An Accidental Epiphany: Mirror, Body and Self

You know the feeling when you have an epiphany moment all out of the blue? well that was me this morning.

Im aware the following image might put many of you off your tea, or breakfast or supper. So, you are warned.

But after weirdly having a bath last night, i was standing in the bathroom this morning, almost naked in front of the mirror. (yeah apologies)

And yes, i noticed that i was tanned quite nicely (its only 3 weeks since im back from tunisia) and, even with an all inclusive holiday, and some disciplined weight loss last year (3 stone) so, in a way, i have some realisation, that the very overweight pale me wasn’t what i was looking at in the mirror.

Despite the weight loss and tan i hadn’t stood and looked at myself deliberately.

I stood, looked, and thought, for the first time and said to myself: ‘I actually look ok’, and then i realised how good it felt to actually look and say to myself that i look ok.

It felt good to appreciate myself physically.

It felt good, and i sighed.

I sighed because i realised that i hadn’t done this before, and yet i did it this morning without realising it.

it was as it i hadn’t given myself permission to appreciate my own body, my own appearance, the way i looked.

As if i felt comfortable in my own skin, and appreciated it for the first time. Though in Tunisia i felt alive, with water, and being submerged in it almost all week, just fabulous. I still didn’t give myself the acknowledgement of appreciating my own skin, my own body, my own skin and bones that God has given me.

I wonder why i hadn’t done this before? had it even occured to me..

confidence? shame ? fear of ego? fear of being proud? fear of the flesh? Or just not wanting to give myself the attention that i could have done, rushing here, rushing there. all excuses ultimately. But shame, fear and unhealthy body image cripples us all doesn’t it. Diets, weight, discontentment, the lies of youthfulness and hiding reality and ageing. If only we, if only I, if only we could help ourselves by redeeming our bodies. By knowing from an early age that we have nothing to be ashamed of, nothing to hide, nothing to be embarrassed about, despite the lies. Messages of unworthiness surround, nakedness as a shameful thing, bodies that are secondary to minds, hearts and accomplishments. I might run the risk of not realising quite how unique i am in the mirror, or loving the reflection i find there, and try to make the rest of life about satisfying a body im not respecting.

Yet, we dont, the being better, younger, fitter, smaller, thinner, pull takes over. The lies make us ignore who we are, and force us not to stop in the mirror and tell ourselves that we are already beautiful. We can feel good about ourselves… as we are.. and… so can I. 41 years into life itself, I acknowledged feeling, and acknowledged being content with who i am physically, and muttered it out loud. And it felt good. It was good. Maybe its a freeing thing.

I wonder if for me, the extensive internal work, therapy, self awareness and this process has also had an effect on how i feel about myself physically. If digging deep into the who i am, the interal may, may also have a knock on effect on how i feel about myself in my own physical skin. It might be crude to say that I have fallen in love with myself, but, actually to love ourselves is important, to healthily respect ourselves means we have contentment, a virtue that a material and commercial world would do its best to help us to not have. To be able to breathe and connect with ourselves might need us to feel good internally and have internally positive feelings about our external. Maybe it’s less about self awareness and more about resisting the lies that tell us differently about ourselves. I only hope this might be an encouragement to feel good about ourselves.

But if in giving myself the space – or more to the point – having life circumstances where my only choice, was to focus on the internal me, and be confident and aware of how i think, who i am, how i am, and my energy, passions, dreams, and becoming in tune with my emotions in a way that is fabulous, then maybe all of that leads me to stand in the mirror and go. James, you look good. And to feel good about what i saw. To feel good about myself. To like what i saw in the mirror. To almost feel at peace, to almost feel embodied.

It was an accidental epiphany. But a significant one.

I hope it doesnt put you off your tea. But i hope that you can get to a point where you can look at your own body and for your own sake do the same. It might make your life so much more fulfilling.

As John Duns Scotus said, calling it the harmony of goodness;

‘true love for the self always overflows into love for the other; it is one and the same flow. And your freedom to extend love to others always gives you a sense of dignity and power of your own self. It is such a paradox’ (taken from Richard Rohr, The Divine Dance, p103)

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