Monday, November 1, 2010

Don't Look and It Doesn't Exist

     I've tricked myself into thinking I'm not out of shape. Want to know my secret? I don't look at my gut. I examine my physical appearance  about once a day after getting out of the shower when I look in the mirror with a towel that wraps around and conceals the stomach that I do not care to acknowledge. What only adds to my denial is my stance as I look at my reflection: I'm leaning forward and my chin is slightly extended which obstructs any evidence of a double (or cubed or to the 4th power) chin. That particular mirror tells me I look pretty good.
     I was walking with Max today in a strip mall. I wasn't feeling very good about my appearance and I decided to confirm that feeling by looking at myself in the store window that we were passing. I didn't like what I saw. This glass didn't edit my reflection as nicely as the mirror in my bathroom. I hate that store window. But if I hate that store window, I hate it for telling me the truth. How healthy is that?
     I was brought up in a family that didn't discuss uncomfortable or painful issues. We did not draw attention to that which was on everybody's minds. If we didn't look at it, acknowledge it, or talk about it, maybe it would go away. And if we did that long enough, maybe "it" would never have existed in the first place. So, whatever "it" was, we would just work around it because dealing with the reality of "it" was too unpleasant, hurtful, or shameful.
     Denial is something we develop in childhood. It's a faulty protective mechanism that attempts to keep us safe from a painful truth. It's easier to deny something because the alternative is just too loathsome to think about. Looking at ourselves for who we really are can seem unimaginable. Acknowledging the not so attractive can be  humiliating and bring on the assumed displeasing thoughts of others. But can I just say as someone with my family of origin, acknowledging whatever "it" is is definitely the way to go. Yes, it's hard. Yes, it's humbling. Yes, it may mean tedious work for God knows how long, but health and freedom are so worth it. Plus, wouldn't it be nice to have all that extra living and breathing space in your front room?

1 comment:

moonduster said...

It's good that you are looking at it now. Acknowledging it is the first step.