On Body Image and Radical Self Love

A Lot Can Happen In A Year.

You know how people use social media to do birthday tributes to their friends and family? Well today I’m doing my own birthday tribute. Because if there’s anything I’ve learned in the last year – it is that it is always a good time to shower yourself with radical self-love.

So much has changed since my last birthday. My mom died, abrupting stopping my life and identity as her caregiver. My husband want back to work after a sabbatical. I got a new job. We have TWO porch swings and I started drinking half-caf coffee.

But all of those things are the practical changes in the last 12 months. What interests me way more are the spiritual and/or emotional changes. Those are the changes that I had control over. Many of those changes are parts of a bigger multi-year journey of radical self love, but some were triggered by the effects of the pandemic and grief from the last year.

And today they all lead to a 46-year old Kim who is very different from the one that turned 45 a year ago.

I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been and yet I’m wearing sports bras when I’m hiking and I’m not even flinching about it. I’m freeing myself of weird misogynistic programming so that I’m no longer feeling guilty when my husband does housework and I’m no longer stressing out about what people think about my house. I’m trying to convince myself that I don’t need to log all of my mistakes into my long term memory. I don’t do that for my friends, why should I do that to myself? Even this week I had another lesson in learning to embracing myself as a messy human and to love the connections it brings me.

This year brought me deeper into my journey of self love which I was able to do because I had already spent a few years on destroying my toxic relationship to diet/fitness and dismantling the foundation built by industries that profit off my self-hatred. It was time to build a new foundation and I found one…in the form of radical self love. I didn’t know that’s the foundation I needed until I discovered Sonya Renee Taylor on a hike in the woods and her book gave me the framework to reconstruct a foundation built in love…not because I’ve done anything to deserve it. But because I AM WORTHY.

It’s funny…during my years trying to find religion I spent a lot of times in rooms where people told us that because we were sinners we were not actually worthy of eternal salvation, but because of the love of Jesus we could have it. But I look back now and I am constantly offering love to the Kim in those rooms and I tell her now, as a secular humanist who subscribes to no religion: YOU ARE WORTHY OF THE LOVE YOU NEED. RIGHT NOW. AS YOU ARE.

(If there’s one thing therapy has taught me is it’s never too late to offer love to the past versions of yourself.)

I’ve learned to set boundaries this year, and to honor them. Because it turns out that you actually can’t truly love yourself if you are not setting boundaries in relationships that hurt you. I also learned there is a grieving process with this, just in case I wasn’t dealing with enough grief this year.

I feel like I’m framing this like: THIS WAS THE YEAR IT ALL CHANGED! And while a lot did change this year – FOR SURE – this is a journey that started in some capacity after my Dad died and I started going to therapy. And it started again in 2016 when I started questioning my relationship with health and fitness. And it started again in 2018 when I started taking care of my Mom. And it started again…

You get the point.

But because of the pandemic and because of losing my Mom and because of all of the things that branched off of those things, this year has been a big year of growth and change and so I can’t let my birthday slide by without offering a lot of love to myself. I am a messy human who deserves radical self love for simply existing in this body with this spirit every day. And I hope every year that comes after this one will bring me more liberation from toxic ideas of judgement and criticism and shower me with more blessings of gratitude and love.

3 thoughts on “A Lot Can Happen In A Year.”

  1. Happy birthday! I turned 46 in February and I’ve seen a lot of changes lately, too. I’m both more free and more settled, if that makes sense? Definitely much happier. I hope the year is good to you!

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