Last week I went to get my hair dyed (aka decided it was time to cover my grays) and while I was waiting for the my hair color to lift (turns out it takes some extra time when you repeatedly box dye your hair for a year straight) I started talking to another women.
Willing talking to strangers isn’t something I have done since I was a kid. I remember being really good at making friends when I was young. On vacation without my buddies? No problem there are some kids boogie boarding next to me! Fast friends. But then somewhere along the line I just stopped. The experience of being left out and rejected during my adolescence taught me to withdraw, put my guard up and protect myself. Life hardened me and made me retreat at a young age and I wasn’t fully aware that I was still doing it until recently.
Back to the story… I literally have no idea how we started talking about motherhood and pregnancy, but we did and it turns out that we are both hoping to grow our families in the near future and we also both struggle with eating, body image and having a healthy relationship with food and exercise. I was really open and shared honestly with her and she took this as an opening to do the same. Sounds so basic, but it was really powerful. We dropped the BS and the small talk and in return got a powerful connection.
First I want to just pause and say that this conversation started 100% as a result of the time and dedication I have been putting into personal development. I have made it a 15 minute daily practice and I see the difference in myself.
I was just explaining the importance of personal development to a friend and put it this way. Just like any other relationship (your marriage, your friendships, etc), you have to invest time and work on your relationship with yourself. It is hands down the most important relationship you’ll ever have.
I crave connection and also isolate myself from being seen and being put in situations where there is the risk of rejection and pain. I am reading You Are a Badass and there is a chapter “Loosen Your Bone Wilma” where Jen Sincero is talking about her trip to India. She talks about how different culturally the people there are and how they have something figured out that we have all forgotten. She was pushed out of her comfort zone and what she learned was:
“Talk to strangers, we’re all family on this planet. Expect and enjoy the unexpected. Find the humor. Join the party. Live in the moment. Time spent enjoying yourself is never time wasted.”
I obviously took a note from Jen which is how this conversation in the salon happened in the first place. I remember saying, “Yeah, I have a self diagnosed eating disorder but it’s as real as they come. I struggle with binges and overeating my feelings when shit gets hard or I start to feel pain. My body changing during pregnancy was really hard for me and I put a lot of pressure on myself because I truly associate and am working to break my pattern of thinking that my self worth and acceptance is driven solely by how much I weigh and how I look. I’m trying to get really strong mentally and physically before I get pregnant again and I want so badly to teach my daughter to love her body and to not have fear or guilt around food.” The women looked at me and replied, “Do you know how refreshing it is to hear someone else say that out loud and for you to be so honest about this?”
That’s not to say her struggles were the same as mine, but pregnancy period is hard. Your body changes no matter who you are and dealing with body image and societal pressures are a real and big thing.
Ask any mother and I guarantee you she will have a handful of inappropriate comments that she received about her body while she was pregnant. Not to mention that culturally we are trained to believe that a successful pregnancy is one where the mother has a volleyball stomach while pregnant and is in her pre-pregnancy jeans exiting the hospital after delivery with a smile on her face.
The more we talk about about it all the less power it has, the less alone we feel and the more aware we are of the inner dialogue that isn't serving us. The awareness gives us a chance to sit with the feelings we have, walk through them and then drop what we can, leaving us cleansed and in a better space.
Lets reframe what success in motherhood looks like. Lets make it ALL about us and personal to what we want, need and believe.
A successful pregnancy for me will be one where I am nourishing and moving my body daily, where I am taking care of my mind, where I am showing myself a lot of gratitude, compassion and love AND where I see myself as strong and beautiful from week 1 until week 40.
I am dropping expectation, pressure and judgment.
At the end of the day I want to to feel good everyday, be grateful for the fing miracle that is happening in my body, I want to be strong physically and mentally and I want to be present in the experience because it’s a fleeting moment that I will hopefully get to experience only a handful of times.
This is as true to pregnancy as it is to anything else that you may be dealing with. Take some time to look at what you want, what gets in your way and then make the decision to try something different.