4 Months Postpartum, Body Talk: Healthy Eyes To See
*These photos were taken several years ago by the fabulous photographer Whitney Schey *
(I love her creativity & this was a few years after coming out of that place I was in so I thought these were fitting)
Im writing this midway through my 4th month, closer to 5 months postpartum actually, because I wasn't sure exactly what I wanted to write. I knew I wanted to use this time as a platform to speak truth and positivity into you ladies. I knew I wanted to lift you up, lift myself up, and lift women up in general when it comes to the hardships we face about our bodies. I knew I wanted to post more about my own journey, my story, not just postpartum but in life when it comes to how I have valued, viewed, and nourished my body in both healthy and unhealthy ways. I guess there was just so much I wanted to say that I didn't know where to start. Maybe each month I can choose a different topic instead of overwhelming you with all of my thoughts now on the subject.. we shall see. But one thing I do want to say is I hope you come here to this place, this space & feel lifted up today, not torn down. I pray that you feel empowered and that you are not alone, that we are all in this journey of life together, through the happy times and the more challenging times. I want my little blog to be a place where you can feel refreshed, connected, and understood and a little lighter when you leave here.
With that said, I've decided to start with sharing more of myself. Going a bit deeper into my own story. All of my childhood I was petite, I was told I was "little, tiny, petite, thin, and always chosen to do gymnastic demonstrations with our instructor (which I hated and it gave me performance anxiety), I could run fast because of being light, I had friends tell me they wished they could be smaller like me, my mom had to sew all of my pants because I couldn't fit into teenager clothes and refused to continue wearing kids clothes in jr high.. Being "small" became something people labeled me with so much at such a young age that it became part of my identity. I never knew this was happening, it just happened. As a therapist who works with young adults and teen girls, i see it happen with girl after girl after girl. Not just the girls that are "petite", but also to girls that are labeled "chubby, too tall, too boy-ish" you name it. You tell someone something enough times and it leaves a mark.. they start to allow it to penetrate them.. to become a part of how they see themselves and identify with themselves. "If people are telling me this over and over, well then it must be true, and therefore it must be important for me to accept". Which results in little kids believing they are fat, ugly, stupid, gay, a giant, etc etc etc. In my case, it made me believe that being thin was part of how people saw me, so if that ever changed then who would i be? would people still like me? would i become unloveable? If they made my appearance such a big deal, then it must be important for me to always be that..
As a child, our brains are not capable of cognitively understanding whats slowly occurring. My weight became something I valued, something I began to identify my worth by. It was more on the surface for me then, but as I got older it slowly went deeper and deeper into the core of who I was. I remember the first year I started to really become a woman and saw my body change was around Junior year of high school. Up until then I looked like a little boy, no boobs, no hips.. you get the picture. So this transformation was hard for me to accept. Thats when I started to struggle with loving my body, finding my worth in my appearance, not in who I really am as a human being. I would say my first couple years of college were the most difficult, not only had my body completely changed since childhood (in a woman) but I was now supposed to be a responsible adult and discover who I am and who I want to be ...for the rest of my life! Well, so I thought at the time. Oh little girl, if I could have just had an hour with my old self, the things I would say to help her through those hard times!! I would just hold her, tell her shes loved, not because of her appearance, but because of her soul, her heart, her personality, her God given characteristics and soley because she is HIS CHILD and HIS CREATION.
I later began a journey of healing, a journey of allowing the Lord to show me through His eyes just who He made me to be. God was able to heal my woundeness, the places in my heart that had been damaged from the world and its views it imposed on me as a young child. We all have brokeness, sometimes it takes some exploring, sometimes it takes time to figure out, sometimes we try to deny our hurts and pain and push it deep down (i did this for many years) but when I finally worked on accepting and embracing myself, my body included, I found freedom. I was able to love myself, although imperfect according the worlds standards, I knew I was perfectly loved unconditionally by my Heavently Father, and His opinion of me was all that I needed to focus on. Its so easy for us to try to be who the world tells us we "should" be, its much more difficult to be who God calls us to be & go against the current. Loving myself as I am has allowed me to experience joy and peace in ways I could have never experienced before because i was striving for something that wasn't attainable, to be perfect and the way other's told me I should be.. especially the media. I feel terrible for the girls growing up in this world today, for those that are in jr high and high school right now, I pray for you, its even harder today than it was when I was there. I commend you for your efforts to stay true to who you are. I am honored to sit with these girls and counsel them because at their age, I dont know that I would have been brave enough to really look within or smart enough to know my heart needed some desparate healing.
Lastly, because im reading Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist, as I previously posted here My People, The Gift of Friendship, & A Vow Renewal , I wanted to end with some of her beautiful words that again, touched my spirit in a kind and gentle way:
"..I'm learning to practive gratitude for a healthy body, even if it's rounder than i'd like it to be. I'm learning to take up all the space i need, literally and figuratively, even though we live in a world that wants women to be tiny and quiet. To feed one's body, to admit one's hunger, to loook one's appetite straight in the eye without fear or shame-this is controversail work in our culture.
Part of being a Christian means practicing grace in all sorts of big and small and daily ways, and my body gives me the opportunity to demonstrate grace, to make peace with imperfection every time I see myself in the mirror".
"demonstrate grace, to make peace with imperfection every time I see myself in the mirror".. We can use these honest words not just for our bodies but in all areas of ourselves that we tend to be critical of.
So my update about being 4 months postpartum is short and sweet because it doesnt really matter does it? I have now lost all of the weight that I gained during pregnancy to house my little guy. I feel strong, I feel different, I feel like I have an even greater sense of respect for my body after having Cash. I am grateful for pregnacny and how its changed me for the better. I don't look exactly the same and probably never will, but I don't mind in the least and that is the honest truth. I just want to be a healthy role model to my sons and daughters and love myself enough to experience the freedom He offers. I don't know that this would have been my view on this had I not gone through the difficult struggle with my body image in my teens. I can now appreciate and be grateful for my health and all that my body is capable of.. espceially creating a life.
I'd love to hear from you.. i get several emails from you guys about weight, body struggles, etc and always welcome conversation. I love each of you and if you ever need prayer or someone to talk to you know where to find me! I only hope and pray that we can be a community that lifts one another up, prays for each other, and is supportive and transparent.
I hope you enjoyed reading a little part of my story and what has brought me to be the woman of faith I am today. If you enjoyed reading please let me know by commenting, sharing, liking, or emailing me. I love to know your thoughts, and I appreciate knowing you guys are taking away something positive from my little world over here.. i want to hear about you & want this blog to be about your lives & your thoughts as well (;