“In these bodies we live, in these bodies we die. Where you invest your love, you invest your life.” -Mumford + Sons
Our relationship to our bodies is complicated sometimes, isn’t it? It’s easy to get caught in the traps of comparison, ingratitude, and criticism. It makes so much sense that we fall into these patterns of dissatisfaction with our bodies because of the societal pressure and influence to look a certain way. However, as we invest more of our love into our bodies we will be able to live out fuller and richer lives.
One place that it is easy for me to slip into old negative patterns of comparison is at the gym. It seems that someone is always faster than me, stronger than me, or less red-faced than me (if you know you know). I have gotten a lot better over the years at appreciating my own body and what it can do, but these comparisons still sometimes come: an automatic thought pattern that is hard to shake. I have done a lot of work here and can quickly move towards thoughts that are more in line with my values, but I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes that takes active work!
The other day I got a text message from my fiancé. We talk about body image and eating concerns frequently because of my job. He was at the gym and said the following: “Everyone thinks from time to time, ‘I wish I could have that person’s body, or just swap out a few features.’ First of all, swapping parts would just produce a lot of Frankenstein’s monsters. Secondly, why would you want to trade a body that you have spent a whole lifetime learning, protecting, nurturing etc.? All the sports you’ve played, all the people you’ve hugged and kissed. All the injuries and diseases you’ve gone through was in YOUR body. There is just too much history to just not want it anymore. Even people that have really broken bodies or broken relationships with their bodies have enough positive history to make it all worth it.’
I recognize that people who have experienced trauma within their bodies may have a different experience. However, this text got me thinking a lot about what our bodies carry for us. Our bodies have been with us through every deep belly laugh, every hand hold, every excited & joyous emotion, every repaired bone or scar…our bodies have been a constant for us. They have been our partners throughout life and have carried both the good and the bad with us and for us. Our bodies have held our sorrows with us as they gushed tears of loss. They have felt our pain as they bled with us. Our bodies are incredibly protective and we, in turn, protect them as well.
Our relationship with our bodies is complicated and nuanced. However, if we can begin understanding our bodies as companions rather than antagonists, something changes. This perspective allows us a deep gratitude and appreciation for our bodies, including the scars and “imperfections”. I put quotations around that word because this sense of gratitude even changes the way that we view parts of us that may not meet societal expectations or standards. I think about my body and even specific parts that have been hard for me. Although I sometimes desire to “fit” better into what society expects, I think on a good day I would not trade my body or any part of it. We have grown together and loved together. In this body I will live and in this body I will die. I may as well invest more love into it if we’ll be partners for life.
Awake My Soul by Mumford & Sons