Sunday, June 23, 2013

The weight of shame

It took my eyes a minute to adjust to the dim lights of the Lululemon store before I spotted a friend of mine. Instinctively I walked over and began unrolling my yoga mat beside her, smiling broadly until I realized we were front and center in a room of roughly forty other people. As my eyes scanned the space I felt a lump form in my throat and in awkward haste I mumbled something about finding a different spot, hauling ass to a less-visible corner of the room. It's funny how sometimes we don't realize the extent of our body issues until we catch ourselves in moments such as these. Even after losing 60+ pounds, there are days when I'd rather be invisible than be seen.

I found that day's yoga class to be particularly challenging, as evident by the growing puddle of sweat collecting at the edge of my mat. My frustration built steadily as the yogi called out the names of poses I did not recognize and the women on either side of me gracefully contorted their lithe frames on cue. I did everything within my power not to focus on the students around me and instead completed the poses to the best of my ability. By the time we reached shavasana I was both physically and mentally exhausted.

Look ma, no sleeves!
As I closed my eyes and let my mind wander, my thoughts turned again to my own body issues. Two weeks ago I decided to push myself way outside the bounds of my comfort zone and wear a tank top to yoga. I honestly can't tell you the last time I've been out in public with my arms completely bare (other than at the beach but even that is infrequent). The thought alone made me sick to my stomach but my twitter fam was so supportive and encouraging that I took the step jump outside of my comfort zone. Soon enough I was so absorbed by the yoga class that I didn't give much thought to what I was wearing. Mentally, that day was a huge success. I am committed to change and therefore to doing things that scare me because that is where progress is made. Much of my fear lies in the unknown but often the expectation of fear tends to be far worse than its reality. That was mostly the case in regard to my tank top experiment.

Anyway, it was with great relief that I found myself resting on my back, eyes closed in shavasana. I've heard that a lot of people use this time to meditate or let their minds go blank. As a certified control freak, this is not an easy task for me but on this day shavasana did provide some clarity. As I considered my own issues with my body I focused on the one thing that has been a constant for me both now and at my heaviest weight - shame. I was ashamed of how I looked then, ashamed that I allowed myself to get to that place, ashamed that it took me so long to change, that my change happened so slowly and that I'm still not where I'd like to be. I couldn't let go of my "before" long enough to see the "after". That is some heavy shit to carry around, infinitely more so than the pounds I've already dropped.

As my breathing deepened I vowed to look back more positively on my experience; to be proud that I did make those changes and that I have come as far as I have. If I don't want my appearance to be scrutinized or judged by others I sure as hell can't allow that behavior from myself. A deep sigh escaped my lips, as if releasing the emotions I've held on to for so many years. The yogi's voice broke the silence of the room and as I opened my eyes, I smiled...

"Before" and "During" ... To be continued

4 comments:

  1. I was going to go to bed then I saw your post! CONGRATULATIONS!!!!! I'm super proud and jealous of you :) You are brave and I know it took a lot to actually post these pics! You are wonderful! I would write more but I'm sleepy. I hope you know I am proud of you!

    xoxoxo!

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  2. Great accomplishment so far bang, keep it up.

    And keep that confident, sassy-pants attitude as well. I love it!

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  3. We are our own worst enemies and harshest critics. I've struggled with the same feelings during my many times on the weight rollercoaster. What helped most was thinking this way - whatever weight I was, if I was scared or intimidated at the thought of wearing a particular style, would I judge someone else of the same size wearing it? The hell I wouldn't! Thankfully, no one ever said anything, at least to me face. And even if they had, it would say a lot more about them than it would about me.

    Proud of you, and you look fabulous.

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  4. Well written. I wish we could all just be comfortable in our bodies. Unfortunately, I think most women can relate to this post (I know I can).

    Congrats for being featured on #runchat. Loved your last answer.

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