I wish I knew when my body began to be more enemy than friend. I have distinct memories of admiring the strength of my body while still a girl in elementary school. My legs! I could push things with them! I could walk and run and play for hours without an iota of complaint from them. God, it was so simple.
The change in how I felt about my physical self probably came when I experienced “the change” from girlhood to womanhood. As my body shifted into a woman’s shape, the power of my body also shifted. Power came now not from physical strength, but from a nubile sexuality. Strong for sure, but definitely not the same as the internal force previously known which had not been reliant upon the response of another.
For 30 years I struggled to recover a fundamental sense of respect for my physical self. There have been moments of tremendous gain – birthing a baby, beating back a cancer, running or riding in a race, but there have also been setbacks. Those pesky pounds that refuse to leave my abdomen, my post-breastfeeding boobs that seem deflated after nearly 4 combined years of producing milk, my flat butt…there was never a shortage of parts to criticize.
But I did something this weekend which left me with feeling a peaceful comfort with my body. I spent a few hours Labor Day weekend solo at a friend’s pool wearing nothing but my skin, soaking in the sun, diving into the water, au naturale. The sensation of the most basic elements; “fire,” water and air, somehow mentally transported me to a simple state of being. Naked. Bare. Completely comfortable in my own skin.