This week a client shared her distress and self-judgment around body image concerns rearing their head after years of solid eating recovery and body peace. First, I tried to reassure her that body image concerns does not negate her progress and stability in eating recovery. Then we talked about how (sadly) normal it is to have a resurgence of negative thoughts and fears about our bodies. Our relationships with our bodies are dynamic and ongoing. Sometimes these relationships are harder than other times. When new or familiar body image concerns arise, I try to practice self-compassion and frame this as an opportunity for growth.
In our body acceptance group, Embodied, I invited group members to write themselves a letter from the perspective of their own bodies. If your body could speak to you, what would it say? While I did not share it with the group, I also wrote a letter to myself from the perspective of my body. I will share this letter here in hopes that you may know our journeys with our bodies are always dynamic and growing.
I am so grateful for our decades of life and adventure together. I really appreciate all the work you have done to see me, respect me, and love me. It’s meant so much to feel your care back, as I continue to take care of you. I love when you invite me to play. I love how much joy I bring you. I love scaling mountains together and drinking in all the beauty our mother earth offers. I love how you see me as more than your earthly companion; you hold me with so much love and see me as a source of wisdom and growth for you.
Speaking of growth, I have a wish for you. As we have officially entered middle age, you notice how I am continuing to change. I know you tell me that this change is fine and expected. I also know you say this partly to reassure yourself that we’ll be ok. I know some of my health concerns are hard for you to accept but I appreciate your compassion as you try to be gentle with me and some new limitations. We’ve had to settle into a softer way of being in the world. I can’t operate with fearless abandon anymore and more is required for my recoveries. In this new space, you have noticed I have softened even more around all my edges.
This is what I want from you at this point in our journey together. I want you to see and recognize that I am your soft place.
We don’t need a world with more angles and edges. I offer you softness. We have done so many hard things together. And I am sure we will do even more. And now I want to invite you to find respite and comfort in the softness I offer you.
Consider how your children love my softness. I am their soft home. They gravitate toward me, snuggling into me, sitting on top of me, and smashing their noses into my soft stomach, breathing in the smell of their mother.
I am your soft home too.
I know there are parts of my aging that are unwelcome. Like the grey hair you try to hide under blonde highlights. And the annoying paradox of middle age acne. I know as we age and move away from the arbitrary cultural ideal of youth, paired with my increased needs and limitations, it is harder for you to love me as fiercely as you have.
I want to reassure you that I am still doing my best for us. I am navigating these new changes right along with you. I also want to remind you of what a privilege it is for us to grow older. Aging is a sacred gift and I am offering it to you. Let us age and understand that I continue to be strong for you, not in spite of, but actually IN my softness.
I look forward to many beautiful years ahead together.
If you feel you could benefit from more concentrated relational work with your body, I hope you will join me for our next session of Embodied: A body Acceptance Group. In this community, you will grow in your relationship to your own body as well as connect in healing ways with others who are on similar journeys! I am taking group sign ups this month and hope to hear from you!