Monday, June 25, 2012

Frankly, My Dears, I Love You Now

I realized after writing these two posts that one of the reasons I love writing is the clarity it provides.  I learn while I'm writing; I see things I didn't see before.  Thoughts and realizations emerge that I didn't have before dipping into the word well.  For instance, after carrying on instinctively about my feet and skin, and what's wrong or problematic about them, I was struck by a new perspective.

I saw that in telling the stories of these parts of myself, I was revealing how I've defined myself--as a person of lack and extremity, an oddball.  I distinctly remember feeling that way in the awkwardness of adolescence (Who hasn't then?), but it apparently continues now, even though I've worked very had to become my own friend.  I still carry a remnant of self image based on what separates me from others, what sets me apart in uncomfortable ways, rather than on any commonalities--and there are many.  We're all human, after all.

Frankly, I don't care that I'm pale (mostly), and my feet are the only ones I've got.  Neither quality is hurting me in any way.  The earth has not tilted off its axis because my shoes flop around a little or my veins make a visibly branching pattern on my chest.  Why then am I allowing these traits, or my attitude toward them,  to affect my picture of myself?  These "problems" are outdated. They no longer fit the new, real me. Even the painful incidences I mentioned were A LONG TIME AGO.  Everybody's pretty much over it (Other than a few tactless souls), and so could I be.

I also noticed the words I chose to describe myself. I used terms like bony (I narrowly missed scrawny), which sounds like a word for a crone, when I could have referred to my bodily self with terms like slender, porcelain, lithe, or...See I can't even come up with more positive descriptors!  I've got to clean up my vocabulary act.  Language has incredible power, to reveal but also to affect.

For instance, I dropped the word "should" from common usage a few years ago. Instead I try to use "could," in order to remind myself that I have choices and to weigh myself down less with guilt.  I still catch myself from time to time (like two paragraphs ago, I confess), but it works.  Words have that kind of power.  Change "overwhelmed" to "challenged," and the attitude changes, too. It's time in the struggle to like and accept myself to check my word choices because they betray my attitude.

Speaking of that, I almost changed the word struggle to something lighter, but in this case, it's accurate, so I let it stay.  It has not been easy at all for me to be kind to myself, even though I'm (mostly) kind to others.  Crazy, but true.  And I'm not the only one who labors so.  Maybe some of my sharing is for some of those people.  That part I'm not in charge of.

I could have berated myself for writing in an unnecessary, possibly narcissistic, fashion about myself.  The critic demons certainly like to point out that no one probably cares about the topics anyway.  But I find that's it's been educational.  It's helping me cast off old ideas, which are some of the worst prisons, and redefine myself.  Writing brings this kind of self discovery.  That's a good enough reason to continue and a fun one, too, since I've found a couple of millstones I can cast away.

I've been finding it ironic for a while now that I'm able to look more kindly upon my physical self even as it begins to show signs of aging.  It seems backwards, but maybe it's not.  As the body moves inexorably farther from "perfect," or even the chance to be so, I have to let go of the pursuit of it or be miserable, wearying myself by fighting what cannot be vanquished.  The decline of the body makes spirit ascend because it can still be improved and is more durable.

From now on, I will try to cease complaining about my feet or feeling self conscious about my radiant (Now there's an adjective!) legs.  I will simply accept that they are.  Slender-footed and ivory-skinned and Roman-nosed will just be descriptors of me with no more negative weight than the fact that I was born in Tennessee.  They are simply qualities of the body, which will fade away, and the body isn't the essence of me anyway.  I know that now. Spirit is the fuel of true living.

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