5: Ahimsa

The universe apparently wants me to learn something very specific at this point in my life. Usually, I can attribute coincidences to my own doing–I was looking for something actively or putting myself in the line of fire–but since our last training (Month 5 was last weekend), I’ve been learning the same lesson over and over and over again.

Ahimsa, which means nonviolence/compassion.

Those of you who know me well (or maybe just a little), know that I’ve always always always struggled with loving myself, and more specifically, loving the way I look. I went into YTT last Saturday and felt the weight of how disappointed I was in myself resting heavily on my shoulder. I’m not strong. I’m not thin. I’m not beautiful. I’m not pregnant. All of these things rolled around in my skull, screaming at me, telling me I wasn’t good enough. This was followed by a mini-breakdown (which I’m proud to say was fairly quiet and contained), which was followed by a long, wordy email to my teacher that night, which was followed with her kind, loving words and a few hugs the next day.

I left Sunday feeling better–not completely better like last month, but some better–and thought, I’m on the road to a miraculous and happy recovery! But by Monday, I was down again. I couldn’t stand the way my body felt. I couldn’t stand to look at myself in the mirror. I couldn’t stand for anyone else to look at me. I was bad, less than everyone else, because of how I looked. It’s hard to explain this to someone who doesn’t struggle with these kinds of insecurities and pains, but for those of you who do, I know you understand me when I say how badly these thoughts hurt. 

This went on for a few days. I tried to curb it by thinking positively, but it’s so hard to think positively when you feel so bad. It was easier to feel good at YTT, because I was surrounded by positive people, positive energy, strength-building (physically, emotionally, and spiritually), and the most amazing atmosphere. At home, with my day to day life pushing me again, it was a lot easier to slip back into that swift stream of hopelessness and worthlessness. Lucky for me, a couple of days later, my husband gave me a video to watch. (You can click here to watch it, if you want.) In it, a woman interviewed a number of women and asked them to describe themselves in one word. Disgusting. Fat. Imperfect. I heard these women and thought, That’s me. That’s how I would describe myself. Needless to say, I cried (I do that a lot), I hurt, and in the end, I felt better. Soon after, I saw this article on Facebook (click here): it was a list of ways we unknowingly body shame women and how to correct this so we don’t unknowingly damage someone. Having been damaged in some of these ways, and caused damage in some of these ways, it affected me deeply as well. I saw it, I shared it, and I felt rejuvenated. Maybe I can help others with their issues.

Then, tonight, I had a discussion about this issue of body-shaming/weight, and the other person didn’t say what I expected them to say. They didn’t say anything bad, but my interpretation of what they said set me back and I felt at least as bad as I did before any of this healing started. I felt worthless, fat, ugly, flawed beyond repair. This was not their fault, but it reminded me that I hadn’t gotten better, I hadn’t healed, I was just fooling myself. I was still broken.

Then, it hit me. The universe is presenting me with these issues. God is saying, Here. This is what’s in your heart. This pain. These feelings. These beliefs. And here are people who feel the same way. And here are reasons you don’t have to feel this way anymore.

When this occurred to me–that maybe I was feeling these things so strongly and seeing evidence of ways to heal so frequently, because I was supposed to be working these things out right now–I expected to magically feel better. I expected to feel lighter and to smile and to be able to breathe more easily. But I don’t. I still hurt. I still want to hide myself. My emotions haven’t changed. And this is where my lesson from YTT Month 5 comes in. Ahimsa means compassion or nonviolence for others and for yourself. 

This realization, though it came with no emotional wave to carry me, has settled in me. I am unhappy with the way that I look. I am unhappy that I’m unhappy with the way that I look. Yet, I can give myself grace, and can be compassionate, rather than being angry that I’m unhappy about being unhappy. I can use this knowledge to start giving myself some wiggle room. And in that wiggle room, where still I may be struggling and hurting (but no longer beating myself up as much for it) I can start the journey that will lead me toward not hating my body (even if it never changes), toward not hating the way I look, and toward loving the person that I am (after all, there’s only one of me, and only one of you, in the whole world, and that’s pretty special).

Unlike past blogs where I ended on this note of super-positivity–Everything is new and great and my epiphany has changed my whole life forever–I’d like to end with this:

It’s OK to feel bad. It’s OK to be sad and angry. It’s OK to not feel beautiful. But it’s also OK to feel good, happy, and to accept that everybody, everyBODY, is beautiful. It doesn’t have to happen to today, or tomorrow. It may take your entire life to simply begin to understand this (I feel like this may be my path). And either way, it’s OK. It’s OK to just be who you are, and while I think we should all be working toward happiness, it’s OK to experience the other parts of life, too. It’s OK to be flawed and wonderful at the same time.

Month 5 taught me to give myself a little wiggle room, a little grace, and a little compassion, so when the universe, when God, talks, I can start to try to listen.

These ladies help keep me grounded and honest about how I feel. I really love them.
My YTT class is full of people who share their love and energy whenever we’re in the same space. These three are close to my heart.