Last week, I began to incorporate a new practice into my morning and evening routine. After getting out of the shower or washing my face or brushing my teeth, without makeup on, I look myself directly in the eyes and say, I accept myself completely, right now.
The first day, I inhaled deeply, closed the bathroom door and leaned over the counter. As I looked into my own eyes (for the first time in a very long time), the first thought that came into my mind was, When did you start looking so old? I exhaled. I inhaled. I exhaled again. The emotions came, wavelike, swelling and then passing and I spoke out loud: I accept myself completely, right now.
It’s so easy to let ourselves travel back to when “it was easier” – when our kids were small, or before we had children. Back when the laundry didn’t pile quite so high, when we weren’t as busy, when we had more time for friends or a social life or a spouse. It’s so easy to wish we could get back what we once had. After childbirth, women focus on “getting their body back.” After a rift in a relationship, we plan out how to “get back what we had.”
While I truly believe that it’s important to set positive and realistic goals, the one major fault with this wording is that we simply can’t go back. We move on from where we are today.
From the perspective of a mother who struggled with accepting the new version of her body after childbirth, I deeply understand the desire to get back what was. But going back would mean no baby. Going back would mean losing the experience of carrying and birthing a child.
From the perspective of a woman who has dedicated herself to building and maintaining a marriage that is filled with love, one that honours both of us, that maintains respect, acceptance and kindness, I deeply understand that sometimes fear grips around your throat very tightly. Sometimes all you can see is that vulnerability means an increased likelihood of painful loss. But that’s not how we grow. That’s not how we honour. That’s not the path to happiness.
I’m not saying that I’ve never made mistakes and slipped up and said hurtful things and made the wrong choices. Oh no. My life has been littered with words lashed out in anger and fear. I have felt the cold grip of panic, the fear of loss, the certainty that I am not nearly strong enough to make it through this life. But ultimately, I always come back home. Ultimately, I remember that fear and anger (directed outside or in) are not the tools to building a life of intention.
We can’t go back, but we can evolve and grow and become stronger than we were. We can become more connected to the light that shines from within and grow stronger after moving through a challenging time. We can continue to learn that peace comes by accepting ourselves completely, exactly as we are today.