November 13, 2015

As I have released the weight and body issues that have been such a present and uncomfortable companion most of my life, it has been fascinating to observe my continual readjustment, recalibration to myself and my world.  


There have been so many milestones along this road those who have never been overweight may not understand.  Being able to cross my legs at the knees again.  Leaving the Plus Size section behind.  Being able to sit in the middle seat on the bus without feeling self-conscious or having to apologize to my seatmates for the tight fit, simply sitting down, smiling and saying hello.  Passing people on narrower sidewalks without a thought rather than seeing people stop, step aside, and wait for me to pass as there wasn’t room for us both.  No longer dreading airplane seats.  Seeing myself in a window and being okay with or even liking what I see instead of cringing in disbelief that I'm so big.  Sitting cross-legged on the floor.  No longer feeling invisible most of the time, which simultaneously made me want to scream "I'm here! Acknowledge my existence!" while paradoxically finding comfort in not being seen, because, well, look how big I am, please don't see me...


A new milestone:  Small.  I purchased shirts that are size Small.  I cannot recall ever buying a size Small.  Ever.  I know brands vary greatly, and this brand’s Small may be another’s Medium, or some other’s XL, for that matter.  But, today it was Small.  As with each size I’ve gone down, I’m always a bit baffled at first.  I look around, wondering if this is right, or am I missing something.  


And then as it fully comes into consciousness, I usually get a bit choked up, full of emotion as I never really know when most milestones are going to show up.  Proud, happy, humble, amazed, excited, motivated, and many others.  


“Small”, though.  Not a word that ever really applied to me, at least physically.  I’m a bit taller than the average American woman (5’6”).  I have never had small feet (10s by 9th grade).  I’m not small-boned.  I will acknowledge I certainly have played small in my life when I haven’t felt confident or been ashamed of weight or other things, trying to be invisible or stay under the radar as exposure would have been too painful, vulnerable.  I’ve kept my ambitions small at times, and settled for less, which is a way of living small, and I regret that and grieve that time and energy lost.  I’m not small-minded, thankfully, but rather open-minded and a dreamer (Aquarius) and great at big picture planning (director/manager/coordinator).


Adjusting my thinking about my body as small is going to take some time.  I actually don’t consider it small at all.  It’s smaller, yes, but small?  No, not yet.  It is like wearing new clothes, though.  Foreign at first, then more familiar as time goes on, after some turns in the sun and rain and laundry, and as cat hair finds it (the cat hair always, always finds it).  It has been that way body-wise also.  Realizing I take up less space, and instead of trying to cave myself in to make myself seem smaller, I'm now standing straighter, slowly being more aware and purposely filling space with my body. Noticing how my arms feel crossed over my abdomen, that I have ribs, actually.  Staying aware, and spending time in gratitude for all my body is, has survived, and has taken through in this life.  


Feeling and appreciating my body getting smaller is also quite emotion-producing.  Getting reacquainted with muscles and joints that I can now see more so is sometimes a bit baffling at first, too.  Breathing through it, expressing gratitude to my body and each individual part is now part of my practice of mindfulness.  


I don’t like the idea of small if it means less powerful, though I know I needn’t worry about that.  The quarterback of our league-winning grade school and high school football teams was small, only about 5’8”.  His comment to his skeptics was “dynamite comes in small packages”.  As women, though, I think often small is equated with not being powerful or needing protection or shielding on some levels, so perhaps that is part of my thinking that also needs adjusting.  I do know some pretty feisty women 5'2" and under - you know who you are, xo - and they are some kind of wonderful-powerful.  Size really does not matter when it comes to power; each size has its advantages and disadvantages, and it's up to us to claim our unique powers and use them well and wisely.


Examining my thoughts and beliefs around the variations on small will be a good exercise, turning them around, asking what’s as true or truer than what I used to think or believe.  Visualizing myself as small(er) is an ongoing challenge and revelation at the same time.  (Thank goodness for my coaching tools.)  


Small.  Small is huge.  And so, I'm relieved that life is paradox as usual, in all its beauty and mystery.   


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