Yesterday, I looked at myself in the mirror and was unhappy with what I saw. I’m working through my own fat phobias, but when I saw my body through my eyes, I felt really … bad. I’m at the heaviest I’ve ever been, after having a whole life of seeing myself as skinny. In the last five years, I’ve put on 30 pounds, and I am so discouraged about being able to lose it.
As I stared and felt my self esteem plummeting, my husband told me to stop staring, and offered this appraisal: “No, you’re not as thin as you used to be. You have a lived in body.”
At first, I was offended. “Lived in” sounds like old (another -ism I’m working on). But as I thought about it more, I understood.
When I think of my home, it’s lived in. The couches are cushy. The rugs cover cold hardwood floors. My family surrounds me in pictures. Fifteen plants provide clean air. I have TV tables. My children have spaces that reflect them. This home meets almost 40 years of work toward this point. When I leave my house, I’m happy to return.
And my body is the same.
Lived in. Comfortable and welcoming to three healthy children.
Lived in. Housing my heart, both the physical and spiritual. Allowing it to beat strongly to keep my body moving, strongly to keep my spirit open, letting in God and hopefully expressing his love and openness to others.
Lived in. Carrying intellect (I hate saying this, but I’ve been told it’s true.) Giving me a tool to teach and write about things both of scholarly importance and personal revelation. Five years ago, I was just finishing a PhD. Today I’m a professor. Doing what I’ve always want to do.
Lived in. Attracting a spouse and a partner who I know loves me and thinks I am beautiful. Knowing that he does this not in spite of how I see myself, but because he sees the same thing and revels in it.
Lived in. Comforting to my children.
Lived in. Holding a face that dogs love to lick (yuck).
Lived in. Thriving through three moves, three jobs, making a home in each.
Lived in. Holding almost 40 years of experience, both good and bad, kind and ugly, opened and closed, depression and mania, anxiety and calm, jealousy and generosity.
I am not always feeling well in it. I have back pain, stomach aches, migraines. Like a living room, my lived in body could use a decorating refresh, a re-arranging, a creative boost. Like a couch, it could use new cushions to be comfortable. A cleanse like a steam cleaner on the rug. A dusting to brush off the dirt.
When I look in the mirror next, I challenge myself to see a lived in body that has seen good and bad but that it still here. How it doesn’t look like it did five years ago, because I’m not where I was five years ago.
I am going to work on celebrating myself as lived in. Embracing that it’s carried me here. Believing that it will carry me going forward. Loving it for what it’s done for me. Praising it for keep going.