Yesterday, I posted a little note on social media which describes how I've been feeling about my body postpartum.
I needed to share the sh*tty voice in my head that told me I needed to lose my pregnancy weight ASAP. My hope was to disempower it a little and perhaps dispel the perfectionism of new motherhood in the process.
It worked! I'm touched by how many of you responded and shared your own experiences around body image, pregnancy and breastfeeding. I learned a lot and felt way less alone after sharing my truth.
Read the post and comments here on Facebook and here on Instagram.
Today, two self-care thoughts are sprouting up from that conversation...
1) We are so different from each other.
Just from this conversation I saw that...
Some women lost a lot of weight while breastfeeding. Others didn't at all or lost their milk supply when their weight got too low.
Some women felt better about their physical selves after they became mothers. Others thought it had forever changed their bodies in ways they didn't like.
Further, some women are mothers and others aren't. One moment we feel peaceful about this and then maybe we don't at all.
I think it's normal to have reactions and judgments about these differences. People often speak thinking mostly of their own experience.
It's really hard to take on the perspective of another, especially when experiences are tender and our feelings are deeply-held as identity. This is life, especially as it's playing out in our culture right now.
2) Yet, we are the same.
We are the same in that we all have a story to tell that is meaningful. There are hard, disorienting aspects to that story and parts that make us feel like scrappy heroines.
Usually, telling our whole story to others in a safe space makes us feel more integrated as human beings.
It's scary to do this because we have to open up and expose ourselves. A voice deep inside of us screams for stop it because we are risking injury. It wonders if others can really understand us and if our words will be held against us.
Because if someone doesn't hear our pain or recognize our strength, it can feel even worse. It teaches us to keep it all inside and avoid trusting others.
But when others nod along and get us? Well, that's incredibly healing. We see ourselves reflected in each other and realize we are all struggling and shining at the same time.
Finding those safe spaces and practicing the courage to share our truth is the most effective form of self-care I know. It's like years of therapy within a powerful conversation.
(How do I know? I've seen it happen so many times in my self-care circles. Check out the upcoming winter one here.)
Sharing also helps us to see each other more clearly. Within the sameness of this experience of opening up, we can learn to truly appreciate the different creatures that we most definitely are. We learn from our differences instead of being so divided by them.
This weekend, many will march in support of black women lives in Washington DC. Others will spend the day in prayer or tend to loved ones at home or stay courageously afloat in their depression or simply touch the soft ground of nature to revitalize their spirits.
In the process, may all struggle a bit with self-love or love for others. It will be hard to understand ourselves and seem almost impossible to comprehend others. Again, I think this is normal.
Still, does it have to hold us back? Within these realities, can we show up as porous and understanding as possible?
Can we open our minds to hearing from different ears, seeing a wider view and learning more about ourselves in the process?
Could we create a world - one secure enough in its sameness that it can open its arms to the challenges of difference?
My hope is that we can and my sense is that we are and my heart fills so sincerely from the depth of this moment, shaky and tender and immensely powerful for us all.