Apparently now that I’ve managed to dress myself without buying anything new for a few weeks I’ve found something old and familiar to obsess on. My body, and all my physical imperfections. Namely, my stomach. And, newly, my arms.
I went to the beach with the boys this morning—it was the first such outing of the season. They took their shirts off and rolled around in the sand while I lied down myself, and lifted my shirt to catch some vitamin D on my midriff. It felt so good to feel the sun on my skin, on the part of my body I most, let’s call it what it unfortunately is: detest. To expose my stomach to the rays of the all-healing morning sun and the breeze off the lake was an amazing feeling. I felt like a 16-year-old, carefree and sunning face-up on a chaise lounge in a bikini at my boyfriend’s country club, just after he’d asked me not to turn over because he wanted his friends to see me. (He was and still is wonderfully empowering of me and all women, but he was, after all, a 17-year-old boy…)
I then got the idea to snap a photo of my kids playing in the sand and, in the glare of that wonderful sun, I didn’t realize I caught part of my midriff in the photo. As soon as I saw the dimpled, stretch-marked skin of my abdomen, which felt so young and lean in the moment, my heart fell. Darkness descended and the familiar old meanness began. “See? That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you? Do you really think you should’ve had a couple bites of the boys’ muffin this morning? You can forget your dreams of running in a sports bra or wearing a bikini this summer–or ever. For. Get. It. That part of your body is hopeless. It’s never been much to look at but, after two kids, it’s stretched out and there’s no saving it. You’d have to tummy tuck your way to halfway presentable abs. Ha. It’s a one-piece for you, missy. For.ever.”
Oh, how I dislike it when this voice pipes up. She is so abominably mean. I thought I’d cured myself of her appearances, but she’s still in there. Why is this coming up now? Does it have to do with the fact I’ve sworn off retail therapy for three months? Is it that, without having a little bandaid to slap on my physical insecurities, I’m having to look at them? It’s hard and not very fun. And, to get me through, here’s what I know: for me, meditating makes it all better. As hard as it is to get quiet, the act of sitting in stillness will put me back in touch with what’s real. And none too soon. Because my inner mean girl* needs an eviction. Or, even better, a transformation.
*To be fair, I got the phrase, “inner mean girl,” from two amazing women who are transforming and empowering thousands of people with their work. Amy Ahlers and Christine Arylo started the Inner Mean Girl Reform School and it’s worth checking out here.
Note: This post is part of a series about my experiences in uncovering my own innate enough-ness. For three months, I am abstaining from frivolous material purchases, accepting all blessings that come my way and focusing on gratitude for all that I have. The idea came to me in a meditation-induced haze and it has nothing to do with politics or morality. I’m just a girl who’s hoping to: separate the association between looking good and being good; get comfy with receiving; become a glowingly grateful human being; get acquainted with my own motives for material consumption; grow my understanding of when/why I buy things; and establish new habits that are more aligned with my values. We’ll see how this goes…