Some days, I feel so ugly.
I know, I know; 'ugly isn't a feeling'.
But let me tell you - it is.
This is how ugly feels.
Ugly feels unloveable. Ugly feels alone. Ugly is rejected, less than, not worthy, not enough, weird, an outcast, beneath others, unsuccessful, unwanted, a rotting apple in the reduced section of a supermarket, shunned and shamed into a dark corner, handled and inspected, glanced at and then seen through, an object unworthy of attention, unworthy of being seen, unworthy of touch, tenderness or - God forbid - adoration.
Ugly is frozenness whenever a camera is around.
Ugly is wanting to smile but not allowing it in case anyone notices - and is repulsed by - the crookedness of your teeth.
See how this word, 'ugly', has wormed its way into my consciousness.
All I want is to feel pretty.
And then there is 'FAT'.
On a day when I 'feel' fat, I feel repulsive, disgusting, a freak, undisciplined, unloveable, a heifer, an object of ridicule, shame-ridden, guilt-ridden, gluttonous, less than human, deserving of judgement.
Being fat (even if it is only through my eyes and no one else's) means I have sacrificed the right to dignity, to pride, to loving myself or not being subjected to other people's opinions of Who I Am. Because I have let myself become Fat, and in so doing have given strangers permission to harass, ridicule and mock me, to make of me a freak show, a scapegoat, putty to be molded into any shape and size they want so long as they do not humanize me.
I have done all of these things to myself.
Because I believe I'm fat, I am a pig.
Because I believe I'm fat I don't have feelings.
Because I believe I'm fat I don't matter.
Because I believe I am fat, I live in hell.
See how this word, 'fat', has wormed its way into my consciousness.
All I want is to feel pretty.
Moreover, I am driven to be pretty, to make myself pretty; to shoehorn myself into 'slim', 'attractive', 'stylish', 'smooth', 'plucked', 'trim' and 'toned'. Not because I want to be an athlete, strong and feminine, awake to the power of my physicality. Not because I have authentically chosen this for myself.
No. Just because I believe that I need to be slim and pretty in order to think that I am allowed to feel good about myself.
I have chosen this, for many, many years.
I have let my mind run riot.
And now I am asking the question: SAYS WHO?
What if, by gathering with other women, we could change things?
What if we could change how we feel about ourselves?
What if we could find freedom?
What if, by gathering with real women, by sharing the scars that run so deep beneath the surface that they seem to have gouged away part of our sense of wholeness, we could realize that in truth, nothing has been lost, merely covered over?
What if we could un-cover (rather than re-cover) the sacred feminine presence that dwells within us?
True, it dwells so deep, in the realm of the inner child.
But stop for a moment and really consider this: What If?
This, my friends, is the purpose of the space I hold.
This is the reason we gather. We share stories. We reflect. We get quiet, and we speak, letting our voices cut through the barrage of cultural messages until they resonate clear and strong, until we can hear ourselves truly thinking our own thoughts, declaring what is true in the absence of all fear, declaring what is true when there is only love.
We gather so that we have the strength not to succumb to the thoughts we automatically think when we see the latest make-up campaign (I am ugly and therefore all of the above). We gather to touch our own sorrow, to stand in the centre of the fire, face ourselves and face what we do to ourselves and say, 'ENOUGH. No more. I will not crucify myself like this any more.'
And it is gentle, this process. It is just one step at a time.
There is no pressure.
There is nothing to prove here.
No demands are made upon you.
You just come, and be as you are, and allow yourself to breathe, and listen, and observe, and feel.
You share if you want to share.
You say "no thank you" if you want to remain quiet.
And slowly, slowly, you and I and all the women in the circle remember that we are incredible, beautiful beings who have been given perhaps a few decades to simply shine our light.
It is time to get real about how we think and speak and feel about our bodies.
It's is time to let go of 'pretty'.
P.S. I am starting a mailing list. To be on it, please send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will add you to it.