I, of the beholder

Ever since I decided to start taking compliments at face value, I’ve been humbled by the sheer volume of times people have stopped to tell me, unsolicited, that I am beautiful, or gorgeous, or striking, or lovely..or whatever else. People have mostly remarked on my winning personality (ha!) but some (like seriously, more than a handful in less than a week!) have specifically remarked on my physical appearance…positively. Has this been happening all along? This many people? This many times? Even if beauty is only in the eye of the beholder, if there are enough people out there who are saying nice things about me, I must not be as hideous a monster as the voices in my head would have me believe. Right? It is only really hitting me now: this has always been the case, hasn’t it?

This has always been the case.

Wow.

I don’t know if the molecules of my skin are actually moving around and shifting. Does a self- kind heart have the ability to morph your physical appearance?  Maybe it is all in my mind. But…I actually do look different, don’t I? When I’ve  looked at myself in the mirror the past few days, there isn’t a scared girl staring back at me through sad, weary eyes. There isn’t a shapeless, pale, masculine, hunched, drained loser. There is a beautiful woman there. A tall, curvaceous woman. With kind eyes, and a bright smile. With…something else, too. What is it? A spark? A fire? A strong, interminable conquering spirit?  All of the above?

Every time I catch my reflection, I have been making myself say something nice- even if (especially if) I don’t feel it. I know it sounds cheesy: looking in the mirror, repeating mantras that sometimes you, yourself, don’t even believe…but oh my gosh…can it be? Is it actually…working? My dad gave me a Christmas card several years ago, and in it he wrote “Life is always beautiful and so are you”. I keep it, nestled in a flap on the visor of my car. The other day, out of nowhere, it fell in my lap, wide-open. Like a sign from the universe. I have been repeating that to myself every time I look in the mirror. Every time I have an ugly or hard moment. Every time.

And sometimes, it’s almost as if I beat myself to the punch. Like there are multiple positive voices emerging from underneath the skin of the molting unkind ones.

Voice One: You’re so beautiful, Haley.

Voice Two: Hey! I was gonna say that.

Voice One: Beat you. Gotta speak up quicker next time.

Voice Two: You’re on, buddy.

sigh.

Can this all really be as simple as adjusting what you hear and what you say?

Last weekend, I visited home for a couple days. As much as I was eager to see my friends, family, and awesome (if I do say so myself) apartment, I was equally anxious to get on my scale. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve gone so long without a weigh-in. I got in to Fresno at about one in the morning. First thing I did was head to the bathroom, empty my bladder and step on the scale. I’ve lost four pounds since coming to LA. But really, no surprise there. I’ve been taking better care of myself. I’ve been physically active.

I didn’t let myself step on the scale the rest of the trip.  The weird part is, after I got over that one withdrawal-esque, compulsive “need” to weigh-in, I didn’t really even have a desire to get back on. How is a number of my body mass any reflection of what I have to offer the world? I must remember this when the urge strikes.

These seemingly minor changes are probably invisible to the naked, untrained eye. But I am really beginning to feel them in my body, my soul, my consciousness. It helps, too, that I started seeing a health practitioner who specializes in rolfing. I bet a lot of you haven’t heard of it, so I’ll explain. Rolfing is a holistic bodywork that uses manipulation of the body’s soft tissue to realign and balance the body’s myofascial structure, started originally by a biochemist named Ida Rolf.  The idea is that not only can it directly improve your posture and other general body habits, but it can also bring long-term relief for all-over aches, pains, and tenderness, as well as improve breathing and increase energy.  For those of you who are familiar with the Alexander Technique, it is very similar in approach and theory- only much more hands on. It doesn’t exactly feel good, nor is it necessarily painful, but I do feel like I am standing taller and walking straighter. I know that this, too, must contribute to the positive, evolving reflection I’m seeing in the mirror, because my bad posture has long been a top issue of self-loathing. As far as rolfing goes, I’m not gonna lie; it ain’t cheap. But I decided a while ago, that when it comes to my health and well-being, it’s worth it.

After hearing me list all my health issues, my healer told me that she thinks my symptoms are all tell-tale signs of a gluten allergy. I’ve wondered this before and just sort of hoped it was not the case. When I went to the allergist, they found I was allergic to so many plants,animals, and indoor allergens, they remarked that my food allergies seemed relatively minor in comparison. I think at the time, I just sort of hoped that was my get-out-of-jail-free card. But I think it may be time to at least give my body a few weeks of strict non-gluten eating, just to be sure. I have only a few weeks without my favorite carbs to lose, and everything to gain. Again, when it comes to my health and well-being, it’s worth it to try.

I hesitate, as always, with any dietary restrictions. Not only do I worry about hyper-vigilance, but if I want to keep up my vegetarian lifestyle, adding gluten-free goals to the mix sure isn’t gonna make my life any easier. But as my healer said (she has a gluten allergy herself), “It just got to the point where it was much more important for me to feel good than to eat what I wanted.”

Word.

I am so there.

I know the next couple weeks will probably be hard for me. I’m sort of diving in head first. I asked my friend Kristeina for advice (she deals with a gluten allergy herself), and she said the best way to do it is to just get rid of all the gluten you have in your house and go cold turkey for a few weeks. She said you should feel better by the end of the first two weeks, and (unfortunately) much worse if and when you do cheat. So, I’m just gonna start there. Two weeks. And we’ll see what happens. Of course, I’ll be checking in.

Hope everyone is having a glorious September. It is the best month of the year, you know? 🙂

My friend Gabi posted this on her Facebook page the other day. I love it.

3 responses to “I, of the beholder

  1. Carissa

    I am always so struck by the bravery that you have to write so openly about what you are batteling right now. Every single time I read one I recognize similar behaviors in my own life and often take comfort in knowing I am not the only one. Thank you for doing this, not only for yourself but for your friends reading along with you!! Love to you all the way from Seattle!!

  2. Geanie

    I’m sorry we weren’t able to connect when you were in town. I’m glad that LA is good for you.
    Maybe with the new you and fresh set of eyes, it could be a healthy place for you to be?

    Talk soon.

  3. Tina Botill

    Wow. You are so freaking awesome! I love you. You actually help me too. Thank you Haley for being you. And your dad is right 🙂

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