For decades, I have had a deep loathing for my body, with a few, brief interludes of positive feeling for it. Even when I felt a bit more at ease in my own skin, it wasn’t really deep, not really lasting. I was still very focused on the love I would have for myself being completely dependent on what number was on the scale. It didn’t do much for my self esteem and I often felt like I was on a roller coaster about my own appearance.
However, one ritual that has been a constant for me, no matter how large my skin mass from one year to the next, has been using lotion every day. After every shower or bath, I have been applying lotion to my entire body for as long as I can remember. I can’t remember what prompted me to begin this way of interacting with myself, maybe simply dry skin. But, now, no matter what season of the year, lotion is still part of my daily living.
Although lotion, by its texture and smell, seems like a loving practice to give to myself, I have often felt pretty unloving toward myself as I would apply it. Feeling the details, rolls, and curves of my body has been a pretty negative experience for me. I would put my lotion on, and scrutinize how much larger or smaller a part of my body felt. I would look down at my stomach as I would put it on and feel deep shame. At times, it felt as if I would never be able to be accepting of my body, as it is, and embrace the ritual as a loving practice to give to my vessel, every single day.
And then, over time, just in the last few months, something magical happened. My thoughts about my body started to shift, in solid ways. I stopped judging myself by my size. I stopped scrutinizing my wrinkles and rolls and curves. I started to really, deeply appreciate the body that I am in, and lotion became a whole different gift to give to my skin.
This morning, as I put lotion on my arms, my legs, my stomach and torso, I felt love. I felt peace. I felt the sensation and it felt so deeply caring and gentle, and I realized that I saw my body, my self, that way, too.
What a miracle.