The “Too” Journey
I laid there curled in a ball, sobbing, until calm came through sleep. I woke up to shame, and cried consistently the whole next day too. Something had changed. Something was gone, that I would never get back. I had no understanding of why my body was grieving so deeply.
At age 15, I had just started my period.My body was at the very beginning of becoming, and I had already given it away. This would be the beginning of the “too” journey.
My chest is too small.
My hips are too wide.
My legs are too skinny.
My nose is too crooked.
I talk too much.
I laugh too loud.
I noticed it in every picture.
I felt it at every turn.
Am I enough?
Will I ever be enough?
At this point I was alone. Alone with my “too’s”. Just me……to love my “too’s”, except I didn’t. I believed that those “too’s” meant my worth was less. I believed that my worth lied in my body, and my face. I looked for reassurance, and that lied in relationships. It rooted firmly in attention and approval. Society teaches us that a pretty face will move mountains, a beautiful body will change our lives.
My “too” journey ended in childbirth. For some this is where the “too” journey begins.
At that moment, I wasn’t “too” anything, I was just enough.
My body nurtured and grew life.
My “too” small chest fed another human.
My “too” wide hips were cut open, sewn back together twice and I kept moving.
My “too” skinny legs carried babies and toddlers for several years
My “too” weak body balanced groceries, dogs kids and car seats every single day.
When I was young, I abused my body in whatever way I could. Alcohol, junk food, lack of exercise and an inner voice that rivaled any critic you’ve ever met. After kids, my coping skills were still young and raw, my habits still unrefined. Although I stopped the bad habits, I did not spend time creating new ones.
Until one day, I caught my 4 year old daughter watching me in the mirror.
She took it all in.
As I turned to the side and almost asked my husband “do my legs look too skinny in this”?
But her gaze created a pause.
In those eyes I saw the reflection of a young me, before the “too” journey, and I vowed my daughter wouldn’t take the first step onto that path.
In order to fill my daughters cup, I had to fill mine first. That’s just how it works.
I decided my body deserved to be on a journey of “enough”.
I decided my body deserved to be loved instead of judged.
I set about this journey with purpose and intent.
I created a mantra. I wrote in the steam on my bathroom mirror, every single day.
I stood in front of a full length mirror naked every week, and gave thanks to my body, part by part.
I hiked steep mountains, and climbed large boulders until my body felt strong.
I challenged it at every turn to see what it was capable of.
Turns out, this body is badass.
I made a choice, a choice that I would create a different path for my daughter. She will go on whatever journey she is supposed to, but it won’t be dictated by society or my inequities. Her body journey will be shrouded in a foundation of love and acceptance. Her memories will not be of her mother being “too” anything. Her memories will be of a mother who was just enough. Enough for herself, not anyone else. A mother who was able to see beauty in the mirror and feel beauty in her heart.
A mother who hopped off the “too” journey to find “enough” was much kinder.
My “enough” journey began with a pledge of mindfulness.
I share that with you now, humbly and compassionately.
Mindfulness of Body Pledge
I PLEDGE to appreciate my body by recognizing her strengths, abilities, capabilities, and her potential.
I PLEDGE to be a friend to my body by not criticizing, showing empathy when I falter, and by paying attention to her needs.
I PLEDGE to laugh as often and as loud as possible. Because it just feels good.
I PLEDGE to listen to my body by recognizing physical symptoms when experiencing overwhelming emotions.
I PLEDGE to meet my body where she is on that particular day, while pushing her to always work hard.
I PLEDGE to embrace my body’s beauty and remind her every day, not apologizing for confidence.
I PLEDGE to not make excuses, because she doesn’t need excuses.
I PLEDGE to wear whatever she feels good in, regardless of what others may think.
I PLEDGE to build in time to be still, so my body can rest, and recover every single day.
I PLEDGE to experience all that life has to offer in the skin I am in now.
I PLEDGE to not judge other people’s bodies, lest mine feel compared.
I PLEDGE to stand up to body shaming in personal conversations, and publicly.
I PLEDGE to treat my body like the badass she is, honoring, respecting and loving her every step of the way.
Get Grounded: www.groundedblog.com
Kerry Foreman MA Mindfulness Based Psychotherapist
Taking Sex Back: Marriage and The Mindful Woman
I am a woman in my forties, so the word SEX conjures up a variety of emotions. Somewhere between my twenties and forties, sex went from a semi-fun activity to a responsibility. I say “semi-fun” because sex was never actually fun for me. In my twenties, I didn’t have orgasms, I didn’t have a sex drive, and sex didn’t leave me feeling great about myself. It was mainly for the boy I was having sex with… and I thought it was giving me confidence. Sadly, later I would realize how false that was. Looking back, I was putting on a show. I couldn’t enjoy sex because I didn’t even know I was supposed to. In my mind, having sex was about turning my partner on. Was he having a good time? Did my body look good? What about my boobs, how do my boobs look? Seeing in his eyes how badly he wanted me was the only payoff I needed. Right?
Somewhere in my thirties after having children, sex turned into score-keeping. A quickie here and there, once a week to keep him happy. Have I fulfilled my quota? Score one for me. I can’t say that there was much emotion attached to it. My mind was on kids, to do lists, anxiety—and how long is this going to take? It’s hard to feel sexy with spit-up on your shoulder. It’s hard to feel sexy with a toddler pulling at your pant leg all day. For me, it was always just hard to feel sexy, period.
My forties have been all about self-discovery. I began practicing Mindfulness two years ago at 41. For me this means increased self-awareness, a higher level of empathy for myself and others, and better sex… waaaaaay better sex! I have yet to read, anywhere, about this particular benefit of Mindfulness. Apparently, discovering yourself and choosing to “live happy” translates to the bedroom.
As I got more in touch with my emotions, I unknowingly gave myself permission to enjoy sex for the first time in my life. This is an awakening worth writing about! The more I enjoyed sex, the more I realized that the discovery process can go on and on. I am still discovering, and I am still growing in this area. That’s exciting. My own sexual revolution—who would have thought?
Practicing Mindfulness encouraged me to set my intentions in the bedroom:
- I want to lean in when my partner touches me, not recoil.
- I want to be an invitation, NOT a denial.
- I want to build our sexuality together, not be pulled apart by head trash.
- I want to stop thinking of why I can’t have sex, and think of why I can.
- I want to feel great about my body, not cover the parts I’m unhappy with.
- I want to view sex as a physical and emotional need, not as a duty.
- I want to make my husband feel less like a predator, and more like a lover.
To make these intentions a reality required a lot of work. I had to figure out what my head trash even consisted of, to start with. It required overcoming years of society’s programming to judge other women for their level of sexual desire. What is a slut exactly and why aren’t men ever called that? Lastly, it required coming up with steps to warm myself to the idea of wanting sex…not giving in to sex, but wanting sex. I’m talking, cannot WAIT to have you inside me sex. Yes, I said it.
My tips for a more Mindful sex life:
- Spend time in front of a full length mirror naked. Yep, naked. Check out your body. The one body you were born with, and still have. I don’t care what it looks like. LOOK at it. EMBRACE it. LOVE it.
- Learn how to please yourself. I’m talking masturbation. If you don’t know how to give yourself an orgasm, how do you expect someone else to give you one? Becoming intimately familiar with your own body might even help you go from one orgasm during sex to multiple. Doesn’t that sound like fun?
- Spend time thinking about sex. This works whether you’re trying to get in the mood, or are already in the mood. Think about how good it feels to be touched. Imagine being touched. Think about your partner naked. Imagine your partner on top of you.
- During sex, feel every single movement. Go slow if you need to, feeling every touch, every nuance, every breath.
- Breathe. This is something we forget too often. Breathing in through your nose and out of your mouth slowly will heighten any feeling.
- Be self- aware. Keep track of what feels good and what doesn’t so you can communicate this later to your partner.
- Don’t be self-conscious! Don’t think about what your body looks like or your face looks like. There’s a big difference between self-awareness (which is necessary for great sex) and self-consciousness (which will ruin it). This isn’t the time for vanity. It’s the time for pleasure, and pleasure has no ego. When you’re focused on the sensations in your body, as well as pleasuring your partner, you’ll find there’s no room for self-consciousness.
One of the biggest ah-ha moments for me was the realization that sex is for us too, not just for men. Once I decided to be mindful about it, I found out it’s a stress reliever, a calorie burner, an intimacy builder with the right partner, and just plain feels amazing. Wherever you are right now with your sexuality, bringing mindfulness into it is virtually guaranteed to make it better.