I realized this past week that I’m not a mean girl anymore. Those of you who know me are thinking, ‘but she’s so nice’. Yeah, I’m nice…to you. I’m talking about how I treat myself.
In many ways I’m still a mean girl, hip jutting to the side, gum popping, eyes rolling, waiting for a vulnerable moment to attack. Like when I’m bloated and my jeans are tight, “Told you you were fat!”
It’s really quite adolescent. If you believe in the inner child thing you’d call her my inner thirteen year old. Awe my poor thirteen year old (the actual one) did go through hell. I spent most of my time wanting to literally crawl out of my skin and disappear. Everything about me felt so wrong, my hair, legs, stomach, boobs (or lack there-of). I lived in a long wool coat that had belonged to my grandpa well into May, way beyond coat season. I wore it to class and only slipped it off after I sat down.
Later in my twenties I spent an incredible amount of time in Cathy’s office talking about chocolate cake,
“I can’t believe I did it again. I ate the entire thing.” I’d touch my stomach, still achy from trying to digest all that sugar, and lower my head in shame. “I’m so fat.”
Cathy sat in her therapist chair, legs crossed. She looked at me with so much compassion, it made me cringe. “Can you be easy on yourself? It’s just cake.”
I stared at her blankly, had no idea what she was talking about. “It was an ENTIRE cake.” Was she even listening to me?
The next week we’d do it again, same time, same place, same conversation. Once in a while she’d ask, “Is there anything besides the cake you want to talk about?”
“Nah.” That went on for another few years.
Fast forward twenty years and here I am, realizing that the mean girl has been with me all along. Her voice is not as loud and she’s no longer running the show. Her uncontrollable drive to eat an entire chocolate cake has lifted. But she is there, just waiting to zing me.
This past week I embarked on a juice cleanse. I’ve wanted to do one for many years but whenever I have tried I’ve failed miserably, quitting by ten in the morning which is completely psychological because on a regular day I’m not hungry until eleven. I saw a flyer for a guided cleanse – a three week group workshop that met once a week, with a one week cleanse in the middle. I thought it might work for me so I signed up.
The first week was prep. My prep was slowly shifting from drinking my morning coffee to drinking water, letting go of sugar (maple syrup in my case), adding in a green juice each day (I bought an incredible new masticating juicer that I have dreamed of having forever), and getting off processed foods (pretty much anything from a package). I’m already vegan so that part was easy, no animal products to cut. I also pulled out my raw foods cookbooks (can I even call them that, cook books?) and started to read recipes.
A few days into the prep I freaked out at the thought of not eating for a week and decided just juice is too extreme (for me) and that my body doesn’t need that level of detox. I went back to the group the next week and announced my decision to do a combo juice and raw food week. Then during the week I realized I wanted my coffee and added decaf back in. And I had some cooked foods as well. It was probably a 90% juice and raw, 10% cooked situation most days.
There are many gifts that came from this experience. I added green juice back into my life (hadn’t juiced in years), learned to make some incredible raw foods, and am excited to continue incorporating juice and raw into my life. Amazing. But what is really blowing my mind is that I listened to my body, was easy on myself, and never, even for one moment, felt like a failure or beat myself up. My inner thirteen year old just sat happily in her corner humming and painting her toe nails neon pink.
Is this what self acceptance feels like?