Wanna know what scares me the most?
It might sound ridiculous, but that’s just the way I am. It’s been that way ever since having kids.
So imagine my nightmare recently when, while traveling in Europe, my luggage got misplaced. It was going to be a couple of days, so I needed to go buy a couple of things for myself.
I know. This situation would be a fantasy for a lot of people – a quick shopping spree in Europe just for you? Wow
Well, not for me. For me? Total nightmare.
I’m organized and (mostly) have my sh!t together but when I misplace something I seriously wrack my brain.
So when it’s not my fault and I have no control, I get very upset. Depressed even.
And it occurred to me. This situation reminded me of old feelings. Feelings I had when I lived here a dozen + years ago.
Back then I had a new to me, post-baby body. Losing my luggage meant I needed to go clothes shopping– and shopping with my now middle aged body is sometimes triggering for me.
Those feelings came back to me.
I don’t like to try things on. I don’t like not knowing what size I am in European sizing. I don’t like having things not fit right. I didn’t have the patience to go through all of this in the store with an infant back then. I also didn’t really speak German at the time either.
So here I was, standing in a store present day with my partner, despondent because I wasn’t seeing anything I even wanted to try on. In my head, I kept ruminating over the “lost” pieces in my luggage. Pieces that I liked the way my body felt and looked in. Wondering how I was going to replace those exact things.
It was spiraling a little out-of-control and I knew I had to share what was going through my head to my partner. At first, he was getting frustrated; he’s a scientist so a little detached from emotions from time to time. And he struggles to understand my distaste for shopping because HE LOVES to shop.
But seeing me sort of speechless to describe why I was upset, he simply asked softly, “do you need a hug?”
I accepted and quietly wept in his arms in the middle of this store.
That was what I needed.
From there I was able to stop from going further down the rabbit hole, ask for help, and find some things I could use.
I struggle off and on with my own body image. I’m MUCH better thanks to my studies of human sexuality. It began to open my eyes to all of the sources that sneakily tell me how I should look. Plus the work I do has helped me avoid passing on my crap to my daughters.
But there are times like these that this issue again rears its ugly head. All of this even though I know this crappy self talk comes from unhealthy, often gendered messaging. But this knowledge is what helps me let the feeling pass.
I’m glad my partner was there to listen and empathize with me.
Do you struggle with body image? Are there triggers that raise those issues again for you? Comment below and share yours.