Wednesday, January 11, 2012
It's been a funny thing over the past year that the word "gentleness" keeps popping up in my life. You know those clay hearts with words on them that you find at inspirational/self-help bookstores? I received three of them with the word "gentleness" over the past year from three different people. I gave two away - the last thing I need is to be "gentle"! and finally surrendered and kept the third one.
Gentle is not a word I would use to describe me. I tend to be an aggressive, go-getter who sets her sights on her goals and goes after them. I get noisy about political causes. I'm a late-in-life student who is outspoken in the classroom. I try not to be the "bull in the china shop" (as my mother would say). I don't want to be overbearing. But I'm not "gentle" because the world isn't gentle.
Somewhere there's a part of me that believes that my weight is a lack of willpower, a moral failing on my part to be a good person and eat and move like "everyone else" who is skinny. Of course most of me knows that it is more complicated than that: genes, a lifetime of being too big/uncoordinated to participate in sports, negative thoughts based on negative feedback from others, eating as comfort since I was a child, a lifetime of bad habits.
But still that thought about willpower persists, and so I think that I *have* to be hard on myself about losing weight. If I am nice to myself then I will let myself eat all those things I shouldn't eat. But this is toxic thinking and is literally weighing me down.
I *want* to be kind to myself, and gentle when I make a mistake. I don't want to be critical and mean and bossy with myself (or anyone else). Most of all, I want to be open-hearted and loving, not just to people that I like, but to everyone...even the people who judge me or make fun of me. I want to "embody compassion" the way that Buddha/Jesus/Gandhi did.
When I was a little kid there was a song the kids at school used to sing about me. Maybe some of you know it? The first line was: "tubby tubby two by four / can't get through the kitchen door". I think that song has been following me around my whole life, for 37 years. I can still hear it.
Really?? Those were just KIDS. Kids do mean things. I don't need to take all of that personally and internalize it and let it make me feel ashamed. I get to grow up (finally!) and be me, this size I am now, and embrace all the amazing good things in my life -- my loving mate, my incredible friends, my supportive sister, my darling nieces and nephews. I want to be here NOW not stuck in the past.
I want to choose kindness, gentleness for myself. I want to affirm that I am loved and loving, show myself the same compassion I strive to show others.
The most profound way I can think of to do this is to be gentle with myself about my journey toward health. This journey can't be about me getting to a size where I am "acceptable" to others. It has to be about me finding self-acceptance on my own, regardless of what I eat, how I move, or what I look like.
I want to be healthy so that I can have more energy, sleep better, travel more. That is a gift I give myself, out of kindness, in gentleness. It is going take time, probably a long time, but I can start now, today, this minute. WOW!