“In the scenery of spring, there is nothing superior, nothing inferior.
Flowering branches are by nature some short, some long”. – Zen Proverb
There are five mirrors in my tiny studio apartment, not counting the reflective surfaces of the windows and my computer monitor. At work, I openly pause in front of framed posters or the microwave to adjust my hair, face, and clothes. I am aware of how I look and feel in my clothing, how my body carries its weight on my hips and my chest, how my cross bite makes my jaw hang little crooked. I poke and prod and squeeze and breathe shallow.
When I was 22, my first “real” boyfriend broke up with me because I had gained a little weight. I don’t exaggerate when I say a “little,” it was literally 5 pounds. But he could tell, told me I didn’t have any respect for myself, and ended our relationship. I lost 10 pounds in two weeks to get him back. (He ended up breaking up with me again three months later, but that’s a different story.)
Since then, I have struggled with the surface. Because my weight dictated my first and one of my more significant relationships, my mind was wired to believe that my weight dictates my happiness. Gaining a little weight made something that I treasured disappear so quickly. What if it happened again, or never begins in the first place, because of my weight?
This isn’t a constant mantra, but it is a familiar one. The fear ebbs and flows, always whispering around holidays, or when the sun disappears for months and my activity slows. But the whispering is getting quieter, softer, weak. The more I treat myself with respect, the more love I put into the world, the more will I have to quiet the voice. It will take time, and it may never go away completely. I am unraveling the thread with my fingernails, using my hands to clear away knots, softly and gently and slowly.