My best friend and I were having a conversation in which she was expressing her not so happy feelings towards her stretch marks she’s gained since having 3 kids. Two of them and her latest, being a set of twins which not only left her with stretch marks, but also a little extra skin. I found myself chastising her, as I want her to see her body the way that I am now able to see mine. My body is beautiful, amazing and it is magical. This wasn’t always the the way I would describe my body. In fact, it wasn’t until very recently that I learned to fall in love with myself.
I never really bought into the articles I’ve read in magazines, speeches from public speakers or social media posts confessing their appreciation and love of their physical flaws. I guess I kind of felt that these were just examples of how people sometimes say what they feel other people need to hear or want to hear. I mean let’s be real. How the hell can you really love the extra weight you carry? And can someone PLEASE tell me how you can possibly even ACT like you love those stretch marks! Lies you tell! Those thoughts came from a woman who lacked a certain self-love that would be required in order for her to find appreciation in these “imperfections.” It would require giving the same unconditional love that I had given to others, to myself. With unconditional love, I would find patience, forgiveness, understanding, kindness, . Yes, the same things that I have given to others, I would have to give to myself.
It took me 35 years to get this. It took me 35 years to love myself just as I have loved others all of my life. Better late than never.
On Stretch marks:
Years ago, I grew an appreciation for the not so pleasant things that had happened in my life. I guess you can say my perception changed. Previously, I could only see the associated pain and damage caused by these events. As I grew, my point of view changed. I no longer took the position of victim. Instead, I crowned myself as a survivor. When I think of the term victim, the first thing that comes to mind is to be without power. Powerless. When I think of the term survivor, I see power. Powerful. I am not without power. I have the power to allow the things of my past to make me a better person. I have the power to allow the events of my past to help others become better people. I have the power to further heal myself and others through their own issues. I have the power to inspire and teach. Through my experiences, I have also gained wisdom, strength and discernment. All in which I am thankful for. Surely, if I had it my way, I would have gained these attributes in more pleasant methods, but we don’t get to control every detail of our lives. Once I understood and accepted the truth in that alone, I was able to move out of the victim seat and into the survivor’s throne. So… what does ANY of this have to do with stretch marks?
Just as I had to grow and eventually see the most hurtful events of my life in a different light, the same holds true for my love of self. I wasn’t born with a set of genes that included a higher metabolism allowing me to avoid weight gain issues. These genes didn’t include my body naturally snapping right back after childbirth. Again, all things that are out of my control. Once I accepted those things, I also accepted what it all meant for me. It means that I had to work harder to get the weight off. It means that I may never be a size 4 (which by the way, I have no interest in being) It means that I have two choices. I can either hate myself for all the things that I am not or I can love myself enough to accept what I myself as I am. The things that I happen to have control over, I can work on IF I SEE DESIRE. It means seeing the beauty and power I possess being a woman no matter my genes. I have birthed 3 beautiful babies that I carried to full term. In which time, my body transformed right before my eyes never to be the same. This, I have not only accepted, but I have also grown a great appreciation for my body. I brought life into this world. That is truly amazing. How can I not appreciate and love the vessel that has performed such miracles? The weight gain…the stretch marks they are all words to a very beautiful story. A story that I hope to one day add to yet again. The unconditional love that I have been able to give to others, I am finally able to give to myself. Sure, I’d love to have a flat stomach free of stretch marks. I’d love to go back to a size 8 or 10 with a little less jiggle in my step and maybe I will get there one day, but for now… for today, I am loving myself as I am. There is power in self love.
My previous inability to understand how someone could truly love themselves in an imperfect state (as if one truly exists) was a result of my inability to love myself in this way.
Embrace yourself. Love ALL OF YOURSELF as you are. Understand, both, the things that you can change and the things that you have no control over. Find appreciation in all the things that are beyond your authority as you work on changing the areas that you have the ability to do so. Even then, love yourself through the process.