Finding Perfection in My Imperfections
“But when you open your mouth!” my therapist, passionately, almost pleadingly interrupted me. Her tone pierced me, alerted me to reality as if I kept missing it- because I did.
A few seconds before, I was sharing that I was feeling some anxiety about meeting some people with whom my husband had been working for months producing a play that he and I had written on a scale that he and I had yet to be able to produce it on.
It was an amazing opportunity -- a fantastic blessing and while I had been very hands on in past runs, this time I sat it out, gleefully watching and cheering from the sidelines while taking care of home, the kids and my production company.
Then came the request: would I mind filming and editing a few scenes? Of course I wouldn’t! I set to work reading the script again, storyboarding, creating my shot list and preparing myself to do one of my favorite things ever. However, reality set in as the shoot day approached. I started to think about their reactions to me: the other name in the written “by” line that they might have heard so much about. I imagined that they would see me and with utter disappointment say, “Oh that’s his wife?”
“But when you open your mouth!”
“Yeah…” I politely, half-heartedly agreed with a half-smile.
She continued. She spoke of my gifts and talents, of my vision, of my heart, of my empathy and creativity. She spoke of how many people I would touch and help in the future. She kept pouring into me. Kept uplifting. Kept speaking the truth as she saw it --as someone quite literally on the outside, looking in (because I allowed her into that space). And thank God that I did. That day I wasn’t exactly convinced as we continued on with our session, but over eight months later it still resonates. The statement replays in my head when I start to place too much weight on my weight.
I have been overweight for over 25 years of my life. The number on the scale has gone up and down and in each direction has taken my confidence with it. The overcompensation for being a fat-kid in a family of skinny people started early. I excelled academically and placed all of my ego eggs in the basket of accomplishment. When you become an adult, however, they stop handing out grades, ribbons and trophies. The closest you’re going to get are your performance reviews at work.
You can imagine, then, the confusion spiral I went down when I decided to leave my job and run my company full-time. There was no one there to pat me on the back. There was no one there to tell me I’m doing great or to say I’m the best. No set, consistent salary to validate my capabilities. I came face to face with my reason for a Journey to Self: learning to just BE and allowing that to be enough. It would have to be enough to show up (and confidently at that), enough to be grateful for, enough to take pride in: the simple fact that I exist and have unique traits within me that are worth celebrating and sharing. Against what seemed to be instinct, I’ve had to actively agree with the notion that my worth and value in this world are not dependent upon the number on my clothes tags or the number on my scale.
Because that’s what we’ve been taught, right? “Fat people are lazy. Fat people lack self control. Fat people have low self-worth and they absolutely should because they are fat and are worth less.” We praise women who snap back immediately after the bodily trauma of pregnancy and childbirth. We live in the gym. We watch what we eat and deny ourselves. A lot of times it’s not out of concerns for our health and in honor our temples but to avoid the guilt of shame that comes with the headshakes and whispers of “Yikes, she really let herself go.”
That therapy session was my wake up call. Too often I operate from a space of deficit, focusing on what I don’t have instead of celebrating, then utilizing what I do. What my therapist helped me to understand was that even if I didn’t show up looking like a trophy-wife (by my own impossible standards- mind you), what happens when I open my mouth and share what I have inside is reason enough to show up fully and allow God to use this imperfect vessel. In that way He can receive all of the glory because (not in spite) of my physical imperfection. I had to start seeing this burden of being overweight as a catalyst for connection instead of a cause for condemnation.
I didn’t get this way overnight, neither mentally or physically, so the work I am putting in to change my mindset and to care for my temple from a space of love for who I am and not out of shame of what I am not, is ongoing. I am reminded of when Jesus went into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan. There in that desolate, vulnerable place, Satan told Jesus lies that sounded like truth, lies that Satan even twisted around and supported with scripture. But prior to that encounter Jesus studied, learned, and knew enough for himself to discount even the most believable lies. He knew who He was, whose He was and more importantly, what that meant.
The Devil really is a liar. He’s been whispering lies to me since I was eight years old...just so that they can manifest and keep me bound up for such a time as this. But no more. With each step on my journey to Self, the narrative I entertain, believe and repeat about myself changes more and more. It sounds like more Truth. It sounds more like love. It sounds more like God.
He’s setting me free. I hope this piece starts the journey of doing the same for someone else.
I’ve opened my mouth.