Twenty-one years after I fell in love with gymnastics, I did a round-off back handspring on my own. Pretty cool, huh?
The reason I'm posting this is not because I want to show off, although frankly I'm pretty damned proud of myself and everyone should probably applaud me and send flowers or something. Obviously.
No, the reason I'm talking about this is because of what happened after I left the gym. I got in my car and started to cry. Not subtly, either. I'm talking wet, snotty, dripping, body-wracking sobs. Shit was LOUD. And so, so cathartic.
I realized, quite suddenly and without any warning, that I am absolutely emotionally exhausted. I'm pushing my thirty-two year old body to do things that feel unnatural and scary and I LOVE it. But rather than living and reveling in that, I punish, berate, and degrade myself for not being perfect enough. I avoid being in photos because someone might be able to tell from my little belly roll that I've gone through two wonderful, beautiful pregnancies. I've balked at posting many videos and pictures with myself in them because I worry that I look too fat or my skin is too broken out (post-natal hormones, kids!) or my hair looks bad or whatever. And WHY!? Who do I owe this perfection to? Whose eyes, exactly, am I protecting?
No more. I said that out loud to myself a good ten times. No. More.
On my way home from the gym, I cried because I was overwhelmed by the sense of power I had. I cried all over my steering wheel because no matter how much I thought about it, I could not hate my body. I couldn't muster the energy to care that I have a real woman's body because I had just spent all my energy being fucking awesome. It was the weirdest sense of peace and chaos I have felt since the births of my children. To utilize a cliché, something just clicked. Something in my mind shifted, and I grew.
And I haven't cared about impressing anyone since. I haven't felt the need to let disclaimers about my body or my ability or my anything hang in the air, apologizing for me before anyone has the chance to disapprove. I don't owe anyone a flat stomach or thighs that don't touch or skin that "glows" or perfect teeth or a flawless pedicure.
I just don't care. My body and my mind are strong, and healthy, and powerful. They are perfect for me.
I feel really raw and uncomfortable here, but my poetry teacher in college always said to, "Write the poem that scares you." Talking about my personal insecurities is the poem that terrifies me. Taking chances on success is the poem that keeps me awake at night. So I'm writing it, for all three of you to read. I want my entire life to be the composition of the poem that scares me.