Though I have been dieting and exercising and seeing a lot of great results with that, I can’t tune out that negative voice in my head that tells me it’s never enough. Even when I lost over 25 pounds after leaving my husband, my saggy 10-month-postpartum skin still hung down, only more like an empty garbage bag than a round, inflated prune.
I look at myself naked and hear the same negative voice speaking; maybe it is the emotional abuse I’ve dealt with. I can’t tell anymore because the voice sounds like my own now.
I remember days before I had kids when I wasn’t happy with my body, either, but now I look at women who never had babies and, frankly, envy their smooth midsections. I long for something that probably was never mine – I didn’t wear bikinis or show myself off. I don’t think it’s physiologically possible for me to look like a tall, thin model.
I suppose everyone is after the unattainable ideal, no matter how irrational it is.
On a good day, my former spouse would say the stretch marks were “tiger stripes,” showing how much of a warrior I am. But I could never internalize that as he continually acted as if my body disgusted him, especially when I was pregnant. Then after I had the baby, he resented the post-pregnancy weight, telling me to work out and diet (though I wasn’t supported enough to find time to go exercise). Breastfeeding took so much effort and sometimes I’d get super hungry and didn’t make great food choices.
I feel frustrated because I am free from the abusive situation but I still can’t turn off the self-deprecation. I’m stronger than I have ever been, fitter than at any other point in my life.
My body brought forth the most beautiful children I have ever seen.
My body is a blessing, feeding and nourishing, comforting, and loving. I am a goddess. I am the source. I know instinctively that the bond between mother and child is the strongest on earth.
I remember growing up, with my mom telling me the beautiful stories of carrying me and my sibling inside her, of all the worthy sacrifices (though to her, it was all a blessing, not a sacrifice). I adored her with a type of reverence that I can see within my own daughter as she puts my jewelry and shoes on and walks around the house. Why can’t I just revel in these moments? I wish I could understand that just because my body is changing it doesn’t mean it’s changing for the worse.
I hope someday I can appreciate my body the way it is now. There’s a part of me that possesses that confidence and knows anyone who doesn’t appreciate all that I am can take a hike. I’m not all there yet. Until I am, I’ll try to be gentle with myself.