Relationships; they tend to have a shelf life that determines the level of hurt you feel when it’s over. I’ve been the one dumped, the one doing the dumping and also have been one half of a relationship that just dwindles on its own and dies a slow and quiet death…ending with more of a whisper than a bang… a simple acknowledgment between the two of you that it’s course has been run.

I have been in a relationship that has been going through a transition for almost a year now and the insight I have gained is invaluable. A friend told me about 6 months ago that I have gone through the classic “long-term” break-up; essentially, breaking up and reconciling enough times that when it does finally, really finally, end… it feels ok. That it might still hurt but you know that it’s the right decision. I can’t say I agree with that entirely because the fact is that almost a year into “broken up”, “back together”, REALLY broken up”, “not together but kind of together”, “definitely NOT together” …it’s exhausting and draining… the emotional turmoil of wanting them and not wanting them at the same time. The hurt of knowing that you love them and have wanted, so much, for it to work…and knowing that it never can. Finally recognizing that truth and realizing that the ache inside to see that person and have them near is fading. Feeling that the sting inside when you see them with someone else isn’t as sharp…that’s when you know that it’s simply ending as it should. Being able to look back on the amazing times – the connection, the experiences and the moments that meant so much…Being able to look back on the hurt and the pain and the moments that broke my heart. Knowing it’s over finally….Finally. Friends now with memories of what was and that’s all. And feeling good and right about that. Finally.

I came across this blog a few days ago… and it got me thinking.

The gist of it is that we, in the mass generalization sense of “we”, are too much entrenched in self-hate and criticism of our bodies and need to learn to love ourselves more and accept our bodies. This is a huge over-simplification of the blog and I encourage you to read it for yourself, but you get the idea.

This hit home for me in a big way. You see, I have spent more years than I care to remember hating my body. Not just hating it, but loathing it and in turn, despising my mind for not being able to over-come the feelings that I have towards my physical self. I could go one ad nauseam about how I have struggled with anorexia, bulimia and general disordered eating in my efforts to shape my body into a shape that I find attractive and that makes me feel the way that I so crave feeling.

I know, logically that the body I see in the mirror is skewed and not accurate all the time. I also know that it doesn’t matter. I see what I see. I have spent my life wanting, so badly, to be able to take my clothes off with a lover and not feel like apologizing. I want to be able to enjoy my physicality without thinking about how disgusting I must look. I want to be able to just put clothes on without assessing how they will hide my flaws. I want to feel beautiful.

I have hit a point in my life now at 41 years old and after numerous attempts to overcome this dysfunctional relationship that I seriously have thought it will never change.

I read the above mentioned blog and thought to myself…I need to do something. I have spent my life unhappy with myself. I had a brief time 2 years ago when I felt like things had shifted for me. Then life got in the way and all hell broke loose so to speak. A family tragedy ensued and I am only now beginning to start seeing a way out of grief. In the place I am now, finding my footing again has become even more important to me being able to move forward. A huge part of this is conquering my personal issues with regards to self-image and, more importantly, self-love. Since reading the blog a few days ago I have noticed a change in how I see myself. I am gentler on myself…I am looking at myself and seeing the beauty of a body that has carried, birthed and nursed 4 children. A body that has been active and healthy and strong and met the demands of physical fitness that I put on it. Most significantly though, it is a body that houses “me” and I am more than the outer package that carries my Self. I am my dreams and my beliefs and my goals. I am my love, my spirit, my compassion and so much more… and all that makes me beautiful, not the size of my hips or my breasts or the length of my legs or the shape of my nose. To place my worth strictly on my physical self is such a narrow view of “me” as to be impossible to measure accurately.

I know that I won’t overcome this all in one week because of something that I read that struck home hard but it’s a start. As the blog asks for…here’s a full length pic of me… I decided go big or go home baby! Bikini for the first time in –I think 25 years! – in public. I think I need a bit more sun but aside from that, not bad 😉