The image is one I have created for my instagram account which is about finding our 'Red Thread.' There were many responses to my quote, it echoed and resonated in a way that was powerful with a lot of people and yet it came from a point of despair; from being lost in the wild sea of my life.
It started when I was filming for the Red Thread series on my YouTube Channel and as I was doing so I suddenly had a powerful realisation. Let me share it with you.
So, I was recording a piece about the importance of having boundaries and I shared the fact that I have, and often still do, put other people's needs and importance above my own. I will try and fit my routines around their routines, rather than just owning my space and owning my worth. What is disturbing is that I then resent the fact that these people do what they want, when they want and how they want and I go around being the Muttering Mistress of Resentment whilst they have no idea why I seem to be annoyed with them. (Conflict avoidance is another issue here!)
I realise that primarily I am jealous of the fact that they can live their life without constantly second-guessing if they are affecting others and that this comes down to the fact that they have good boundaries and value themselves. Also, they do not enter into a continual meta narration about how others might feel if they do something. This made me realise I am also guilty of being the Mistress of Meta-Narration which then made me realise I have a problem with boundaries and worth because the two are absolutely linked and also I think I know how other people will react better than they do themselves! FFS - what kind of control freak am I!? Sigh and exhale .......
The area that the boundaries and worth show up the most is in my personal health and fitness. I know that I want to be strong and healthy as I get older. I want to be a 60/70/80 year old who has good balance, is flexible and who can lead an independent life. I also know I feel better when I exercise and workout. I know that positive brain chemicals are released and it improves my mental health too. I KNOW ALL OF THIS!! So why is it that my health is always the least important thing in my priorities?? Exercising is always the thing I will put everything else in front of - even to the point of playing search with the dog. Suddenly I had that moment of realisation -
The reason I give so little priority to my physical body and its health is because I have so little worth for it - I have been made to feel that my body; it's shape and how it looks, is worthless and ugly.
That was a powerful realisation. That even at the age of 57, the societal story about which bodies should be given worth and the personal stories from my mother about the worth of a woman being linked to their slimness and 'petiteness;' are still subliminally sabotaging my life. I found myself adrift on that wild sea of life.
The other thing it made me realise was how 'separate' I was from my body. I know my body is a part of me, just as my writing, art, ideas, imagination are a part of me, yet I value those and give them worth in a way I never do with my body. I often talk about 'working on my body,' yet essentially I should be saying that I am 'working on me' as I cannot separate myself from it - so why do I? I have thought about this a lot ...... I would like to invite you to think about it too. Was there a time in your life when you did not even realise you had a body? A time when you were just you? You were not aware of knees or hips or ass or breast, just you? I can remember that time and I know it was a time before I was 8 years old. When I hit 8 I can remember being aware that as a girl I was supposed to sit in a way that did not show my knickers. (Skirts were compulsory school uniform for girls at the schools I went to.) I became aware of the fact that my body was being looked at and thus it was being judged and compared. My body was no longer a thing that could help me experience the thrill of hanging upside down on the railings, or spinning on them crazily, it was a thing that needed to be 'policed' and kept under surveillance.
When my teenage years hit so did the diets. My mom was a great dieter and she passed that skill on with ease. It was no longer just about policing my body now I was battling with it so that it would conform to the idea of beauty and be thin. I failed. I did not want to be in the shame of my body. I stayed up in my head. I read, studied and tried to avoid what was below my neck. Eventually I started dating (at the age of 19,) yet still the discomfort of my body followed me around, of course it did - It was my body! I went on to develop bulimia which further increased my shame and disgust. It was only when I went to live in Northern Ghana that I realised how cultural the ideas of beauty were. In Ghana people would tell me, as a compliment, "Hey, you are looking fat today!" It was a total head f**k - that fat could be beautiful. However, those marrow-memory stories are hard to get rid of aren't they? Hence, here I am writing this now - a post menopausal woman in her late fifties suddenly realising I needs to value my body and give it worth as, my body is me and I am worth valuing.
And it has started ..... now that I have suddenly identified that disconnect I am working on my wholeness. I know that by valuing my time to exercise I am valuing me and the me who I wish to become in the future. Finally, I want to say for the record that I am not going to be posting any of those *I am a goddess* body positive images. I think they give us such pressure to be 'positive' all the time. It is fine to just be you. I am Katrice and that it is enough, I am enough.