Something has happened to my rich inner silence. I don’t know if it’s the fact that I’m nearing 50 years old or if I’m just changing but I used to have a very deep sense of silence in me. For a very long time, there was no inner dialogue. I never thought of myself as stupid if I made a wrong choice, I didn’t wonder why people would make the choices they do…I just didn’t think that way. I had a silent mind in terms of speaking to myself. In times of abject vulnerability I have been known to say things about myself that were less than kind but for the most part, I don’t carry the burden of self-hate. In my early life as a pre-teen and young adult, I did have a LOT to say inwardly about my outward appearance, which lead to an eating disorder. But that was a very long time ago. I silenced that voice that said I wasn’t worthy if I wasn’t “thin.”
There were grunts and groans in my soul, but none that expressed itself in a way that made sense. Until now. My mind has grown chatty. I have an opinion about everything, even if I don’t express it. My brain is on fire now with loads of inner dialogue. And yet, I’m surprised by it; thrilled to finally hear my own inner thoughts. How did this happen? What caused me to break from that joyful deep silence I enjoyed for so long?
I have never been one to NOT have an opinion. If you ask me a question, I’ll give you an answer. Dialogue with others I can do. It’s this interesting inner dialogue that has me intrigued. Nonetheless, I embrace this emerging new sense of self.
I often hear other people’s inner dialogue when they say things like, “I’m an idiot because I don’t know how to talk to others,” or “I look so ugly in that photo,” or “If I could do life over again…” fill in the blank.
How many of you have a sharp critical inner dialogue? It’s that voice that tells you-you’re not good enough, thin enough, pretty enough, smart enough, daring enough, and on and on. Those voices are cutting and designed to keep you in the dark about your true worth.
My dirty secret is that I don’t have a critical inner dialogue. I don’t second guess who I am, how I live, how I love, or even my own being.
I can state the obvious without attaching worth to it. Do you know how to do that? Take for instance the featured photo of my gorgeous daughter Shoshannah and me. The photo was taken on June 8th at her wedding. My son Noah was commenting to his girlfriend, “Mom doesn’t like to have her photo taken.” I had to think about that for a moment and I started to wonder why. I didn’t wonder why he said it, because it was true, I don’t like to have my picture taken…but why? I thought about that question from the time the first photo was taken until I got home last night from Maryland.
My inner dialogue got jump started. And I finally knew the answer! The obvious answer (which is wrong) would be that I don’t like the way I look. That’s not true. I actually love everything about my body and the way I look. It’s me. It’s who I am in the flesh. The real answer is that photos of me have never reflected who I am inwardly…but how can they? The whole thing almost feels like a weird riddle. So I don’t enjoy seeing photos of myself. It’s like that old saying, “Never judge a book by its cover.” Photographs feel like a betrayal to me. I don’t know if that makes sense, but that’s why I don’t like them. I never have, even as a child. I never liked having to stand and smile, or sit and gum it up for the camera. It feels weird and makes me feel out of place and completely uncomfortable. It’s a good solid reason why I don’t have loads of selfies. I don’t find enjoyment or pleasure in seeing photos of myself, but I do know that those who love me, want to see me in a photo. I much prefer to be behind the camera capturing moment to moment life as it happens. However, I will say that even if I’m behind the camera, I HATE posed photos.
Where was I? Oh, yes, being fat…
The beauty standards of the modern age would have you believe that because I’m fat, I must hate myself or devalue my own sense of self-worth. Even when I say out loud “I’m fat” or “I’m a big girl” or “Where’s the fat lady store, I need to get a dress for the wedding” I’m met with shock as though saying I’m fat was a bad thing. My worth is not tied to my outward appearance. Being fat is a symptom of having a mitochondrial illness. It is nothing more than a sign that something is seriously wrong with my body and I’m doing everything I can to figure that out.
I came to a place of body acceptance about four years ago. I didn’t always accept my body although I loved myself fully. I hated that it betrayed me at every twist and turn. Ever since I contracted Lyme’s Disease in 1993, my body has never been the same. I’ve spent half my life dealing with the ravages of autoimmune disorders, environmental sickness, mitochondrial problems, and the only thing anyone could see is what? My fat?
I’m fat. There, I said it. Now you say it and let’s clear the air, because it’s no secret nor is there anything to be ashamed of, unless, your personal worth is tied to how you look on the outside.
I’m also kind, exceptionally generous, wise, understanding, warm, intelligent, amazingly loving (even if you don’t deserve it), worthy, joyful, interesting, fully engaging, a good friend, very resourceful, a businesswoman, a mother, a wife, a lover, a healer, and one who doesn’t take this life for granted.
I. am. worthy.
What does your inner dialogue say about you? We hear people’s thoughts all the time. I often hear people who have lost massive amounts of weight shame their own bodies when they were big. They shame their former body betraying themselves with harsh words and criticism as though it’s all different now that they are thin. Not true. The devaluation and loathing of our physical form doesn’t allow us to accept ourselves as we are. We desperately want others to accept us as we are, and yet, we shame ourselves at every turn, betraying our own beings. And for what? The loss of a few pounds?
My inner dialogue inwardly stirred and started to rumble when my son’s girlfriend Aizlin sent me photos of me at the wedding.
What was stirring? Deep compassion and understanding for where I am in healing my body and feeling like my ankles were going to pop off in those shoes. Yes, that last part was a joke, but so very true. My body doesn’t handle environmental stresses very well and it always retaliates by exploding on me. Being gentle with myself is of the utmost importance if I am to heal.
I am not well, but I am getting better. Everyday day I get a little stronger. My heart feels like it will burst with each new day because I know I am one step closer to reaching my goal of complete healing.
Often people at my age look at photos of themselves or their peers and think, “You look so OLD!” and with that begins the journey of trying to look like they are 25 years old again. I don’t want to be 25. In 20 years I want to look back at myself in appreciation of where I was at that time in my life and how much I loved myself. I love myself enough to try new things even if they might seem crazy to others, all in an effort to stay off of all medications and steroids. I refuse to bow down to the illnesses that ravage my body. Instead, I boldly try to make my life better. Isn’t it amazing how we will go to the ends of the earth for our loved ones…walk through fire if need be, but when it comes to our own person, we won’t even act kindly towards ourselves?
Love and acceptance of our outer selves help to soothe the restless soul. A restless soul is one that longs for us to be fully present. It longs for us to say beautiful things about our own being. Our souls have immeasurable worth if only our conscious and unconscious minds would acknowledge it.
Our society has a lot to say about outward beauty. But outward beauty cannot instill a true sense of worth. It can only invoke desire and/or inspiration, and neither of those things feeds our souls or make us whole.
Let us strive each day to love ourselves more deeply. To silence the word “perfection” or “perfect” from our vocabulary because there is no such thing as perfection. Perfection implies that one can do no better, that they could never be more. We can always improve, strive to be the best version of ourselves we can be. That doesn’t make us perfect, but it does make our souls sing.