I still remember the first time I tied my shoes. I was so proud of what I had done! I was so happy I felt like I could fly. I remember the first time I rode my bike without training wheels, too. I remember the first time I hit a baseball, the bat's vibration stinging in my surprised hands. I remember the first time that I threw a perfect spiral. I remember the first time I did a handstand, a back flip, a somersault, I remember the first time I beat my brother in a race. I was so amazed at what my body could do. I was so proud of it. I loved my body.
I also remember the first time my body kept me from something. I was playing baseball with the boys. I was eleven and I was developing. The coach took one look at me and told me I couldn't play because I was a girl. My father argued with the coach, telling him that I was better than most of the boys. It didn't matter. My dad was pissed. I was mortified at my body. And it would not be the last time.
Since that day, I have been discounted for being a woman, for being a girl. I have been objectified, belittled, and otherwise marginalized. For a long time, it pissed me off. I thought it was some external battle I had to wage against the men of the world. I believed that the way I felt about my body and myself was wholly on other people.
But I was altogether wrong. At about 43, I realized that there was so much about myself, about my body, that I did love, so much about what I could do that was unique, significant and special, that the thing I had to work on, the thing I had to change, was how I let the world's brainwashed opinion effect me. I realized that I had to go from being reactive to being proactive. I realized that the only person who had to love my body was me. That the only experience of my body that mattered was my own.
From then on, instead of reacting to the way certain men treated me at work, instead of engaging with them on their level, I decided to not engage, to pull back, and to treat them like misbehaving dogs; just ignore them. I realized at a certain point that their bad behavior was not a reflection of my value, but a reflection of what they believed theirs to be, and I allowed them to have that.
I decided that all the messaging that I have access to, I can turn off. I can stop buying. I can shut it out. I can call bullshit. I can also prepare myself for it before I see it. I can set my mind to knowing full well that I am valuable beyond measure. I am beauty incarnate. I am unique in a way that must be celebrated. I do not need to compare myself to anyone else because in every situation, it is apples and oranges.
We are all a combination of skills, abilities and talents. A multitude of integrity, courage and depths unknown. We are connected in this way. We all have so much in us. We all have potential.
The trick is going forward behaving as if we have value, because to some extent, we have all been treated as if we don't, men and women alike, and we are all just trying to get past this. We are all trying to get past the programming that tells us that we are not good enough, programmed by people who thought that they were not good enough. People who could not see beyond their pain.
We must learn to see beyond our pain. We must find a way to rise above our fears. There is no other way. Fighting each other will not solve it. This must come from within. This one thing, this determined focus for our betterment, must be our practice. It must be our practice to stop fighting each other; to stop fearing each other. There is nothing outside of us that is more frightenting than what is contained within; but we distract ourselves by telling a different story.
The distraction throughout our history has been a story of the other; fear the other. Hate the other. Anyone who does not look like you, think like you, buy shit like you, cannot be trusted. People who have less, people who have more, people who believe in different gods than you are seen as threats. As if the other is not in some way linked to you. The other distracts you from yourself; from the fear that you have regarding what is inside of you. The truth of this is painful; hard to accept, but true nonetheless.
As for my body, I do love it. Even as I watch it age, I am grateful for it. I have had an extraordinary life thus far, and seeing that has made my life that much better. I have come from a place of self-loathing to this, and in order to not fall back there, I take time for myself, before my day starts, to set myself up for success. I know that if I am going to believe in myself, I must use Jedi-like mind strength and ward off the invasive forces that seek to make me doubt my value. This is the unfortunate way the world is. For now.
But, if the individual can choose out of love instead of fear who they want to be, if people can truly love and accept themselves, they will be able to do this for each other. The fear of the other will vanish. That is my goal. To eradicate the fear of the other.
When I die, I want the memory of my body to be of a strength that was impervious to hate and fear. I want the memory of my body to be of a strength that was based in love.
This is the deal. If the world is gonna change in the way I feel I can, I am going to have to ask you to share this in whatever way that you can. Tweet it. FB it. Email it to a friend. Cut and paste the link. Send it to people who can put it in from of other people. Let's work together on this one, people.
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