When I was younger, I wanted to be shorter, thinner, cuter and smaller. Secretly I thought I was fat. Inside, I felt like a whale. I thought if I looked differently, I would feel differently, and then I would be happier. This feels like the same old story… but the thing is, it’s still where the juice is. Twenty years later, the old, “if only”, refrain, as Geneen Roth puts it, is still rearing its deceitful head. Thankfully, though, some other stories are taking hold.
Today my chiropractor took the shoe off my left foot while I was lying face down on her table. She said, “Oh, are these the expensive clogs everyone says are so comfortable?” “I don’t know”, I mumbled into the cushions squeezing my face, “I got them at Martha’s Closet (our local consignment shop) and I liked the color. I guess they’re pretty comfortable.” I heard her walk across the room holding my red shoe.
My chiropractor wears $3,000 sweaters, and she noticed my shoes. I mentally scanned the rest of my outfit and realized that every other item of clothing I was wearing I had gotten for free, either from a friend or the “dumptique”, or from the black trash bags full of clothes left in front of the Red Cross bins.
Later in the day at the YMCA, wearing my same “free” attire and carrying a big old stained canvas bag full of my gym clothes, I pause to scan my membership card. As I walk past the beautiful, confident women at the front desk, I drop my keys on the floor. I have a tendency to drop things when I think unkind thoughts towards myself—in this case the offensive thought is something like, “wow, those women are so (much) cool(er than me).”
As I stand up, shaken out of the trance of unworthiness, I remember that today I get to be whoever I want. These women don’t know by looking at me that I don’t have enough money in my checking account to pay for next month’s gym membership. They don’t know that the $250 dollars I’ll deposit on Thursday when I get paid, is already committed to last month’s electric and cable bills. And they don’t know that my clothes and my expensive red shoes were all second hand.
I smile as I stand up a little straighter, and I hold my head higher as I walk towards the women’s locker room. If I could talk to little Lily now, my younger self, I’d share with her that happiness comes from being at peace and at ease in our bodies, just the way they are. It comes from the ability to tell a story that feels good, instead of one that makes us feel like crap. I have never in my life had less money and more debt than I do now, I’m the same size I was twenty years ago, and I have never been more often at peace, more often satisfied or content.