It was a beautiful snowfall. Absolutely beautiful. But I couldn’t seem to get myself away from this nagging anxiety. I was preoccupied with yet another new set of symptoms that have shown up for me over the last few weeks. Sometimes it can feel like my body is never quite certain it belongs here.
Worst of all, people can see it. Yup. That bothers me. I mean REALLY bothers me! My eyes are red and itchy and my eyes look like I haven’t slept in weeks. I would much rather hide it – to carry it under the radar. But that just isn’t happening. My body has other plans.
When I walk my dog I often talk to myself. Today I hear myself say, “You’re always striving for protection”. Whoa, I think you meant to say “you’re always striving for perfection”! That was an interesting slip that my brain made.
But then I realized that was closer to the truth.
My fear of showing up looking less than “perfect” was really about protection. We all have parts that develop as a way to protect us. Vigilant parts that keep track of whether we are good enough. These parts try in their own ways to protect what connections we have. They want us to be accepted. Oftentimes these parts are misguided in their efforts. For instance, the part of me that works so hard at seeing how “bad” my eyes look today, actually ends up putting my immune system on high alert. It overreacts causing things to get worse, not better. That’s often true about our protector parts. They can end up causing the very thing they are trying to ward off.
As often happens, I am provided with what I need to look more closely at something I’m dealing with. This morning was no different. This poem by Hollie Holden showed up in my news feed.
Today I asked my body what she needed,
Which is a big deal
Considering my journey of
Not Really Asking That Much.
I thought she might need more water.
Or movement. But as I stood in the shower
Reflecting on her stretch marks,
Her roundness where I would like flatness,
Her softness where I would like firmness,
All those conditioned wishes
That form a bundle of
She whispered very gently: Could you just love me like this?
The protector part in me wants to find an answer. Just like she talks about here. Do I need to do more of this? Less of that? Live somewhere different? Take different supplements? But that sentence “Could you just love me like this?” – what a radical notion! Could I? Could I allow myself to love myself in spite of a puffy face and red eyes and dark circles and all that I believe goes along with that?
Growing up, I was taught that physical illness was a sign of weakness. My mother actually believed it was thought to be a reflection of my less than perfect relationship to God. Ultimately, it landed as the belief that whatever was going on with me physically, whether it was menstrual cramps or the flu, I had done something to cause it. For an already hyper-vigilant nervous system, this was a recipe for some serious anxiety!
For today, I want to let myself be me. Whatever that looks like. What if that part of me that has been so vigilant for so long, could rest? Just for this moment?……. I’d like that. This post is an offering to myself.
I’m only beginning, yet again, on this journey towards acceptance of myself as I am. Loving myself will have to come in those moments of grace in the midst of it all. I’ve been here so many times. I arrive and do the best I can.
Can I let that be enough?