This summer, after months of procrastinating, I finally mustered up enough courage to make an appointment for my yearly gynecological exam (which at this point would not even qualify as yearly) . Now there are several reasons I would rather walk barefoot across hot coals than go to this appointment. Some are quite obvious (stirrups), and some not so much (the scale).
I’m not going to rehash my feelings about the scale right now. Suffice it to say that the scale and I do not have a healthy relationship. If you’d like, you can catch up on, or refresh your memory about this topic here and here.
I was fighting some unhealthy urges the week prior to my appointment. But then, one afternoon shortly before the scheduled day, I received an email from my across the street neighbor.
She had forwarded a letter written by her daughter-in-law, Michelle. In the letter, Michelle explained how the cancer she had beaten several years earlier had resurfaced. She was now battling stage IV cancer. The purpose of her letter was to ask for support for a film entitled “One Way A Journey to This Moment”. She wanted something good to come from her experience, and this film documented her journey in finding peace with her diagnosis, and learning to live in the moment.
I instantly went to Michelle’s blog, and read my way through to her most recent post without coming up for air. I was overcome with heartache for her family, inspired by her attitude and determination, and embarrassed by my own shallowness.
A number on the scale vs. stage IV cancer.
Since that time, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking.
My immediate reaction was a stern self talk. I obviously needed to get over myself. The number on a scale was causing me anxiety? How could I possibly continue to let the scale dictate my feelings about myself. I was healthy.
I needed to rewire my brain, but I wasn’t quite sure how.
After a lot of soul searching, I made some decisions.
First of all, I would refuse to act upon the voices in my head telling me the number on the scale determined my self worth. The number on the scale would be just that. A number.
I would go through my closet and drawers, and donate any article of clothing that didn’t fit, or made me feel uncomfortable, to Goodwill.
I would stop giving power to the mirror. Analyzing myself in the mirror searching for flaws and avoiding mirrors were equally detrimental for me.
I would stop comparing myself to others. This included, but certainly was not limited to models in magazines, authors of health and fitness blogs, and Facebook or Instagram highlight pictures.
I would focus outward rather than inward. Outward appearance needed to take a backseat to building better relationships with those I loved and cared about, and developing a greater appreciation for my surroundings.
Wondering how that all worked out for me? Well, let me tell you. I can honestly say I am feeling more comfortable in my own skin. But, I’d be lying if I said that it was effortless. So… maybe not quite a “happily ever after”, but definitely a “making progress”.
End of story? No. Not quite.
I’ve continued to think about Michelle’s hope for her film, and this is what I’ve come up with:
Comparing your life’s journey to anyone else’s is just as detrimental as comparing your body to someone else’s. We all have struggles. For some, it’s physical. For others, it’s mental. We don’t get to pick our genetic makeup. We don’t get to choose what challenges we may encounter. We don’t ask for cancer or diabetes. We don’t sign up for autism. We don’t request depression or anxiety.
But the reality is, while we don’t choose our challenges, we can choose how we deal with those challenges. And how we choose to deal with those challenges can be an inspiration to others.
Thank you, Michelle, for being an inspiration. Thank you for being my catalyst for change.