FEAR OF TIPPING BACK
By: Lauren Anderson
On this journey to Body Love and Acceptance there are bound to be some detours along the way.
I mean that’s to be expected right?
I just wish these so-called detours were more fun. Like an actual road trip!
You know, cause some detours are marvelous, and absolutely MAKE the day. Like pulling over and collecting wild blueberries on the side of the road. Or stopping ironically to check out the Giant Ball of Twine, only to end up chatting with fascinating people from Australia, who extend a heartfelt invitation to visit them anytime.
Then you have the other kind of detour.
You know, the ones that seem like a good idea– but turn out– er, not so good. Like pulling off a highway and checking out that Museum of Defunct Medical Equipment that just happens to be in an old, dark barn in the middle of a cornfield.
Yeah… not recommended.
But these detours make for good stories no? And inevitably a good lesson or two.
So cut to last week.
I wasn’t exactly feeling myself. It was one of those weird weeks where no amount of Lizzo’s music or compliments from friends could fill the bucket.
I was having trouble picking out outfits. My hair had a mind of it’s own. And even worse, I was having trouble looking in the mirror. Seriously, every time I looked out of necessity or curiosity, I always walked away non-plussed.
I haven’t felt this “meh” about myself in a loooooooong time.
In fact, I almost forgot what it was like. And then boom. Here we are. Back at it.
This all sounds super trivial, I know. And in the scheme of things, it is! But sometimes, it’s this small stuff that’s left unchecked that brings down the empire. Ya feel me? A flu virus is technically small, but it can bring a person to their knees. And if you always left a penny and never took one, you ‘d be broke.
You get where I’m going here…
So basically, Achilles should’ve covered up his tender exposed heels. And I know better than to let my toxic thoughts run rampant in my mind, without checking myself.
The good news is, I finally have tools to combat this kind of wayward destruction of self. I have come to believe that thoughts can become truths, so I always start there. I start with my mindset. It hasn’t made me magically positive or a Polyanna. The negative thoughts still come, and I let them pass through. I know better than to try and block them.
But as soon as they pass, I try to follow them with better messaging.
If this sounds forced or cheesy– let me be the first to recognize, it kind of is. But I prefer to think of this as being intentional.
For every time I have a flash of a thought like,“I hate my hands.” I try and take a minute to recognize that I just said something destructive. Then I try and replace it with something stronger. And something I believe to be true.
My only rule is, it has to be authentic. Otherwise what’s the friggin point right?
Saying “I hate my hands” or something like that may seem innocuous, or just something we say without thinking. But I think these are the messages that GET US in the end. This is the type of micro aggression that we inflict on ourselves. And it doesn’t help anything. It only hurts.
So then I go, “My hands are strong. My hands let me write and draw and clap and touch. My hands can hold a door open, a bar bell up, and a person close. And don’t even get me started about the nail polish and rings.”
Then suddenly, I like my hands again. And the thought that remains is a positive one.
If it sounds like a magical solution, I hear you. I’m making this kind of self talk sound like a TV huckster whose all, “Wanna make a million dollars in a day?!?!?!? Buy my book! IT’S JUST THAT SIMPLE” And you’re watching, and asking yourself “If you’re so rich, why are you on this infomercial at 4 in the morning?”
I used to be a person that hated living in gray areas. But the wiser I get, I’m coming to realize that most things are shades of gray. That in life, I can hate my hands one minute, and be grateful for them the next. And all of it can be truthful.
So on Saturday, I was sitting in my dressing room before the show, getting ready. As I put on my make-up, I was chatting with two of my co-workers and we were absently going through Facebook. I came across some video of myself. And then some photos.
I was… to put it lightly… Not Happy.
But surprisingly, I didn’t double down on my usual suspects. You know the typical stuff that I pick apart when I look at un-authorized media of myself. This time I noticed something new.
I say to my co-workers, “Hey, do I look like I’m constantly tipping backwards? You know, like every picture taken of me, the rest of you are in straight shot, but somehow I am the only one taken at an up-angle with a fish bowl lens?”
My co-workers look at me dumbfounded.
I start to mimic the pose. “You know, like this?” They stare, confused.
I solider on. “You know! Do I look like I’m always making a backward C? Like I’m a giant double-jointed thumb? Bending away from people like I’m incredulously smelling some fart that only wafts under my nose?”
My co-workers are kind of laughing at this point, but mostly they’re just confounded at this absurd line of questioning.
“You know. It looks like I’m tipping backwards! Like I’m about to jump out of the way in a water balloon fight? Or that I’m attempting an epic Drag Queen Death Drop, but I never finish it?”
I quiet down, and they both answer an emphatic “NO.”
Like, not only do they NOT SEE what I’m talking about, they don’t even understand how/why/what I’m talking about. We kind of laugh at all this, because WTF is happening?
They reassure me that I don’t look like I’m constantly tipping backwards. They give me compliments even. “You have great posture, your shoulders are always back!” I don’t deserve this kindness, but I am grateful they’re humoring me.
And as I try my damn-dest to accept their comfort, I finally realize what’s going on.
I take a beat. “Thanks guys. Sorry. I think I was just looking for a new thing to hate myself about.”
And we all laughed.
Cause the truth is, is I think that stuff happens to all of us. Depending on how strong we feel, we may be susceptible to any number of ridiculous observations that have no business trying to pass as reality.
Because I was having a weird week, I easily tipped backwards into negative body talk. Even going so far as to invent new, silly things to obsess about.
I’m happy to say, that this week is a new week, and I’m feeling back to my new normal. I am grateful that I can see what was going on, and that detour was just a detour. And I don’t have to stay and hang out with the toothless, shirtless dude at the Defunct Medical Equipment Museum, if I don’t want to.
It’s time to get off that detour and back on the road to Body Love.
And maybe as I travel I will take a minute to remind myself of one of my favorite parables. Which I will bastardize for you here now. The Story of The Good Wolf.
It goes something like this:
A Grandfather was talking to his grandkid. He says to the child. “Inside of each of us are two wolves. One wolf is everything good. Hope, love, laughter, kindness, compassion etc. The other wolf is hurt, hate, jealousy, greed, pain. These wolves are constantly in battle with each other.”
The child listens, and asks Grandfather, “Which wolf will win the battle?”
And the Grandfather answers, “The one that you feed.”