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…