I caught myself in a mindless scroll of fit girl Instagram. Even with this awareness, I was compelled to scroll several more times before I put my phone down.
When I finally did, I noticed there was a heaviness in my chest.
After a lifetime of dissociating from that feeling in my chest, I had to talk myself into feeling it. It led me to sadness, and I started to cry.
It was a soundless and tearless cry. My face scrunched up all ugly, my chest caved in, my head hung low. My lungs heaved like I was crying, but no sound or tears came out.
The heaviness in my chest took over my body and I just…felt it. I felt it all.
This isn’t the first time I’ve cried after scrolling fitgirl Insta, but this time felt different.
I wasn’t crying because I felt unworthy, which is usually the case.
I’ve done a lot of work around my unworthiness, so even though there was a flavor of unworthiness in the sadness in my chest, that wasn’t the whole soup.
This time, the feeling of unworthiness was just one ingredient, but the broth of sadness was made up of something different. It was a sense of grief about how the way I exist in my body has never felt okay.
Like many women, I started carrying this burden as a young child — way too young to carry anything much less such a profound belief of unworthiness and hatred toward myself and my body.
Now I cried for all the tears I’ve cried (and haven’t cried) in my life over this burden of body unworthiness. How fragile my worth has been all this time that it gets thrown away so quickly based on how bloated my stomach decided to be that day, or how skinny the women I pass on the street are. Or how much attention my boyfriend gives other women. Or how much I’ve eaten that day. These should not be factors that affect a human’s worthiness. But they have always been for me. And for this, I grieve.
I’ve only been a scoop of ice cream away from a shame spiral. What a terrifying way to live.
Think of all those inner protectors and defenses I had to develop within myself to support such a fragile sense of worthiness. Think of how hard those parts of me have had to work to protect me from the all-consuming shame living in my belly.
I was just a little girl when I learned to believe I’m only as worthy as men think my body is. I was a child that had to twist herself to survive a world that did not value her for anything on the inside, only how she showed up on the outside. That’s too much for a little girl. That’s too much for anyone.
Think of all the time, money, energy and attention I’ve spent trying to reconcile my own fragile worthiness. All the time in the gym, all the money on the products, how I always criticize my reflection in each window I pass. I don’t want to know how many cumulative years of my life I have spent critiquing my body in the mirror.
I thought if I work hard enough to get other people to say I am worthy, then maybe I’ll believe it for myself. But even when others tell me I’m beautiful, my opinion of myself and my worthiness doesn’t change.
Because my inner protectors know what would happen as soon as I stop trying, as soon as I gain weight, and as soon as I become “too much.” At worst, I would be abandoned all over again. At best, I would spiral down and shame would take me over.
It doesn’t really matter if people tell me I am beautiful and worthy, it is too dangerous to believe them.
What a burden to carry. The myth of my unworthiness.
So I just sat there and cried, letting my heartbreak for my own story.
After a long while, I realized this is how revolutions are started. From the inside out.
I have a hunch that the final healing of my opinion of my body and worthiness will not come in the form of angrily bucking the patriarchal system. It will not come with a fight.
It will come with the quiet realization that I am here in this skin, in my body, and nobody can tell me that is a bad thing.
And even deeper, it will come with a quiet resolution to trust. To trust amidst all of society’s “evidence” against it, that my body is enough. It is enough. And it is okay to exist in it.
Only then will I put my weapons down. And along with them, I will finally be able to put down the burden of existing in a body that is not enough.
The voice of love does not ask me to fight against the patriarchy. The voice of love asks me to do the even deeper courageous thing and accept myself as I am. To lay down the illusion that I exist in a body that is not enough. And to trust, if only in this moment, that the way I exist is enough. That is is okay to exist the way I exist.
Ironically, women putting down our weapons and our burdens and accepting ourselves as we are is what will actually unravel the patriarchy in the end.
It starts inside. It starts with you and me trusting that how we exist is enough. And embodying that in every interaction we have — especially within ourselves.
Then we let love take it from there.