Tonight was the last Third Thursday of the year, in downtown Joplin, and my first time to attend in 2016. Four of us from the book club met and strolled together up and down Main Street, enjoying the cool weather and the many interesting sights and sounds.
It was the perfect end to a busy day, and a beautiful culmination for me, of a time of reflection…about my body and shame. There’s a reason tonight was my first visit this year to Third Thursday. This is a walking event, and I haven’t been able to walk well.
As I was free writing this morning, I realized I have carried shame about my body, and in particular, my left leg, for a long time. It is very common for women, especially, to feel shame toward their bodies. We perceive ourselves as too fat, too thin, too tall, too short. We don’t like so many things about ourselves, and when we don’t like how we look, we tend to dislike the way other women look as well.
After the car accident 21 years ago, I attached shame to my body for her failure to heal. I hurt. I walked differently. I limped. I struggled. And the struggle was real, and noticeable. I glanced behind me a few years ago, to see my little granddaughter lurching along the sidewalk. “What are you doing, Aubrey?” I asked. “Walking like you, Yaya” was her innocent reply.
And climbing stairs was painful on several levels. Watching me ascend has elicited many startled mutters of “You poor thing” from sympathetic family members and clients. I resented my messed up nerves and muscles. I was ashamed to be broken.
But something began to shift two years ago. I settled more into myself. I became more present with myself, more aware of my body, in a positive way. Those who followed the blog during my trip to Scotland in August 2014 may remember that I strove to see the good and the powerful in my body, rather than the weak and defective. I looked for ways to express gratitude for the incredible way my body supported me and sheltered my soul. I praised my left leg continually, calling her Darling affectionately.
I believe that shift set me on a path that has led me to this healing journey. As I accepted myself more and more, I deepened the connection to my body, and lessened the shame. When my Darling left leg failed further late last year, and the Sweetheart right leg seemed destined to follow this year, rather than giving up, rather than shaming myself, I looked deep within for an answer. And I listened. That desire to heal, that listening to the still small voice, sparked Divine intervention and guidance, leading me to Anthony William, and a different way of eating. It has also raised my awareness of what my body now needs to be its healthiest best.
Tonight, I walked along Main from 3rd Street to 7th and back to 2nd, before returning with my group to our starting point another block away. It wasn’t a huge distance. Yet, six months ago, at the first Third Thursday, I couldn’t have walked even half that distance without great pain.
This evening I walked…easily, comfortably…without pain, without a cane and without a limp. And most gratefully, I walked without shame.