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Lovin’ the curves

May 25, 2010

I am falling in love with the curvy botticelli beauty I see when I look in the mirror.

This has been a surprise for me. As I mentioned in this interview with the amazing Christine of Blisschick, I’ve never really liked mirrors. Mostly I’ve regarded them as necessary evils that help me make sure I don’t embarrass myself too much in public. I’ve never been able to celebrate what they reveal to me.

But things are changing. This morning after my refreshing post-bike-ride shower, I stood in front of the full length mirror and realized there’d been a significant shift in the way I respond to that image. I like what I see. I’m fond of my curves, my flaws, and my jiggly bits. Sure they’re not perfect, but they’re me and they’re beautiful in their own way.

The last couple of months have been quite remarkable in what they’ve revealed to me. This post was about some of that learning – how I’ve begun to recognize how separated my mind/body/soul are.

As I was processing the answers to Christine’s questions, I realized that there was still some old baggage I was carrying around – stuff that was contributing to the disconnect.

Twenty-two years ago (exactly half my life, incidentally), I was in the best shape I’ve ever been. I was training for a triathlon, in which I would do the cycling (56 miles, I believe) and other teammates would do the running and swimming. I was tanned and muscular.

Unfortunately, two days before the race, an intruder broke into my apartment during the night and raped me. It was one of the most horrible moments of my life, and I’m just now realizing what long term impact it had on me. I was determined to still participate in the triathlon, and even drove out to the town where it was held. But my neck hurt too much (from the intruder’s attempt to choke me to death) and so I had to give it up.

I did a lot of healing after that, and I was pretty sure I did all the right things to process it. I wrote like a mad woman, talked to alot of people, and even wrote a play which was produced in my university’s theatre about the experience.

But what I’m realizing now is that most of the healing I did was in my MIND and not my BODY. I didn’t really give my body sufficient space to process the hurt that she received at the hands of the rapist.

The year after the rape, I didn’t bike as much, and each year it became less and less of a priority. I immersed myself in my studies, my career, and (eventually) my life as a wife and mother. I spent a lot of energy trying to convince people I was smart and capable. I took on more and more leadership roles, and let my mind play centre stage in my life. I didn’t realize that to live fully, I’d need to give my body space once again. I buried the body hurt beneath layers of food and fat and avoidance.

About seven years ago, I started biking on a regular basis again, and was reminded of how good it feels to pedal, with the sun on my face and the wind in my hair. It was good – but it still wasn’t everything I needed to do to reclaim the body I’d left behind 22 years ago.

This Spring, new things have been surfacing, and as I mentioned in this post, I’ve read some books that have opened doors in me that I didn’t realize I’d slammed shut 22 years ago. I have become awakened to the disconnect between body, mind, and soul.

Half way through answering Christine’s interview questions, I went to my bra-burning birthday party. I had some time to kill before I got there, so I wandered along the river. Leaning against a low stone wall, I had an epiphany. These are the words my body spoke to me… “Of all of my five senses, I trust the sense of touch the least.”

I’m still processing exactly what that means, but in the meantime, I’m doing my best to change it. I’m closing my eyes and running my hands gently over rough stone walls. I’m wrapping myself in the soft silk blanket I bought a few weeks ago and noticing the way it feels against my skin. I’m welcoming my husband’s carress in a new way.

One of most important things I’m doing is feeling the touch of my fingers on my own skin in a new way. I’m spending time lathering sweet-scented lotion all over my body. I’m enjoying my shower more.

When I catch my mind whispering lies to me, like “that athletic woman on the bike that just passed is probably surprised that someone with such a large ass is riding a bike”, I reach out and touch the offended part of my body in a non-verbal apology. (Try it! You might be surprised how good it feels, even if you have to sneak a touch in public.)

It’s all been quite healing, and now I can stand to look in the mirror in a new way.

Twenty two years ago, an intruder did more than just rape my body – his actions damaged my mind/body/soul connection, made me bury a whole lot of body hurt, and shattered the trust I place in my own sense of touch.

This summer – on my bicycle, in my weekend morning runs, in the way I connect with food – I’m working on healing those broken pieces. Like the song says in my last post, “I want to live where soul meets body”.

14 Comments leave one →
  1. May 25, 2010 1:11 pm

    I wish you much healing, Heather. You have been through so much! It is exciting that you are at a point where you are ready and your body knows that it is safe and has the energy to begin the healing process. I took strength and inspiration from hearing your story today. Blessings and love, O.

  2. May 25, 2010 1:57 pm

    I wish you continued strength and healing.

    For myself, I find that I trust my body very little – getting better, but I still trust my mind more – and maybe the things that you are doing can help me as well. Thank you for sharing them.

  3. May 25, 2010 2:05 pm

    Dear Heather,

    What a beautifully written, moving post! Thank you for sharing your journey with us, and for trusting us with your thoughts, feelings, and memories. It is wonderful to read the post you’re writing from a position of empowerment and strength. Congratulations!! I wish you much joy, as always. Thank you for inspiring us all through your writings.

    Shahrzad (@careerconsult)

  4. May 25, 2010 4:41 pm

    Hi, Heather –

    Your words and your courage inspire me! I fully understand what you mean about being so divorced from one’s body . . . integration has been a huge part of my healing journey!

    Thanks for sharing!

    – Marie (Coming Out of the Trees)

  5. May 25, 2010 7:07 pm

    I found your blog via your interview with Christine. And I have to say I really think this post is amazing. It takes a lot of courage to see things clearly when it’s easier to hide away from the things you think will hurt you. It is a powerful thing to be able to move beyond the confines of the small world you’ve been living in because of fear. You are doing that with your actions and your words and I can relate! I wish you all the very best, because from this point forward, things are only going to get better 🙂

  6. May 25, 2010 8:07 pm

    oh so beautiful and touching, heather. your awareness of the connection between your mind body and spirit reveals a deep sense of self, which that rapist all those years ago cannot take away from you. the love and tenderness you show your body with your non-verbal apology…if only we all could practice this…what a wonderful series of steps you’ve taken towards your self, my friend. so beautiful, you are!!

  7. May 26, 2010 7:39 am

    Yes. Yes. YES!

    I realized after returning to dancing that when I would dance and then be in front of a mirror afterward that I could actually see myself as beautiful.

    That is even hard to write.

    But after an hour or more of immersing myself in movement, when I look in the mirror, I am RADIATING LIFE and TRUTH. I am glowing.

    This realization only has made me more committed to this path.

    I can feel that same commitment emerging in your writing, Heather, and I know what an exciting time this is. It feels precarious but it is also just so damn exciting. Go with the excitement. Let yourself GO. We FEEL precarious but WE ARE NOT.

  8. May 26, 2010 2:26 pm

    I’d write something profound, but I can’t see the screen or keyboard very well right now.

    The athletic woman is probably thinking, “You GO, girl!”

    So am I.

    Love and continued healing to you.

  9. May 26, 2010 8:08 pm

    i love how parallel our paths are! recently, i have also been much more aware of the things that touch my body. when my doggy died (see my post, i realized that i could no longer rely on him to slow me down and be with myself, to stroke and pet and feel sensation. i realized that i have to do this for myself now. Eckhart Tolle has a great book about how our pets are the “guardians of our Being.” since then i’ve been much more aware of of giving myself tender strokes, of feeling the water on my body when i bathe, the grass on my skin, my body’s movement… it’s a beautiful thing and a very intimate relationship.

    i love the idea to touch the part of my body that i am judging–to go against that darn inner judge and love me instead of criticizing me. what i usually do is sense into my body to the aliveness, the sensitivity that is always there, that is beautiful and accepting and loving.

    it’s lovely to share the path, katy

  10. May 28, 2010 3:04 pm

    You are such a strong, beautiful woman. I wish I could take your self-assurance and instill the philosophy into all young women (myself, included). I am slowly getting there, but have ways to travel.

  11. June 2, 2010 1:41 am

    Beautiful and real and honest and brave and strong and gentle.
    I love the way you pat yourself with affection after ego has had its moment of being not so kind, that is so caring and nurturing and respectful. I intend to embrace this way of being. I love it.
    Thank you

  12. June 2, 2010 7:50 am

    This was beautiful and profound and helpful.
    Thank you for sharing, for your honesty and hope.

  13. June 2, 2010 8:43 pm

    THIS is breathtaking! I honor you.

  14. toliveinspired permalink
    June 9, 2010 11:39 am

    Beautiful, honest, raw and full of courage and healing for all reading it as well..

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