Thursday, July 11, 2013

I Had an Epiphany

This week I did this on my own for the first time ever in my entire life (Um, might not be SFW due to excited language):

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.


  1. I love this and I love you! This hit home for me. Even though I've only been in this post-pregnancy game for 7 weeks, it breaks my heart that I have zero pictures of myself with my son because I'm afraid I'll ruin the picture. I'm going to rewatch your fantastic RO-BHS a few more times to remind myself you fucking AMAZING post-pregnancy bodies can be.

  2. Spanny Tampson is a goddess and should always feel like one. If anyone is looking at pictures of us and thinking that we could stand to lose a few pounds, then they are dicks and can feel free to eff off.

  3. Such great stuff here, Jen. :) I'm so proud of you for the flippy flops, but even more for all your unabashed truth-telling. I know how scary it can be to bare yourself like this, and I really appreciate it! What a great moment.

    If you haven't, I highly recommend reading anything by Brene Brown (my fav is The Gifts of Imperfection). I have a great video of one of her talks, too. Happy to share any of the above. This kind of thing that you've experienced here, is right at the heart of her complicated-yet-obvious message.

    1. Thanks, Cincy Sarah. ;) I'd love to read anything you have!

  4. Yay!! I just cheered for you so much!! It's so hard to be a mom and a wife and a woman and not feel overwhelmed pretty much all of the time. Then on top of that we feel like we have to beat ourselves up about our bodies when they are just fine! You are awesome and you are awesome at being awesome which is what really matters! :)