“It’s a wild and wonderful thing to bump into someone and realize it’s you,” Fil Anderson says. The author Emily Freeman writes: “Coming home can do that to a person. Could it be possible that the person you’re competing with the most is some idealized version of you that you can never live up to? Would you be willing to set her free?”
Awhile ago I, for the first time in my life, began showering with other women. One day I take off my red swimsuit in the communal shower, rinse and wring it out, tired of not feeling free. I lather my hair and note the protocol of who looks where. I also notice the devil-may-care of all the women under the spigots who have grey hair. Their breasts, on some, hang past their navels. Their bums are creased maps of lives they’ve lived that they aren’t hiding. My eight-inch scar crevassed down my belly hasn’t raised an eyebrow; at least not one I’ve seen elevated near me.
I put on make-up later getting ready for the day, and notice girls taking to the toilet stalls to shirk off their wet coverings. I was those girls in my twenties, in my thirties, until all too recently. My heart aches for what it means to bump and twist in four tight walls trying to change, while longing to change more deeply.
I notice during my class that I’m being gentler with my body. The tight snap next to my knee brings my kindness not my disappointment these days. I place my hand over the taught ache and listen. Last year I would’ve sighed, disgusted with my weakness. Today I adjust my rhythm and my pace.
I want to do ultra trail runs, joining those who love leaves and filtered sunshine, the views up high and hard earned muscle, like me. I want to run through vineyards and mountains on vacation with my husband, staying the night in B and Bs. My dream has something to do with beauty, outdoors and inspiring bravery. I’m not sure what it is yet, but I’m starting to feel my way.
I am learning to listen to my aches. To run towards them, not away. Not just towards the pain filled ones, or the ones in my legs, but also to the aches behind my dreams. I’m learning to breathe through disappointment and desire so deep, two sides of the same me. I’m learning to give my attention intentionally and not escape when what I see, feel and think makes me mistake wanting for craving.
I was clockwatching, ten to eight... ten after... 15 minutes left of class. I was tired, breathing hard, but this is what I take away when I run those intervals in deep water every day - I not only diminish cortisol, I sweat myself awake. I become alive to my body. I take up the real estate that is the length and breadth of my hips and my thighs, of my arms and my belly. I make strong, brave, resilient waves with every inch of my frame. I make a home under my stretch marks and dimples in a baptism of turquoise every day. For one hour I learn how to be silent in desire so keen and I swim through it to the other side, to play. As I sweat and integrate, my deepest prayers become embodied. Become me.
I enjoyed the echo-y laughter of multiple decades gossiping and preparing for their day. I leaned back and closed my eyes, relaxing into the temple that is mine and said thank you. Thank you for this feeling, for this delight sparkling inside of me. I am free.
Coaching helps clients come home to their bodies. If you are longing to discover freedom and safety inside your own skin, I'd love to support you. Please feel free to reach out here.