I went to my very first yoga class yesterday. I can’t say that I was ready for the emotional experience that happened on that mat. In one class, one practice, one hour….so much happened that I’m still struggling to understand and explain. We were guided by the instructor to quiet our minds, to shut out the sounds and noise, to breathe deeply and look inward. Concentrate on our breathing and notice any thoughts that keep coming to our minds, dismiss them and concentrate on our breathing. I never thought I was a bully until that moment, realizing how much I was judging my new growing body. It’s the first time in months that I’ve worn “active wear” in public… and of course nothing feels or fits right at 7 months pregnant. But it’s also the first time in months that I have quieted my mind long enough to see that I was really hardcore hating on my body. I found myself judging my body in comparison to the other ladies in the room, I was flooded with fear that they were judging me too (talk about selfish and self-centered). I was judging my body based on what I “thought” it should look, feel, and act like, the things I thought it should be able to do…I was judging my body because the smallest movements and actions make me feel out of breath and winded. Hell, getting up and down off the mat was a challenge! Almost 5 years into recovery, I realize that my eating disorder is still alive and well inside of me whether I am acting on it or not.
(sidenote: Pre-pregnancy I was training for a marathon, working out daily if not several times a day, and working on developing a killer bod (and ego to go with it)….This pregnancy has brought with it several periods of modified bed-rest, activity restrictions, and I’m not allowed to work out at all, or do any strenuous lifting.)
Now imagine all of that running through my mind in the span of a couple minutes. Talk about exhausting!
Now don’t get me wrong….I believe that the miracle of growing a baby inside of my body is just that….a miracle. I am incredibly grateful that after decades of abusing my body, I have been blessed with the opportunity to carry a child of my own. I do not for a second take for granted the beautiful process that is happening within me everyday. So, don’t get it twisted.
As a woman living in long-term recovery, I feel obligated to keep it real. It is hard. It is harder than I ever imagined it would be. Eating disorders are all about control, and pregnancy is complete absence of that control. My body seems to change everyday, sometimes I feel like if I sit still enough, I can actually see it changing. Of course there is the belly bump, but there is so many other changes that I wasn’t prepared for. My boobs, the expansion of my hips, my butt has lost the cute little perk it had in my running days, my knees and legs swelling, swollen hands and feet, puffy face and breakouts! For years, my security, my worth, my entire world centered around my body and how it looked (or how I thought it looked). My self-worth was completely performance based and had nothing to do with who I was as a person.
So, I decided it was time to acknowledge this new mom-bod. To honor it and to be reminded of the growing miracle inside of me. I decided it was time to really dig into the fear and find out what I was really afraid of. I spent some time in silent meditation today, and really have no more answers than I did yesterday…but I’m digging. I’d love to say I figured it all out, but I don’t think it works that way. Just like any addict, I believe that I don’t just choose recovery and become cured one time….I have to continue to choose recovery every day. So, I’ve started by telling on myself…by becoming vulnerable and honest, secondly I’m seeking…seeking the truth underneath all the bullshit that I cover it up with.
Now, something else I feel I should mention….I am surrounded by amazing people, including my husband and family who remind me on a daily basis that I’m beautiful, that I’m “glowing”, that I’m right where I’m supposed to be. I do not lack for affirmations, for support, or for love. Just needed to add that
I think my biggest fear is the expectation of “bouncing back” after this pregnancy. I have so many expectations of myself and how that process “should” go. I set really high standards, and I’m terrified that it just won’t happen the way I want it to, or will take longer than I think it should. I actually calculate in my mind how much weight I’ve gained and approximate how long it will take me to lose it. I get lost in the thought that all this bed-rest has stripped me of all the gains, stamina, and work that I did pre-pregnancy….talk about control issues! My mind has focused so much on how my body will respond after childbirth, that sometimes I forget that I will have a beautiful baby girl and that I will be her mom!!!….I forget that that’s what this is all about! It’s not all about me!
I think that the reality of raising a daughter has brought it to the forefront of my mind that I want to find a level of peace and serenity with my body. I know that she will learn how to judge and treat her body by the example that I set for her. She will watch the way that I judge myself and copy that behavior. She will follow my footsteps in exercise and nutrition by what I teach her. I want her to be confident, I want her to be healthy and strong, I never want her to feel what I felt when I was trapped inside an eating disorder. I want to teach her confidence and strength by example. I want to teach her how to be healthy by being healthy. I’m grateful that I have to opportunity to teach her that her worth is on the inside and that her character will define her. I’m grateful that I’m learning more about balance every day so that I can teach her that balance. I’m also terrified that I might mess up….but I know I will do the very best to teach her self-love and self-respect.
I will continue to trudge, to seek and to be honest. I’m actually really excited as much as I am terrified about this journey and what I will learn along the way. I can’t wait to meet this little miracle and be her mom. I know it won’t be easy, it isn’t supposed to be…but I know it will all be worth it.