This morning, I met my own eyes in the mirror and it felt like it'd been ages since I'd truly seen myself.
That is, I see my reflection every day, of course.
I check my outfit. I floss my teeth. I apply mascara. But I've become expert at seeing only the pieces. Thighs that are too wide for that skirt. Legs that could use some high heels. Under-eye circles that should be covered. I reduce myself to a list of flaws to be masked or fixed, never looking too long or allowing myself to dwell on the whole. Reflective surfaces are almost as bad as scales for producing shame and disgust within me.
No wonder it's so difficult to face myself.
But this morning I met my own eyes in the mirror and instead of quickly looking away in embarrassment, I lingered. I saw my own pain.
"You poor thing," I thought involuntarily.
It's been a difficult two years. It shows in my face; in my posture; in everything, I expect. Instead of dismissing my softly plumping body with revulsion, I found myself feeling an overwhelming sense of compassion.
There have been days when I can't get out of bed. Days when I live off of carbs. Days where I have to ignore all my own feelings and function for the kids. I've run miles and miles in search of endorphins and drugged myself with pounds upon pounds of chocolate. I've been faithful and discouraged, strong and fragile, vulnerable and steadfast. I do not begrudge myself the hours I've sat on a couch, wrapped in a blanket as I ate my stress. I deserved some ice cream amidst the demise of my life. But today, I thought, today I deserve more.
I should take you for a walk in the sun.
I should feed you something hearty and nourishing.
I should read you a book full of wit and humor.
You've been through a lot. I need to be gentle with you.
My self-directed thoughts were so uncharacteristically tender, I felt tears prick my eyes. I think that for quite some time now, my soul has longed to be seen. My body has longed to be respected. It felt right to honor them both.
I wrote "Be gentle and loving in deed and in thought" on my bathroom mirror. I think it's my mantra for the year as I strive to acknowledge my own worth and treat myself accordingly. If I can be gentle with myself, I think it only follows that I will be more gentle with others as well.
The world could use a little more gentle.