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Posts Tagged ‘loving body after child abuse’

Cave (c) Lynda Bernhardt Over the weekend, my family sat for a family portrait. Our church updates its pictorial directory every five years or so. If we will sit for a family portrait, then we receive a free church directory and a free 8 x 10 photo of our family. Considering that we never have family pictures taken, we can thank our church for getting us to actually sit and do this as a family.

I used to hate to get my picture taken. I was always so critical, especially of my weight. I was very self-conscious and felt an enormous amount of self-hate whenever I looked at a picture of myself. I thought I would have these issues again.

When we first signed up for our time slot, I remember calculating how many pounds I could lose before picture day. I do not diet because doing so only fuels my eating disorder. I also do not weigh myself for the same reason. Instead, I try to be loving to my body, which includes maintaining my weight to continue fitting into the same sized clothing.

So, for the first time in … probably ever … I did nothing to prepare for picture day. I fixed my hair and chose a nice shirt, but I did not turn this picture day into something that took on a life of its own. I did not worry about this being the picture that I would be stuck with for the next five years until we have another picture taken.

Instead, I thought about how this picture will be an accurate representation of who I am today. Depending upon where I go tomorrow, the picture could show how much I have improved my body by losing weight, or I might look back and think about how great I looked then compared to now. Regardless of which way it goes, this is who I am today, and I do not need to pretend to be something I am not.

After sitting for the photographer, the three of us got to choose which pose we liked the best. For the first time in … definitely ever … I did not judge my weight. I did not even freak out when the photographer said that we could pay more to touch up our blemishes like our wrinkles. I noticed that I had some crow’s feet in my picture, but I did not care. I told the photographer that we liked our blemishes and would pass on the touch up.

On the drive home, hub was all freaked about how “old” he looked, but I was completely okay. I am still okay, and that is amazing for me. This is one of those moments where I can celebrate how far I have come. What my body looks like is not the same thing as who I am. While I love and care for my body, it is just a body. My body does not define me.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Purple flowers (c) Lynda BernhardtI have come to the realization that I still do not love my body. My feelings toward my body became distorted after a childhood filled with child abuse. I used to hate my body, but no longer feel that way. I believed that the absence of hatred was the same thing as loving my body, but I am realizing that it is not. While the cessation of hating my body was a huge positive step, it was not enough. I still need to learn to love my body.

I have stopped having negative thoughts to deride my body, and that was a huge step for me. I do practice yoga on a regular basis, although it has been more intermittent of late. I cannot even tell you why because I feel so much better whenever I commit to doing yoga every single day.

I see the lack of love toward my body in the little things. I will disregard my body’s need to use the bathroom while I focus on other things, even when there really is no good reason to wait to use the bathroom. I will eat foods that are tasty but not very nutritious, even when I have tasty healthier foods sitting the refrigerator. I will stay up past my bedtime for no real reason – just to do it.

None of these things is earth shattering. It is not as if I have a death wish or anything. In most respects, I treat my body much better than I used to. Nevertheless, stopping being harmful is not the same thing as showing love. It is a step in the right direction, but it is not love.

So, I am going to try A-G-A-I-N to be more loving toward my body. My body really has served me well. I am in much better physical shape than I probably deserve to be in light of the things my body has endured, both from my abusers and from me.

In the past, one thing that has worked for me is to think of my body as my child – as an entity separate from myself. If I would not let my child do something to his own body, then I should not let myself treat my own body that way. I will try that again and see how it goes.

Related Topic:

How to Love Body After Childhood Abuse

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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