I have talked about coming out of the pixie closet. I got brave enough to call myself an Intuitive years ago. Now I am coming out of the Goddess closet.
I know. Everyone is using that phrase. The Divine Feminine is all the rage now and the topic of many book circles and encounter groups lately.
My career as a psychotherapist did not lend itself to even a moderate amount of verbal or visual self-disclosure. Lop onto that, my self-image as a woman with disabilities and this has left me feeling like a part of me has literally been closed off- that only my closest friends and family recognize me as a sensual being. But I am all of that- cerebral, geeky, a sarc warrior and lymphie, a wise woman, now at the age of sage and crone, AND I am finally completely okay in my own skin. I think this is an important message to impart to others who may be struggling with having a positive body image. I am beautiful despite the cracks and blemishes in my veneer.
In a recent course I took we examined the topic of body image- culturally, spiritually, sociologically psychologically and of course, up close and personal. It’s the personal bit I am sharing here. As with all of our assignments we were encouraged to share as we felt comfortable doing so. This assignment, while prompting me to feel utterly vulnerable, also allowed me to view myself through the lens of grace and gratitude.
Stand in front of a mirror and look at your body. Note the judgments, thoughts, criticisms, loving thoughts that come to you as you look at your body. How do you look at each part? At the “faults” or the irregularities, at the strong parts and the weaker parts. Do you love one part more than another? Think about all of the work and activity your body engages in each day to get you through the day. Let yourself imagine new ways to see and envision and appreciate your body.
I read this assignment last night before I went to sleep. I woke up at 3AM with a whopper of a headache. It happens more and more these days. So I got up and prepared for a hot shower and peppermint essential oil massaged into my scalp. I stood under the hot water for at least 30 minutes. I got out of the shower and since it is winter, I thought it best to dry my hair. And that’s when I looked in the mirror and remembered this assignment. My face and neck were swollen, puffy eyes, jowls, chubby cheeks, and head pounding so hard I thought surely I would see it pulsating.
When I got to the bedroom I looked at all of me in the full mirror- looking rather bedraggled. My tummy was round and swollen, my foot and leg- the usual, but even a tad more puffy. My elbows too. It’s the lymphedema. When I have a full-on flare it causes my sinuses to swell too.
So I took me all in, quite a looker, NOT! But, it all works and I know how to work it so I will be okay in a few hours- hot tea, plenty of water, and cabbage broth (ick but it works). My loved ones would say, “Oh I can hardly notice!”
At 58, on a good day, in dim light or with a foggy lens, I can still pull off a bikini, but if I am honest, I still may be incredibly shy to do so. My weight is what it should be, if anything, I have a hard time keeping weight on when my immune system goes wackadoo.
My skin is getting crepey and moles and such are popping up everywhere. I thought I had inherited my father’s olive skin. I did. Sort of. But the older I get my mother’s freckles and moles are making a show. My hair is mostly brown but with a gray streak in the front. I don’t use hair dye (allergic) but even if I did, I have been told that streak won’t color well. It’s a “birthmark” and my hair stylist says it’s in vogue. “People pay me to put that streak in their hair!” Ok. I won’t fret then.
My face, when not swollen, occasionally has the red butterfly rash, also common with autoimmune. I don’t wear makeup anymore (that was a hard day when I gave it up). I am allergic to even the finest makeup for sensitive skin. I am good with nothing on my face now. I can’t imagine wearing makeup again.
My neck is wrinkly. My ears don’t want to be pierced anymore. Earrings always insult and I end up with sore lobes. My teeth are good but the overbite and gap between my two front teeth is more prominent now, even after having braces twice. My eyes, when not swollen like today, are my grandmother’s eyes. I never saw that until these past few years. I look more Greek than I ever did before.
My hands and feet stay achy most of the time- I broke my foot in 3 places 5 years ago so now I have a weather barometer that never disappoints. I know when the rain is coming! Since the pandemic my work had such an uptick that I literally have a ganglion on my right wrist.
My back does not bend as easily anymore either. And there are days when I just ache all over- like the flu. That comes with sarcoidosis and a wonky lymph system. Some days it hurts to touch my skin.
The pandemic has left me wearing stretch pants and long sleeve tees though usually I love being fashionable. That too has gotten harder- no heels, just flats, all loose clothing and I can hardly stand to wear a bra now because I swell, even with the loosest garment. As a teen I thought my life would be a bit more tolerable if I had larger breasts. Now I am grateful I do not.
I do everything I can to take care of me, this body, my temple. And for all my body has been through, it serves me well.
Love the skin you are in.
Embrace who you are. Love your body because it is the temple that houses your very beautiful soul. Rid yourself of shame and guilt. Decide to live your best life. Opt for a wellness lifestyle that expands you. Be who you are. Become the best version of you.