscious belief that because my body isn’t a perfect size 6, I don’t deserve to be respected.
I can point to myriad examples of the trend.
A man who I had an ongoing sexual relationship with even though he wouldn’t admit to anyone that we were a couple and continued dating other girls…and then coming back and telling me about them.
A married man who came on to me, and I allowed myself to be come on to. While we were making out he told me, “You’d better leave or I’m going to end up raping you” and I took it as a compliment.
A boyfriend who would ogle other women on the subway and then whisper things like “I’d love to cum all over her stomach” in my ear.
A boyfriend who told me at the very beginning of our relationship that he wouldn’t wear condoms. I planned to get another form of birth control. What I asked in return was that we go to a clinic together and get tested for HIV and STDs. He got angry because he said that was a clear sign that I didn’t trust him. I stuck to my guns and we did get tested, but a man who doesn’t care enough about my health to make sure that I’m physically safe and mentally/emotionally at ease is not a good choice.
Yes, I was involved with some unsavory characters. But there’s a common denominator here and that is…
I didn’t respect myself, my body, or my emotional health enough to make good choices. I didn’t believe that I deserved anything better. My dad’s words started it, but I perpetuated it. Those guys couldn’t have treated me that way unless I consented to stick around.
So here we are. Writing this is out is an interesting experience. It’s a bit of a catharsis. I’m glad to see that I can write this without feeling nauseous, because for a long time I felt sick every time these thoughts came up. So healing has definitely happened.
The next level of healing is this – I deserve to respect my own body. I deserve to expect respect from others.
It is no longer acceptable to me to be in relationship with someone who doesn’t demonstrate respect for my body. The challenging part of that statement is that the first person I’m in relationship with is always myself. So it needs to start at home. It is no longer acceptable to me to be in relationship WITH MYSELF in a way that doesn’t demonstrate respect for my body.
I’m not even entirely sure what that means yet. But God has a funny way of telling me exactly what I need to know in exactly the moment that I need to know it, so I’m guessing that will be revealed to me soon.
If you’re still reading…wow. Thanks for sticking with me through this one. I know it’s not the usual uplifting fare, but this one is important to my own growth and healing. The fact that I can write this tonight is a miracle.