When Did You stop Liking Your Body?
When Did You START Rejecting Your Body?
When Did Eden End for YOU?
My daughter Maya is 8 years old and talkative from the back seat on the way to school today:
“Why did you quit gymnastics?” she inquires.
I share the myriad of reasons why I quit the sport that defined so much of my growing up. I talk about how the girls picked on each other and how I didn’t feel good enough. I am honest and continue, “And there were nice coaches and really mean, tough coaches too. I remember that they made me get back on the bars over and over again, even if my hands were bleeding. I didn’t like that!”
“Wow! I can’t believe it!” Maya squeals with delight, feeling like she is getting a really juicy scoop on her mother’s life.
She insists, “Tell me more about the coaches!”
I tell her about the coaches who knew how to be playful and kind, distant people that still populate my life- frozen in time by the eight-year-old that lives inside of me. I tell her about the mean coaches who made me do cartwheels on the beam for hours so that I would learn to, “stick the landing.” I find myself asking her to be gentle with herself.
How I wish for Maya to grow up knowing how to be gentle with herself.
Now we are quiet.
Now I am driving and flooded with a memory:
I’m eight years old and and standing on the vault. Coach Angie is spotting me. She looks up at me accusingly,
“When are you going to lose weight?”
I’m dumbfounded. Completely speechless.
I can not speak.
All I can do is look around the warehouse gym at the tiny girls in leotards. They pose and point and fly through the air like weightless birds. Suddenly I feel as weightless as an elephant.
I want to disappear but I am too big. If shame could be measured and quantified, in an instant a 400 pound burden attached itself to my energy field. It was a drone strike on my soul, burning and hallowing me out.
It was a spiritual attack on my birthright- the birthright of every human being- to appreciate the body as a marvelous system of energy in motion, a portion of Divine stardust.
It was the moment when I felt banished from Eden.
What did Eve first feel after she was banished from Eden? Remember? She felt naked and ashamed of her nakedness. God sees her rummaging around in the twigs- looking for something- anything- to use to cover her nakedness. The most powerful being sees her and she knows it. She knows that she has done something wrong. Very wrong. She wants to apologize, explain- protest! But she can not speak. Her throat is completely closed.
In the beginning… women were silenced. The shame silenced us. We learned that we had to be seen as acceptable before we could speak.
Loss of paradise first shows up as a woman’s rejection of her own body. It’s unbelievable really. The world has barely been created. (Great whales are like an hour old!) And here is a woman rejecting her own body. It’s remarkable. And it is so true.
*At what age did I first reject my body?
*What decisions did I make about myself at that time that I still carry in my energy field?
*How might I claim my birthright to live in grace?
We were not born to reject ourselves.
Or be silent.
It’s been 36 years, but the feeling I had that day is so easily conjured up that I would almost bet Coach Angie is still standing there by the vault waiting for my answer. In fact, I am almost sure that if I could just recall the location of the warehouse gym, a piece of myself might still be there too.
How do you get there? Just go north to ‘Not Enough’ and turn right on ‘Self-Loathing’– you’ll see the big sign there that reads:
“Here begins your life-long journey to reclaim your body and love yourself.”
You can’t miss it.
Tamara is an ordained rabbi, Ph.D. and psychotherapist, who practices in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Her work is all about helping people heal. She has officiated at hundreds of wedding and funerals and is a go-to-rabbi for interfaith couples. Rabbi Kolton leads with feminine spirituality and a touch of Zen. Currently, she is writing her first book: “Oranges for Eve”.