Updated: Jun 4, 2019
We are born perfectly in tune with our bodies. Our survival depends of our ability to connect to every sensation of joy and discomfort. That perfect and harmonious connection is supported by the love of our caretakers, who also connect with our bodies in order to meet our needs. This magical relationship last until external influences impact how we perceive our bodies and its role.
My perfect relationship with my body lasted until about age 5. I was a curious, daring and energetic child. The world and the people inhabiting it fascinated me. I was healthy, highly verbal, extremely social and observant. I loved music, singing and dancing. I loved climbing on trees. I was very feminine, loved dresses and skirts. I was affectionate, love hugging and kissing everyone around me (if my body said it was ok, some people made my body feel uncomfortable).
After age 5 things began to change, I learned that I was fat, black with bad hair. I learned that these things were bad and made me ugly. I also learned that as a girl I was not supposed to be jumping, running and climbing trees. I learned that I needed to become smart and focus on doing things with my brain. I learn that good girls were supposed to be quiet, and speak only when spoken to.
Those new beliefs where enhanced by other messages and experiences during childhood, adolescence and early adulthood. The messages disconnecting me from my body came from family, community, church and media. Since my brain was the only thing “good” about me as an “ugly” fat girl, I became very academically disciplined and was “successful” living in my head. However, I wasn’t happy, something was missing (see my blog post – Getting out of my head…literally- from May 2019).
Please don’t get me wrong; I did do things with my body. I worked out regularly to change its shape, I dieted to decrease it size. The communication lines between my body and me were so broken that the night my brain aneurysm rupture happened I did not trust my body’s message. It took me 12 hours to seek help. Most people experiencing a rupture die in that amount of time! I had the worst headache of my life, my neck was completely paralyzed and I was violently throwing up and couldn’t get the hint that something life threatening was happening. Get a grip girl!
Surviving that experience showed me that something had to change, that I needed to repair my relationship with my body. To my credit prior to my rupture I was already doing work to reconnect with body, I was dancing more and receiving somatic therapy. But the rupture truly propelled me to get out of my head and into my body.
The process of reconciliation was challenging but incredibly rewarding. The first step was to deconstruct societal messages about my body and its value. Yes, I am a fat, black girl with kinky hair, but that does not make me ugly, that makes me, Me! Today, I celebrate and proudly showcase my curves, my skin and my hair. I turn heads in every room I enter. The more my self-love grows the more confident and attractive I become. Those who have met me know I am speaking the truth.
The second step was to learn to appreciate body diversity. If we take an honest look at everyone around us, it is easy to see how truly diverse we are. Humans come in all shapes, colors and sizes and that is beautiful. Accepting and appreciating others helps us accept and appreciate ourselves. Curating the media we consume is very helpful, I am very selective about the books and magazines I read and the social media I consume. I make sure to consume media that showcases all bodies, and the amazing people who inhabit them, in a positive lens.
The third step of reconciliation was to change my relationship to food and movement. Yes, I was exercising and dieting before, but that was done trying to change my body, it came from feeling not good enough. Now I move because my body likes it (I just became certified as a Zumba instructor), and eat what makes my body feel good. Weight does not matter!
What is your relationship with your body like?
Are you aware of when you disconnected from your body?
What has becoming disconnected from your body done to your quality of life?