I started writing this piece on my way home from this amazing embodiment class that my daughter Teagan offers each Monday night in Santa Barbara. This embodiment class is about landing in the body. I take this class as often as I can. And on this night I landed pretty squarely into myself. I voiced this on my way home, dictating to Siri the appreciation that is unfolding for me for this vessel that houses my soul in a very different way than I have had for most of my life.
For most of my life I have had a love-hate relationship with my body. A secret hidden hate coupled with this mostly love for my body. There was always this conflicting juxtaposition because, though I found great fault in this body of mine—on a quite regular basis—I was/am quite proud of it.
I had/have a beautiful body. And didn’t realize that the hate of it was quite deep and quite strong because the love of it was quite deep and quite strong, too.
My body served me quite well. More than well. My body outdid herself. I performed in it, on the stage and in film and Tv. Print ads and photographs for artists seeking nudes. I modeled for drawing classes and walked the world in clothing that adorned my shape in ways that implied that I felt good. And I did. In that projecting-outwardly-and-receiving-outward-validation-in-return way, I felt really good. Like really, really good.
And this beautiful body of mine, it has been incredible for the things I wanted—and still want—it to do.
My body, it has been pushed to the limit in dance and in swimming running cycling and rowing and in movement and pole and in climbing and hiking and stretching extending bending and flexing. Anything my mind wanted to do, my body did it. Really well.
And I have not nurtured or cared for this body the way it deserved for most of my life.
I starved it. My body. I starved it. For years. And binged and purged it. My body. I binged and purged it. For years. I picked at it, my creative rendition of cutting. Mostly at my feet which is its own irony since, as a dancer, my feet are my trade’s foundation and yet, there I was, desecrating the mechanism for my movement. As a dancer you would think I would have loved on my feet more. But no.
I starved it. And binged and purged it. And picked at it till I hurt it.
And I broke it into pieces. My body was just pieces rather than being the whole.
I broke it apart into pieces at first in the mirror in the dance studio. Just my arm, or the line of my leg. But soon the pieces were just me anytime I looked in the mirror.
There I was. A piece at a time. And, of course, only the pieces that I didn’t like that day. My thighs because they didn’t allow my pants to fit just right. Lately it’s my neck because it looks old. And always my waist because…well just because I don’t like my waist.
That was the theme when I would find my pieces in the mirrored reflection—an “I just don’t like you” theme. And then I told this reflection of this piece of me in the mirror, “I don’t like you.” I said this to myself, to the mirror, to those parts of me that were the only parts I could see. “I don’t like you.” What a terrible way to start each day with this partner in body with me.
So, you see, I had a serious love-hate relationship with my body. And a deep distrust of whether it’s a safe place to land. This deep distrust, I believe it came before the hate part. Before I knew the hate part, I think deep in my bones, in that somatic way of wisdom, I knew it wasn’t a safe place to be. And so being grounded in it has always been a challenge for me and I mostly lived above my body for a lot of the time.
I work with some amazing practitioners and one of the themes is self-love. Another is internal safety. And I am focusing in on learning to ground into this space that is my body that is this container for me. And I am spending more and more time in this body of mine.
This is new for me. And, at first was very uncomfortable. But more and more, when I do land squarely into me, this feels really good. It feels so very good to be landing here, in this body, in this way.
I started this work over the winter. When things that were deep inside me started to come up and the opportunity for self-exploration felt doable and possible and practical and necessary and terrifying and did I say necessary? Because it was/is. And the goal was/is deep self-love and internal safety. With a focus on this now aging body and to not judge this book by its cover but to celebrate this amazing body that I have because of all the things it can do, rather than all the ways it can look.
And then as Spring sprung I fell into a deeper hole than the hole I was already in that I thought was deep already, and my body became this dangerous place. My body became the enemy.
I couldn’t look at it. I dressed in the dark of my closet space. I closed my eyes coming in and out of the shower. When I caught a glimpse of me, I cried.
There is the saying, it is always darkest before the dawn. I googled it. It’s not really true. It’s just a metaphor. But it’s a good metaphor. And it seems to be true for me in the metaphor way. What follows my darkest moments are always the brightest lights of clarity. When I am deepest in it, I know that the clearest wisdom is on its way.
The deeper I go into the hole, the higher I climb out of it.
And that’s the goal. I feel it. My soul feels it. For its own growth and for this loving acceptance of this body. To gain this deep, deep reverence and love for this body of mine—this amazing and capable and strong body of mine—I had to go all the way down to the bottom.
I had to hate this body fully before I could love this body greatly.
It’s like the balance tree. The idea of the balance tree is that the branches can only grow as high as the roots are deep. The one can’t be without the other. This feels like that. And my dark and light metaphor is the backdrop for my beautiful balance tree. My beautiful body tree really.
Mother, Wife, Friend, Sister, Daughter, Dancer, Rower, Runner, Dog and Cat lover.