The words on my iPhone screen cut into me like a quick, dull blade: "When I saw how little body fat you have, I was worried that you would not be able to please me."
Fuck. Ouch. I felt my heart in my throat one moment, and in the very next, it was ablaze. All the hostile and shitty things that people had said to me about my body replayed in my mind, filling me with sadness one moment and rage the next.
In that instant there was nothing but the emptiness of not being enough. My fears spread across my chest and I could feel my weak, skinny knees want to buckle.
Part of me wanted to cry, the other wanted to reach through the phone and do severe damage to this man's body. This man who I had met on Tinder moments before. A man, I had in fact, never laid eyes on. I wanted him to hurt like he had hurt me. But that passed. Instead, I sent him a sarcastic message about my concern that his shoulders would not be broad enough, his cock not big enough, his tongue not strong enough. It was only after his follow-up message regarding my curves that I had the mindset to be more precise. But he had gotten to me, and that felt almost as bad as the initial insult. I had lost control. I had lost control over a meaningless individual who I had decided, in that moment, had power over me.
It is an interesting juxtaposition, to be in a place where I want to inspire people to love their bodies just as they are, but also to put myself in the position to have people make observations about my body that are less than charitable. To have to deal with the pain and the doubt that I feel when I get anything short of accolades.
But I can't be free if I am hiding. I can't feel powerful if I am keeping any part of myself protected. The inevitability of this is a fact of my life. I know that if I go into a mode to shield myself from bad experiences, a lot less of the good experiences come through, and I lose a part of the world that feeds me. I also lose a part of myself. This is the part that holds the space where I am my best. This is the part of me that is curious, playful, and easy to laugh. This is the part of me that I enjoy the most. I don't want to lose her, especially not because I am busy protecting her from inconsiderate or insensitive people.
I balance this against the critique I often get that my body is too toned, too strong, too healthy to really inspire. It is a narrow place to reside: between people who expect more and people who expect less. That is why I remind myself that either way, I lose if I try to cater to any of them. I know that some day, I will get the criticism and it won't hurt. I will get the criticism, and I will understand immediately that it is more about the person giving it than it is about me.
The best I can do is work to feel good about myself; my body, my decisions, my life. I know, in the end, it is not about how I look, because I have looked much better and felt much worse. It is only now, when I have made the decision to accept and love my body, to forgive myself my momentary losses of control, and put myself into a position to actively engage in my life as often as possible, that I understand that I could look like anyone, like anything, and be profoundly happy or unhappy.
It is my choice, and I must train my mind to get there. My heart waits. I can feel it, in this place of easy laughter and curiosity. This place of strength and quiet will. This is my practice. It will always be a movement forward, or back, but as long as there is movement, I can live with that. As long as I can accept this as a practice, I give myself permission to mess up, to momentarily lose control, or lose my ability to forgive. If my mind is engaged in this training, there is hope in my heart. In the end, I know I am working for the woman with the heart that wants to engage.
And I know that she is worthy of this work.
Do you know this of yourself? The first step is waking up to this. Take it.
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