“Tree trunk legs.”
“Why do you waddle like that?”
“Your ass isn’t as nice as it looks.”
“Your thighs are so big.”
“You have such tiny knees for such big legs.”
I’d like to say that these were easy comments to forget… That the multitude of compliments I received outweighed these stinging words. But… Somehow, as early as I can remember, I refused to wear shorts. As young as 11 years old, I duct taped each individual thigh before putting them into jeans so I could see what I looked like with skinnier legs.
I have no idea what the original trauma was. If it was a comment that hit me at a time when my heart was wide open. Or perhaps it was a physical or emotional trauma. I don’t know when it began.
But I know it only grew in time.
My discomfort with my legs turned to pure disdain. Disgust. Shame. I lost as much weight as possible and only when I was down to around 100 pounds did I think I was skinny enough to be sexy. Or even normal.
It’s taken years to unravel this knot. It’s as though it was wound so tight for so long that the thread caved into grooves for each intertwining piece, slowly morphing into a near-solid ball. Of pain, of fear, of shame.
It seems bizarre sometimes… To look back and realize the amount of power certain thought patterns had over me. I’m not completely free of them, but they rarely arise and are short-lived. Thankfully.
As part of this May, Myself, and I 30-Day Self-Love Experiment… I decided to challenge myself today. To really put to test all the self-love and body-image work I’ve done over the years.
I wore shorts. In public. All day.
This is something which, in the past, yielded many panic attacks. Even today I brought an extra pair of pants with me in the car, just in case.
To an outsider it may seem silly. It’s just shorts, after all. It’s just legs.
But over the years the balled up knot became magnetic, and its stories multiplied… Reaching outward like a spiderweb. It weaved its way through almost every aspect of my life. Relationships, professional atmospheres, even following my dream — all these were impacted by my severe lack of confidence. My shame of my body. I wore it like a thick, dull layer of skin… Doing whatever I could to get people to look away from me.
Every now and again I’d jump out of my shell. I’d post videos or pictures or wear a sexy outfit to hang out with my boyfriend. But this was always some Hail Mary attempt at freeing myself of the web. Of the knot.
It always yanked me back.
I spent so long trying to find out the “why” behind it. Trying to pinpoint the issues and counteract them with positive affirmations. Sure, it all helped. But it wasn’t until I started accepting myself fully… ALL of myself – including the shameful thinking and body image issues… It wasn’t until that acceptance and allowance that the knot started to loosen. The stickiness of the web lost its tenacity.
Compassion for myself is what has loosened the knot. I haven’t had to tug or cut or untie anything. (I’m not saying my past efforts were meaningless or pointless. I very much appreciate all the effort I put into healing work over the years. Also, all that effort led me to where I am now… Which is a place of surrender. Allowance. Acceptance. Mostly because I got too damn tired of doing it the old way.)
Rather than trying to dig deep and figure shit out and FIX the problem, I started viewing myself as if I had no problems. Even the issues or the pain or the old stories — what would happen if I loved that, too? If I accepted that with the same open arms that I accept the humor and the artistic talents?
I’ll tell you what happened.
I went out into public today – in the midst of PMS week while severely exhausted from a handful of life curveballs – in shorts. And I did so with my shoulders back. I did so free of fear, free of shame, and free of caring at all what other people thought of my legs. In fact, I forgot I was wearing shorts.
It was a non-issue.
I truly never thought something like this would be possible. It was such an obsession for me. It held such power over me. I see now that the power it held over me was a dire scream coming from my inner wounding. “Love me, please. Tell me I’m okay as I am. Keep me safe.”
The more I tried to “fix” myself, the more I perpetuated the idea that I was broken.
Compassion and love for myself are making mind-blowing shifts in my life. I can’t wait to see what the next days and weeks hold.
Oh and also… I stopped by a dance studio and am signing up for dance lessons. The season starts in August. I’ll be nearly 33 years old at that time. Starting dance for the first time since I was 5. (I’ve wanted to do it my whole life.)
I am giddy.
I never knew I could feel the freedom I feel now. And it’s no longer contingent upon my mood or what’s going on in life. Sure, there are days and situations where acceptance is a little tougher to swallow… But, generally speaking, I’m learning to breathe into and accept what I feel and think in any moment. To make space for my present state, whatever it may be.
In doing so, a wellspring of life is awakening from within me. And I’m gonna’ jiggle these beautiful thighs all over the dance floor to celebrate.