Whose Body Is This?
It was the summer of 2012, I had just turned 46 and had been legally divorced for 7 months. I was flying high with a sense of self that I had lost a very long time ago. Having spent most of that summer in yoga pants, teaching classes all over the city, I’ll never forget the day I had to transition back to my “professional” life. I couldn’t even finish pulling my favorite pants over my thighs, not to mention my glutes. For me, seemingly there was no transition between “do these pants make my butt look big?” and “whose ass is that?” I had been so caught up rediscovering me apart from my ex after 22 years of marriage, that I hadn’t even noticed that I was officially peri-menopausal. My period had stopped, hot flashes had started, and suddenly I had put on 15 pounds.
Looking at myself in the mirror with those cute pinstripe pants half on, became a time of shame and loss. I was so fragile at that moment, newly divorced, thinking I was figuring it out on my own. When I couldn’t zip my pants up, it was as if the Universe was laughing at me. I continued to live as an inauthentic, lesser version of who God had intended me to be for nearly three more years. Giving into all of my old limiting beliefs and another toxic relationship, I put on even more weight. I was being comforted with deeply rooted beliefs from generations of women who had inherited this idea that menopause is the end. Definitely not a beginning or a time for re-creation of self. Rather, what we more commonly hear is, “you’ll never lose the belly fat now” or “you missed your chance.”
There was a time in my life when I was who I wanted to be. A full-time yoga instructor, leading retreats, and giving the rest of me to my daughter, my dogs, and my garden. But this version of me came without risk, and it came shielded under the lie of what my marriage had become. Though, because I had tasted it, I knew it was possible. Just as I believe we all know our authentic selves, born with this birth-right, but quickly lost with our earliest wounding and traumas. Destined to spend the rest of our lives trying to find our way back. For some, the way home is more easily traveled than others. Regardless of how long the journey is, I believe we are always exactly where we are supposed to be, and we come home only when it’s time.
Learning to Howl Again
A few years after I had grown out of my pants, I was reading, “Women Who Run With the Wolves” by Clarissa Pinkola Estés. Something she wrote was like a rallying cry for me and gratefully stirred the Wild Woman Archetype in me again. Dr. Pinkola Estés writes, “If you don’t learn how to howl you will never find your pack”. God was holding up a big reflective mirror to confront me with that current version of myself that I really didn’t like very much. I had stopped howling, I had stopped even looking at the moon. That day with my pants pulled up only half-way stripped me of a superficial sense of self. I tossed any desire to get her back ~ out with those pants. Now it was finally time, I wanted to howl at the moon, take back my birthright, and finally come home.
Reclaiming Your Sense of Self
I began to envision this image of me that was a blend of what I had once known as myself and who I wanted to be. Equal parts me at birth, that knowing that we all can feel in the liminal space between waking and before the rational mind takes hold for the day; a version of me at seven years old ~ whether it’s made from photographs, memories, or feelings it’s all valid, and a much older me when I was in my early 40s, being true to myself regardless of the price I had to pay to be her, and finally future me. Future me embodied everything I wanted, valued, believed, loved, and had been; only this version of me didn’t come at the price of compromise. Can you see her? What does your blend look, feel, and sound like? We know for certain, she can howl.
The path forward started with yoga, good food, and meditation. I started small. On the first day, I couldn’t even do one pushup ~ even though years before my signature class was defined by them. Now I do 65, 5 mornings a week. Through a whole foods diet, plenty of water, yoga, contemplation, healthy boundaries, and music, I have learned how to be me again. I have dropped 20 pounds, finally quit my safe, steady paycheck life, am in a selfless, healthy partnership for the first time ever, and am living my dream as a Holistic Wellness Coach.
– Holistic Wellness Coach in Training with the International Association of Wellness Professionals
– Yoga Instructor and Reiki Practitioner
– Survivor of divorce, eczema, and motherhood : )
– Fellow Traveler