I was 17.
Standing in front of my brother’s full-length mirror I admired my lean body. I was wearing an old pair of his corduroy pants I hadn’t been able to put on before.
Hmm…my hipbones show now, and look at that flat tummy. I smiled at my reflection. That ten pounds really did it, I thought as I turned this way and that. Only one-hundred-fifteen pounds now, and I didn’t even have to use the diet pills mom had the doctor give me.
I’d been sick with a fever of 104 when I was diagnosed with pneumonia two weeks before. Fever, chills and a swimmy brain for long days was all it had taken to get the ten pound loss that rendered me finally Acceptable to myself and hopefully my mother.
Major landmarks of my life are marked by numbers–the numbers I saw on the scale. Before I started college, my sophomore year, after college when I put myself on a strict diet that included fasting one day a week. What I weighed when I got married, what I weighed before I delivered my daughter, what I weighed when she was three months old.
Recently I saw my doctor for my annual physical. I hadn’t weighed myself in a year and was pleased to find I weighed ten pounds less than I thought. Okay, it’s still far too much, but at least I’m not as heavy as I thought! That’s Acceptable.
When I went to see my Favorite Mental Health Professional, my therapist, I proudly shared my surprising news.
“What if you had weighed ten pounds more instead of ten pounds less? Would that have meant you weren’t acceptable?”
My eyes widened at the thought. THAT would have been a DISASTER!
Reading the response on my face she continued, “But isn’t the goal of self-acceptance to like yourself no matter what the numbers say?”
Never have I run my life that way. Always there has been some way to be Acceptable and a million more ways I am UNacceptable. Too fat/too loud/too friendly/too much of a bother–and the list runs on. Always I’m rating myself in my head. And much of the rating system depends on the feelings and actions of other people, people I have no control over. How can I ever win at THAT game?
I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one dealing with this crazy-making mental game that will always end up with a loser, and believe me, it’s not the other guy in our rating equation. Heck, he may not even know he’s playing!
I hope you’ll join me on this road trip toward a healthier sense of self. I hope you’ll join in what I’d love to see become a conversation between us. One thing we have on a road trip is plenty of time to talk, right?
the BringYourOwnBeverage conversation:
What rules do you use to find yourself Acceptable? What are some of the entries on your UNacceptable list?