There is about a thirty pound difference between these two photos, both taken at Disneyland, almost exactly three years apart.
A lot of things transpired in the time between these two photos ~ one of the major things being a bipolar diagnosis. With the diagnosis came some form of clarity, for sure. Mostly, though, it meant embarking on a mental wellness journey that involved learning how to love myself, allow myself more grace, and to let go of the ideologies that were no longer serving me. It also meant trying out different medications to figure out what worked and what didn't (clearly not the medication that caused me to put on 25lbs in under three months in the fall of 2014).
There was a lot of trial and error and having to learn patience with my body while trusting my strength (and faltering on those two points a million times over). There was a lot of learning to sort out what was part of the disorder and what was part of my journey ~ and learning how to let those two intertwine, learning how to listen and allow them to teach. Four years after initial diagnosis, I am back to the medical trial and error because that's just how brain disorders work. (It's so fun. Like so so so fun.)
This means taking a step back and reviewing my self-care routine, my coping mechanisms, my patience, and how I move in this world. Because, after four years, I get to be a different me ~ the one who walked each step of this path and carried some of the stones of wisdom with her. I'm also the one who did a lot of kicking at some of the other stones along the way because I'm proudly stubborn and so are brain disorders. Maybe that's why I have one. <insert cosmic skies opening while choirs sing>
It also means recognizing all the steps I've taken during the time between these two photos ~ the stupid ones (I may be the queen of stupid ideas - I have a lot of really good ones) and the ones that opened up new ways to heal and cope in a healthy way.
It means acknowledging that I am equally loveable in both these photos but that I didn't equally love myself thirty plus pounds ago. I wasn't as gentle, as patient, or, frankly, as nice as I could've been. I spewed judgments at myself that I wouldn't spew at anyone else. I let a ton of social judgments about women take over and I put the old negative loop about myself on repeat. It didn't serve me or my children or my partner. They still loved me unconditionally but I struggled to. (See? Stubbornness on full view here.)
I think it's important to reflect on where we've been and where we are now, what steps we've taken to grow and what we've learned. We owe it to ourselves to recognize the good we've done and the love we've learned to give ~ to remember the positives and the negatives of the moment and to appreciate that all those moments have led to this one. Even amidst being not so loving.
We owe it to ourselves to nourish every ounce of our being even when we feel less than loving; we owe it to ourselves to throw off the judgments society heaps onto a woman's appearance, the equating of one's worth with weight and looks. We owe it to ourselves to not foster space for those judgments to continue.
We owe it to ourselves to create, to be intentional, to be aware, to immerse ourselves in the truth of our own strength, our own beauty, the wonder of our own hearts. We owe it to ourselves to look the unknown in the eye and know for certain that we can move through it and be more than okay - and that we can be loveable the entire time.