If you’re anything like me, the shower is where you tend to do some of your most profound and effective thinking.
It’s where I come up with some of my most creative ideas, and often when I allow myself to feel things that I’ve been numbing or avoiding. I’m sure it has as much to do with the cathartic effect of water running over our bodies as it does with the total lack of distractions.
Recently, I undressed for a shower, and just so happened to glance in the mirror. I’m not sure why or what drew my attention, but my eyes were drawn to my post-pregnancy, post-breastfeeding, post-fat loss breasts.
I suddenly noticed something faint that I hadn’t seen there before—stretch marks.
Stretch marks aren’t new to me, by any means. I have them on my legs, butt, and hips. I’ve had some since I was a teenager and others occurred during my pregnancy nine years ago. But these little guys…they caught me by surprise.
It’s possible they’ve been around for ages, and I had simply never noticed them. Either way, this was the first I’d seen of them, so in an effort to demystify this situation, I figured I should question the person who probably looks at my body even more than I do: my husband.
I walked into John’s office, butt naked, shower cap on my head (I mean, let’s be honest, I rarely wash my hair) and asked, “Have you seen these before?”
John replied (quite nonchalantly, I might add) that he hadn’t. I’m pretty sure he was more preoccupied with the fact that I was standing naked in his office. In my perplexity, I replied that I hadn’t noticed them either. And then you know what I did?
I got in the shower and moved on with my life.
Because here’s the deal: I have stretch marks. I have cellulite. I have “imperfections.”
I also have a strong, capable body that boasts “Delts of Doom” and a lovely pair of “Quadzillas.” I can do pull-ups in the double digits and deadlift two times my bodyweight on command. I can do pistol squats and forearm stands like it’s my job; I’m athletic, fast, and reasonably skilled.
I honor my body. I never take movement for granted.
I am a powerful woman whose body is made from (among other things) skin, muscle, and fat—things that can and will sometimes change with the natural flow of life.
My weight has fluctuated greatly over the years:
My body has been through 27 hours of childbirth, two hours of pushing, and 12 months of breastfeeding.
I have brought a human into this world. He is compassionate, empathic, loyal, funny, curious and kind. He makes me laugh and gives me a reason to embody strength and be a powerful role model. He is proud to have a strong mom, and is actually the one to whom the credit for the “Because Muscles” motto goes to.
My body has a story, and only I get to decide what that story means.
What kind of story will I allow my body to tell? Will it be a sad, powerless story, in which I feel sorry for myself, nitpick every little detail, and feel less than worthy because of a few insignificant flaws?
Is it the kind of story where others’ opinions of my body affect my mood and threaten my inherent worthiness? Is it a story in which there are victims and villains, and I am out of my integrity? No.
My body tells a powerful story—a story of nurturing, growth, discovery and the multitude of things this body has accomplished over the years.
In the past, I’ve hated my body so much that I’ve gone into hiding; the shape of my body determined how I interacted in the world. I’ve allowed self-loathing and feelings of unworthiness to forge a path that wasn’t true to my heart. and I’ve let shame back me into a dark, secret corner.
As a recovering perfectionist, I’m often faced with these old demons. These demons of unworthiness caused me to be cruel to my body, to treat it like it just wasn’t good enough. I often felt if I could only be leaner, prettier, stronger, then perhaps I would be worthy of love.
That didn’t serve me well at all, and that’s not the story I want to tell.
The story I want to tell is far more authentic than that. My story is rooted in love and dappled with success, failure, laughter, and tears. My story is powerful and mine to both own and redefine.
It’s the story of a mother, a wife, a friend, a coach, a veteran, a colleague, and a woman imbued with radiant strength and relentless positivity.
Freedom from shaming my body, freedom from hating it into leanness, freedom from societal constructs of what a woman “should” be. Freedom to be 100% unapologetically, authentically me.
I have stretch marks.
And with that, I will keep moving forward on this beautiful adventure.
Think about your body and your story. What kind of story will you allow your body to tell?
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