I used to feel betrayed by my body, like she was constantly trying to undermine every effort I made to change her. I always thought that if my body loved me, and was working for me, then why wouldn't she do what I wanted her to do? Why didn't she look the way I wanted her to look? I was never taught that she was on my side.
My friends' bodies loved them it was so obvious. The girls I saw in the magazines had bodies that loved them, and probably so naturally too. They were always working for them in the ways mine wouldn't. I wanted my body to love me like that. If she loved me, she would listen to my pleas to be anything other than what she was.
I spent so many years believing that my body hated me - and I hated her, too. No matter how much effort I put in, it felt like my body could never get it right.
It wasn't easy for me to realize how much my body really loved me. All the times she was “working against me”, were really her efforts to keep me going. The years I spent depriving her of her needs to be something she couldn't be eventually led to the realization that she was always loving me - but I wasn't loving her back.
Loving my body meant loving myself, and sometimes that's a hard thing to do. Self-love is like taking care of a plant; you see that it's not getting enough sunlight so you put it in a new spot, you see that the soil is dry so you give it some water to help it survive. Our bodies are the same; they're just giving us more complicated signals.
When your body is talking to you, try your best to listen. It's not easy, but every little bit gets you closer to appreciating that our bodies are working so hard to keep us going. Take the time to engage in self-care activities, even if it is something as simple as picking something you are glad your body does for you.
Self-love is all about you, and that can be a hard concept to grasp. It’s finding things that make your heart feel a little more full. It’s being soft with yourself throughout the process, and knowing self-love means something different for everyone. For me, it started with listening to how my body was reacting to situations I was in: how did my heart feel when I was with certain people and doing certain things? From there, it grew to an understanding of what (and who) made my heart happy.
One of the many reasons I got involved with NEDIC is because they’re advocates for the concept of self-love while providing individuals with the tools to support themselves and others. A form of self-love for me is supporting others, and volunteering here has given me the tools to do so. Being a part of this organization has given me a better understanding and appreciation for my body and what it does for me. The work that NEDIC does deserves more credit, just like our bodies do.
You deserve all the love you give to people around you, self-love is necessary and your body is an alarm clock reminding you to check in with yourself.
Kate is an Outreach and Education Volunteer at NEDIC and a Family Centre volunteer at CAMH. She’s passionate about self-care and is a mental health advocate. She hopes to apply for her Masters of Social Work in the fall.