Over the last couple of years I have been asking myself "what would it mean to choose brave?" in many different circumstances - in smallness, exhaustion, anger, when I'm comfortable and when I'm waiting to name a few and esterday I found an unexpected place to choose brave - in the dressing room at Goodwill.
I have been meaning to go out and get new jeans for awhile, my current pair was wearing out, but it's not something I look forward to. I know it'll take forever and it'll be frustrating and expensive. Finally the little hole in the knee of my last pair of "good jeans" was noticeable and I couldn't take it any more. I told the hubs I'd be back eventually and headed out by myself for the nearest Goodwill. I spent awhile sorting through the crowded messy racks getting a range of sizes and headed to the dressing room.
When I was a teenager I was a ballet dancer. There was a time when I could fit into a size four. That was a long time ago though. I am 33 and have given birth to six children, one of which only about a year and a half ago. I'm a long ways from a size four now. And most of the time I can accept that. I have decided that the most important thing for me right now is to be able to nurse my baby and if this is the body I need to have in order to do that well then I'm okay with that. But I tend to have no idea what size I actually am. I don't know - not a size four anymore, not a fourteen. Something in between.
I don't typically dress in front of a full-length mirror and I don't try to stuff myself into pants that are too small so trying on jeans in front of that mirror made me catch my breath. Yeah so not a size four anymore - but this is when I get to choose brave. I get to be gentle with myself. I got to half laugh at myself and say "well, those don't fit!" and keep reaching for the next pair. I didn't even try on a couple of pairs in the smaller sizes I'd picked up. They were half off but oh well, I'm not going to buy anything else hoping I'll fit into it some day. I'm done with that.
I would never berate a friend or one of my children for not fitting into any certain size, I'm done with the shaming self-talk. In the dressing room there is no should. There just is what is. I'm not going to loose weight by feeling bad about my body - been there, tried that, it didn't do me any good. I'm not going to become a smaller size by wishing I was a smaller size or telling myself I should be a smaller size. I would love it if a year from now, or six months from now, I found myself here again because these pants are too big. But I'm not. I am here now, in the body I have now dressing the body that I have now and not the body I wish I had or think I ought to have.
Sometime choosing brave means self-control and making a healthier choice. Sometimes choosing brave means being gentle and not pouring on shame. It means sending every single pair that doesn't feel comfortable into the reject pile because there is something spiritual about wearing a pants that fit and sometimes gaining five pounds grows your soul. And I am 100% done with shaming myself.
So here I sit in the most comfortable pair of green jeans (this is the first time I have ever bought colored jeans! Because I'm choosing to live out the truth that I am not 100% beige) They are a size bigger than the ones I've been wearing and I guess for right now this is my self-care. I am done trying to shove my muffin top into clothes that hurt me and I am done with shame in the dressing room.