Ideal vs. Real – My Fight for the Perfect Body
by Amber Krzys (age 35)
We as a culture are familiar with setting goals. We hear all the time, “Dream big.” ”Create your reality.” Which I agree with. I find value in setting goals, intentions and getting clear on what I want in my life. But what about when it comes to our bodies? I can’t help but wonder if we’re holding so strongly to an ideal that we can’t see what’s right in front of our face?
Sometime as a young girl, I created an ideal image of what I was supposed to look like. I call this image THE perfect body. And that is exactly what she is…Perfect.
She is taller than me. Thinner. Has bigger boobs. She doesn’t have any cellulite or unwanted body hair. She’s confident. Loves to shop and can eat anything she wants whenever she wants it. Those are just a few of her magical traits.
She was quite different from me. For over thirty years “Perfect Body” was my model of beauty. I believed that in order for me to have value, or in order for my body to have value, I had to be her. And I fought like crazy for that. I fasted. I over-exercised. I followed every diet plan out there. I thought continuously about how to lose weight. I was overly critical, unappreciative and unhappy.
Truth be told, I was in an abusive relationship with my body. I punished her for years. By punishing her, I was ultimately punishing myself. I walked around not wanting to be seen. I hid in my clothes. Or I forced myself to wear clothes that didn’t fit properly because they were a size 6 and I couldn’t go above THAT size!
From the outside I looked happy. I always had a smile on my face “out there”. But on the inside I was completely insecure and miserable. Miserable because I had created an Ideal. A made-up image that I clung to so desperately that it prevented me from seeing the gift in front of my face. That gift being my REAL body.
When I first started to examine this concept of getting to know my actual body, I had an epiphany. I realized…I am NEVER going to be taller, have bigger boobs, no cellulite or unwanted body hair. Those aren’t possible for me. By believing they were, I was an active participant in the vicious cycle of punishment.
In that moment, with that awareness, something happened. A shift. I was more free. I felt like I got to see my real body for the first time ever. And boy, was she happy to see me!
It was like I finally pulled that ratty, smelly, old book off the shelf and opened it up to discover the most miraculous, magical story! By “opening her up”, I discovered such beauty and joy. I started to see my body as the gift she is. I found gratitude for the way she hears and responds to music. For the way she loves to dance. For the simple pleasures she provides me of sight, touch, taste, smell. Suddenly there was so much to see. So much I was WILLING to see. My lesson was letting go of the Ideal to embrace what was/is Real.
By holding so tightly to that Ideal, I limited the unlimited. I didn’t allow for surprises or for something better. Which, by the way, is what I have found. Something better. This body I have is exquisite. I now walk through life with confidence, fully knowing exactly what my body needs to thrive…not just survive. She is my friend. Not my enemy. I have opened to a place of pure compassion for her.
Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t slip up every now and then. I am human and sometimes my old boyfriends Ben & Jerry still get the best of me. But I don’t beat myself up anymore. I reconnect and recommit to taking care of her. Which is ultimately taking care of me.
So…if you find flaw in every little thing and, in a way, enjoy picking things apart, I’ve got news for you. You may be suffering from “Ideal vs. Real” too. Something to consider: What if perfect looks different than how we’ve imagined? Are you willing to hold onto your dreams loosely and allow for something even better to come into your life?
Might be a fun exercise to say YES! “Yes” to who you are. ”Yes” to all the wonderful things your body offers you. And “Yes” to seeing perfection in your imperfection.
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Copyright Ark Stories 2011