What is an item you have kept with you that reminds you of an important time in your life? Whether it was a good day, a stressful time, or a happy moment… why does this item remind you of that period of your life?
I had to think long and hard about this question - well, not really~ My high school jeans shorts were the first image that came to mind, even though I have saved a few things from my past: the special marbles my dad bought me when he taught me how to play, laying down on the carpet at age five with an agate and everything, and learning the strategy of how to aim and connect in a straight line - mostly, the joy of being close to my dad; old photos of boyfriends and girlfriends no longer in my life; my favorite funky leather wristband bracelet; and even an incense burner that saw many hours of patchouli and sandalwood burning during my teenage years.
I saved my high school jeans shorts for no other reason but for inspiration from the freedom I felt in them when I put them on. I bought them after I lost weight and went from feeling locked up in my body to being alive in my skin. I have a picture of myself in them at our senior class picnic in a park in Westchester, seated at a picnic table and wearing a mint green tea short, my long legs stretched out in front of me.
My early years were strewn with the many ups and downs of weight and a very skewed relationship with my body. My weight fluctuated a lot: ten pounds up - twenty down; 50 pounds up - fifteen down, and so on. At its height, my weight was two hundred and twenty pounds. Connected to all of that was a deep level of underconfidence, unworthiness and low self-esteem. And connected to that, of course, was more...
I remember originally saving these shorts as inspiration that I could lose that weight again, and be that girl stepping into those shorts. For many years, I posted the picture from the picnic up on my closet mirror to inspire me daily. I first put it up when I had a breakthrough in my own healing work and wanted a talisman to have by my side, and each day, I began my morning by looking into the girl in the picture...
What happened? I started to love her up regardless of her weight and see who she was underneath those jean shorts. I discovered she was worthy, loveable and beautiful, no matter what number the scale showed. She became a symbol of my inner strength, and I saw her (me) as beautiful at any weight. When I tried the shorts back on after some weight loss, they did not fit, only now they represented something completely different. I kept them to remind me of my journey to freedom, and as the years rolled by, I became a woman who could love herself and dress herself with love at any weight.
It wasn't until three years ago that, on a whim, I put the shorts back on and easily stepped into them, pulling them up. By this time, I had healed my relationship with food and my body and had been counseling in the field for many years. I was already in a place of deep and profound self-love and respect. Instead of an earth-shattering moment that was all about who I was when I weighed a certain number, what crept across my mouth was a slow smile of recognition. It was the knowing that I had made it to what I used to view as "there," which was now "here," and the smile was for the journey itself; my soul's journey, and being present to the fact that I wouldn't have traded any of the experiences, feelings and stops along the way that brought me to this moment just to fit into those jeans. I could put them on now as a whole person, seeing myself from a different lens.
The jean shorts still sit folded on a shelf in my closet as reminder of my Self that was born from having them by my side. I write this post to remind us all that it is the person stepping into the clothes, not the clothes themselves, who needs to fit and make sense. When we strip away the symbols, we are left with the truth, and it is that truth we want to embrace and love beyond anything else. What do we need to do to love ourselves on this level? Whatever that is, I encourage you to take one step today towards that goal~