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I get prickly. Defensive. I imagine that I am found wanting by others and even though this is only a reflection of the fact that I find myself wanting, I rage against it. Even though I am unable to accept myself, I rail and cry when I think others do not accept me. I confront it, but in the way that one may attack an intruder - hit out now, ask questions later. My wall of injustice and anger and paranoia.
The things I love become weapons that I use against myself. I love to run, and then, one day, I find that my inner voice has been whispering, you're not fast enough, you don't go far enough, you don't push hard enough, and running is no longer what I love, but becomes another form of self flagellation. I try to make peace with my body, this vessel of life that has carried me along, borne my children, my able body that is a gift and a beautiful thing, and there's that voice again, that seductive serpent voice telling me you're too fat, you're too soft, you will never be beautiful, so what's the use in trying? It whispers you are too loud, too needy, too emotional. Things I would never whisper to my children as I tuck them into bed at night, become the unrelenting words I speak to myself instead.
I am climbing out of this hole. It's getting a bit dark in here, a bit hard to breathe. I've climbed out of holes before and I know I will have to again - these holes, they just keep coming, but every one is a road map and I remember the landmarks. I know the way out, it's a hard path speckled with reflection, space and time, with a bit of self love thrown in - repeated over and over, until it begins to feel natural.
I'm running again. I don't particularly care how far or for how long. I run until the mantra I am repeating over and over in my head, there's no room for others here. It's the earth, the wind and me stops being a phrase and starts just being. I'm also going to yoga. Not let's do yoga then do latte yoga, but honest, trackpants and kaftans and old Pink Floyd tshirts yoga, where we sit in a circle and feel welcome and even snore quietly during meditation, if that's our thing. I like it. I can't touch my toes, but if I try really hard, I can touch the cobwebby parts of my soul, and that feels nice.
I box, too, and do karate, and enjoy the power in these sports, the sweat and the sore muscles and the moment where my fist hits something, hard. But it's not all about exercise, and it's definitely not about not being enough. I'm learning to do what I enjoy, and enjoy what I do. Just because. I'm learning that if I eat some chocolate today, I don't have to hate myself tomorrow. If I can't face cleaning the bathroom today, it will still be there tomorrow. And the day after. And that's quite okay.
I say nice things to myself, like I am tucking myself into bed. Sometimes, it's hard, it's clumsy and I don't entirely believe myself. But I can feel my prickly edges softening. I can feel myself unfurling, my fists unclenching, my scowl fading. I'm learning to breathe, six counts in six counts out, slowly, mindfully, calmly. I start to feel loved, by myself first and foremost, and it's good.