How I learned to love my body

Written by: Jorinde Berben
Image credit: Kathleen Demey

I have quite an average body. I’m at a healthy weight, but not super athletic. I have cellulite, and starting arm flabs, and if you’d asked me a year ago, I would’ve probably said ‘yes’ to a free boob-job if there was no risk involved.

Like many women, I’ve always been very good at noticing what I wanted to change about my body, and in what way it was failing me. It’s not that I was unhappy with it per sé, but rather that I was never fully content and therefore never 100% welcoming to my own body and, by extension, to my own physical experiences.

When I saw people around me who were completely comfortable in their own skin and expressed themselves as such, this made me more uncomfortable about myself. Loving my own body was something I tried to do, by looking in the mirror, by repeating affirmations, but it never really took. And because of that I never really treated my body with the care and attention it deserves.

Until a few weeks ago.

I had set out a day with my best friend and partner to talk some issues through. We often do the kind of self-therapy I advocate in this blog. The focus of the day was on these issues, on the emotions and memories we struggle with, difficulties we still have within ourselves or within our relationship. We had a little bit of fresh fruit, some nuts and seeds and other snacks ready, but we didn’t plan any meals.

It was an intense day where the focus was completely on the emotional, and I didn’t really pay any attention to taking care of my body.
Yet, at the end of the day, as I got ready for bed, I noticed how my body had taken care of itself and taken care of me during that day.
I had unconsciously picked up enough food, healthy food, to nurture myself. I had at some point taken a shower, we had even done some shaking to release tension and danced for a while. I felt tired but not unwell.

Somehow my body had taken over control from me to take care of itself, and in that way it had enabled me to fully engage with my own subconscious and conscious patterns.

Realising this ,I felt an overwhelming gratitude for my physical body. I felt so grateful for how it took care of me that day, but also for holding all my thoughts and emotions; for bearing with me when I neglected it; for pushing through when I crammed too much into my schedule. I felt so thankful for the way my body gave my two wonderful children and took the heaviest load in caring for them.
And with that gratitude came an overwhelming feeling of love and care.

I’ve never loved my body more. Not for the way it looks or the way other people look at it, but for being the only home I have the privilige of truly inhabiting. And at the same time I’ve never felt more motivated to nurture my body, to take care of it and cherish it, not because I have to, but because I can’t think of a better way to be thankful.

In the full acceptance of where I am, lies the path to lovingly move forward.

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