There is a reality that I have tried to avoid for well over 40 years. It is not one that I asked for but one that simply is. It takes me back to the words my father said to me at the kitchen table when I was 17, “Mary, you will get big and fat if you continue to eat like that. There are big and fat women on my side of the family and you are going to be one of them.” That evening I spiraled into eating disorders that tormented me for the next 25 years. Those years have taken a toll on my psyche and my body that continue to unravel into today. I thought that when I stopped the behavior of anorexia and bulimia that would be the end of it and I would be OK, and in many ways health wise I am, but I’m just realizing that my emotional self has been in a battle with my body that was so subtle that I am just now recognizing it.
It is interesting for me to name that I have spent much of my life laboring over how my body looks and feels. Simply shopping for blue jeans, bathing suits, underwear, and PJ’s create angst in me when I can’t make up my mind if I am a small, medium or large. Just recently I bought an X-large shirt. It is too big…it needs altering…what was I thinking? I feel guilty for the purchase coupled with my inability to be in touch with how clothes look and feel on my body.
My guilt is a backward looking emotion that has kept me striving for present perfection.
Guilt also keeps me in the spin zone of my mind. Just when I think I have made peace with my body something from my past creeps in to ruin the present. Sigh…
In the past I’ve spent many years where I have received words of affirmation about who I am to others. Yet when I walked away from those words, they were replaced by feeling bad about my present. I’ve been considered a loyal friend but I’ve come to realize that loyalty is not always honoring. My loyalty to others compromised my integrity when I understood that I did not fully weigh in with my truth when I had the chance. Hence the feeling good about my loyalty turned to feeling bad because I did not give the truth of my heart. Yet I found myself returning to the people and places where I felt affirmed hoping that somehow I could hold onto the goodness for the present…it didn’t work. What I have realized is that my father’s place at the table was replaced by others who came and took a seat. It is like the subtle voice of evil crept in where I could not find rest and blessing for my body and my heart. Their voices became the voice of my father where judgment and condemnation felt like there was more required from me. Evil kept my father’s voice alive through the voice of others to haunt me in the present. Sigh…
As I thought about May’s theme, “The End”, I labored over the reality of what this theme means for me today. It has taken a few years for me to see that the people of my past no longer have a seat at my table. I’ve noticed a freedom in my heart has been released when I came face to face with the truth my heart had been speaking to me. It wasn’t without risk that my truth surfaced into words and action that caused me to end the relationships. The cringe in my gut no longer clenches as I have set aside my efforts to appease those voices seated at my table. They have been replaced with a new set of voices. They are ones that bring rest to my body along with words of blessing and goodness for my heart. These seats are filled with family, especially, grandchildren and new friends who speak with a voice of love and kindness.
God has a way of showing me what I need each and every day for the rest and blessing my heart so longs for. Just last week I was rummaging through my closet and came upon my all time favorite cocktail dress I wore 13 years ago to my niece’s wedding. I had forgotten about it. As I admired it on the hanger and lingered over the memories that dress provoked I decided, “What the heck. Try it on.” So I did just that! Low and behold it still fits. I modeled it for my husband and he said, “You look beautiful!” I’ve decided that I am going to wear it to a wedding this summer. It is smashing and so am I!
For now I’m feeling comfortable in my clothes and my body. The voices of the past don’t resonate as loud as before. I’m smiling as I say, “Yes, this is a good day to be alive in the body that is the home of my heart. Enjoy yourself, MJ, you deserve it!” The End.
Mary Jane Hamilton loves her life living on Lake Michigan with her husband of 47+ years. It is her family that brings her the greatest joy especially her 6 grandchildren. MJ readily admits that she adores her dachshunds and rests in the comfort they provide. She smiles at life and “rolls with the punches” that are thrown her way. MJ loves Jesus and beauty, MJ loves wind, waves and thunder, MJ loves fashion and good wine, MJ loves…
Oh, MJ! I LOVE this entry! It resonates with such truth and goodness deep in my hear. Thank you for your words, friend, and for sharing your beautiful life and heart. Rock that dress, girl!!
Thank you, Christine. Your words of kindness always touch my heart. Know, my friend, you have a place at my table. I love your voice…and yes, I will rock the dress💗MJ
Mary Jane, your honesty and openness about a subject that I struggle with really got to my heart. Your words invite me to consider more seriously the voices that I allow my heart and body to listen to, voices from the past and from today. Your newfound joy and affirmation of your smashing body in that dress give me delight as I ponder what new voices I want my self to hear and affirm about me. Thanks.
Thank you, Valerie! Your words of affirmation mean a lot to me. I’ll be thinking about you as you become more aware of the voices you listen to. I’m smiling as I wonder about the present voices that may need to find another table besides yours to speak. Knowing you…you will ferret them out💗MJ
I, too, have dealt with body image issues most of my life, even though I have weighed about the same since high school. Being fat, feeling fat, is an emotion for me, not a reality. And being able to be free of that feeling, those voices in my head is the foundation for all kinds of other freedoms. Thanks for sharing. Enjoy wearing the dress.
I love your honesty here about what you know about yourself…thank you for sharing it with me. My hope is that you will continue to find the freedoms you so long for and that you will be very choosy as to whose voice you listen to at your table💗MJ
Such a good day to be alive in your body. So many layers of redemption in those words. And hard truth to that you have spoken. The question of who takes a seat at the table is gentle but direct. Thank you Mary Jane.
Thank you for responding…and it’s still a good day in my body! My spoken truth still comes hard for me and I’m speaking it more often to honor my heart. Come join me at my table, I’d love to have you💗MJ
So much goodness in those words
My loyalty to others compromised my integrity when I understood that I did not fully weigh in with my truth when I had the chance. Hence the feeling good about my loyalty turned to feeling bad because I did not give the truth of my heart.
I am working on speaking truth, as I understand it, more often. This new habit is causing disruption in some of my relationships. For me finding the balance of speaking truth and the cost of that truth, or the cost of sharing my heart, is proving challenging. It has been a refining process, and God reminded that the refining process is not comfortable nor glamorous.
Much Love to You my friend.
Your words are so true in this refining process of speaking it. I am happy you are honoring your heart with the truth God is speaking to you. And you are so right, not everyone is going to like it…and you will live through their disruption and so will they. Stay courageous, dear one, you will find more goodness to come💗MJ
Loved this. Did I miss something, you got another dachshund(s)??!! Yay! ♥
Glad you liked this. Another dachshund? I wish but have the decision for now to not get another one. We have Regan for now and one dachie is enough💗MJ
I think my favorite line is “It is smashing and so am I!” Indeed. Beauty in words and face. Seeing you relish yourself brought a grin of appreciation to my face. No doubt hard won. I’m glad you shared the beauty of you today.
Thank you…and I’m glad I shared the beauty of today as well. Your words brought a smile to my face and encouragement to my heart. Yes, you called it…all of it is hard won 💗MJ
My emotional self feels in a constant battle with my body as well. It really is incredibly exhausting. I need to consider what faces should no longer have a seat at my table too. Celebrating that “smashing” dress with you too!
Hello Jenn, I so understand the constant battle you are referring to. And it has exhausted me as well. I’m glad you are in a place where you can consider those voices at your table. I believe you will breathe easier when you, too, welcome a new set of voices💜MJ
MJ–This post is gorgeous. So real and vivid and true. I love your “end”…trying on the beautiful dress, feeling it fit your body so beautifully, feeling pretty and comfortable. There are many old stories that regularly replay themselves through my mind like tired songs. I am learning to recognize them and eject the tape but it’s such a process. Thanks for sharing this beautiful truth with us today.
You are so welcome, Libby! You are encouraging to me as I continue to unravel my life on RTL. Those old tapes and voices can raise havoc far too long into our lives. I’m happy that you, too, are recognizing them for what they are worth…for today, not much! 💜MJ
Love this friend!
Thank you…carry on💜MJ
“It wasn’t without risk that my truth surfaced into words and action that caused me to end the relationships.”
Your courage to risk continues to inspire me and so many. Thank you Mary Jane. I love that family and good and kind friends are sitting around your table today…and that you tried on that dress:) Such goodness! Just beautiful!
Thank you, Ellen for the sweet kindness of your words. There is nothing about the end that has not come without. disappointment and struggle. I love what I’m hearing at my table…I even have a new set of ears to listen…come join me my table💜MJ