I’ve always wanted to be special. To be seen.
I remember so clearly, feeling deep envy as I would watch the dancers of Cirque du Soleil dance their hearts out and wow the crowds. I remember watching the beautiful goddess of Cavalia dance with her ivory white Stallions on stage in movement that can only be depicted by the word grace. I’ve spent my life envying these women, wanting so badly to be them- so I could feel what they feel.
Wanted. Beautiful. Loved.
School was an on going hamster wheel of this affection. It drove me in my pursuit of everything: sports, academics, friendships, boys and a private bad-ass rebellion. I’ve always wanted to have it- the special quality that made me beautiful. That made me worthy. This unachievable quality, which ended up leaving me constantly unsatisfied, seriously under-weight and emotionally compromised. If I didn’t feel like I had what it took to be special in a space, I would steer clear of it. Or I would push my body to a state of complete exhaustion- in hopes that maybe one day I would hear those magic words of praise and love.
I joined cross-country as a way to run my ass off, kick butt and lose as much weight as possible. Cross-country was all about control for me. Looking back, I realise that my goals were again, unattainable.
I was captain = not good enough.
I lost weight = not good enough.
I ran many miles a day = not good enough.
Instead of recognising the beauty and strength in what I was doing and how amazing my body was for taking me through it- I chose to push more, train harder and hate deeper. My body was a place of undeniable destruction, blame and hatred. Never once was I comfortable with being naked in front of another, unless he was a promiscuous and drunken hook-up in South East Asia- followed by months of depression and stifling anxiety. My body was a temple of disgust and shame and the idea of baring it’s vulnerable shell to another, who I wanted to want me, was out of this world unacceptable. In fact, I still experience anxiety when I strip my clothes in front of my long-term partner. There is something about removing our clothes and showing our earth suit to another- that represents the ultimate step of vulnerability.
Without clothes, you have nothing to hide. You are seen.
My body was a war ground and all I wanted was to hear the words “I love you” or “you are beautiful”. As I write this, I hear different words pop into my mind, wondering if they’ll think I’m special. The same question repeats itself, “are they inspired by me and do they think I’m a talented writer?” I notice those thoughts. I can feel them.
And in that moment, years back, running my body to the ground, starving myself and cutting to feel this release, I knew that there was something else. I could feel that there was something deeper. I knew that beneath the pain and the stories- there was beauty, gifts, love and grace. I just couldn’t truly see it. I couldn’t grasp it. I just felt it. Beneath all of the pain and self-destruction- there was a more pure and inner battle for what I knew beyond it all. And that, deep inner knowing, is what has brought me through life to this moment.
Trust. Every time. I felt that deep envy- I noticed that it came from a place of knowing truly that I am good enough. But my body was something else. Why didn’t I have her legs to run faster and longer- and her chest to attract more attention. Why didn’t I have the boy-ish figure that could fit jean shorts easier, and rock skimpier bikinis more naturally? Why was I given my womanly hips? All along, I spent my time fighting these gifts, this body- that gave me so much beauty and so much life. All along, I created stories about my body and how and why it wasn’t good enough, why I wasn’t special and why I couldn’t stand out. I knew I was more than my body, but I spent so much time hating it that I couldn’t see beyond it’s fleshy boundaries.
So here I am. In Costa Rica surrounded by women who have come to heal and nourish their souls and I can’t stop this “I’m not special” story from shining through. I see her stories, I feel her pain. Precious child, suffocating on a deep desire to be seen.
Day by day I wonder: do they see me? Do they think I’m special? Do they feel inspired by me? Do they want to work with me? Am I good enough? As I notice this story- these thoughts- lingering beneath my experiences- I notice a similar pattern of abuse towards my body. Pushing it past it’s pain point, ignoring it’s messages and signs and placing my focus on validation. I am here. I am evolved. And yet- there it is. That same story, wondering if they like me the most. If they see me as a leader.
And then as I stand there, calves throbbing from old self-destructive tendencies- I hear the stories, I see the thoughts and I realize the truth and feel the essence.
Which is that I am here, I am seen and we are all one.
I see myself in her and she sees herself in me. We are all connected. Her leg is my leg. My arm is her arm. Our hearts are one. And as the layers shed, and the vulnerability is exposed, I remember- that these stories will always be here- they are the driving force to which makes me human. They are my mind.
As they remove their tops to bare their raw, feminine chests I feel that deep envy. I look down at my chest in faint vulnerability and I realise that the truth is, her chest is my chest and my chest is her chest. And we are all connected. In that moment, I embrace my body for the first time. I feel my arms, my legs, my chest and my belly- for the first time- and know that I am beautiful. I smooth my fingers across my skin, soaking in the essential oil; Abhyanga. I feel myself, beneath my skin and beyond my earth suit. I am special and we are one. And I tell myself a secret: