Tonight I am celebrating embracing vulnerability, which managed to show up several ways throughout the day. It began with my 13-year-old mistakingly getting dressed wearing my jeans. As she realized that they were a size too big, but not unwearable, she begged me to borrow them for the day. Normally I let my girls borrow my clothes whenever they want, but I found myself telling her a very quick “No!” When she asked why, I instantaneously answered in full honesty, “Because I only have a few pairs that fit me right now!” Eeek! Did I just say that? Did I just admit I those were my fat jeans?!?
I could see the look of her concern in her eyes. “Are you ok, Mom? What’s going on.” I had just walked into the very discussion I had been trying to avoid with both of my daughters; the “I’ve gained 20 plus pounds and those are one of two pairs of fat jeans that I own. Oh and I’m struggling with my overweight body” conversation.
I was so terrified of sharing my own body image issues out of fear they too would take this burden on. I thought I was somehow be protecting my girls. But guess what, not only do they both have body image issues, they both suffer from emotional eating. Go figure!
The recognition of a pattern that started with my own mother caused me to launch into a seriously vulnerable moment. To this day, I still harbor some resentment toward my mother for hiding various truths from me. I felt that I would have benefited from her knowledge over the years, but instead I inherited shame.
It was right in that moment that I knew I had to break the pattern and be vulnerable for the sake of my daughter and for me. Hiding my Truth from her was in no way shape or form protecting her from the struggles almost all women have. If anything, it may have made her feel more alone and therefore worse.
On our way to school, I shared with her that I had gained weight and that I was mostly frustrated with how my body felt. I told her that I too have to work on body acceptance, and we shared our sadness of the fact that there was absolutely no chocolate in the house.
I mostly emphasized that as an adult, it isn’t uncommon to have weight fluctuation, and I knew that I wasn’t supporting my body with a healthy diet or enough exercise this winter. We talked about our most challenging emotional eating moments and started to brainstorm ways to support each other.
I feel horrible for passing emotional eating onto my daughter, but at least now, I can be vulnerable with her and share that I am nowhere near perfect, and I also struggle at times. It’s a delicate balance when dealing with body image, but lying just doesn’t cut it. Kids always seem to pick up on any major issues whether they are discussed or not.
The second and third place that vulnerability made an appearance today was in my painting and drawing classes. Both classes consisted of critiques of our last few assignments, and let me tell you, there is nothing more terrifying then displaying your art for open discussion. There is something so raw and exposed about this whole process.
However, I am extremely proud of myself for putting it all out on display, especially in my figure painting class, where we work from live models. In one of my paintings, I had screwed-up the legs and didn’t have the model to work from to complete the painting. So, I turned her into a mermaid. I flat out told the class what had happened, and was commended for my imagination as well as figuring out a perfectly logical solution.
My teacher explained that she would rather us add something in than leave the painting in a place that we were unhappy with. It felt authentic to share my process with the class. Perhaps it would help someone else in the future. Either way, I am glad that I mentioned it rather than smugly pretending that it was my creative intention all along. It was my Truth.
I used to think being vulnerable was telling truths about yourself in the form of stories from the past. This may be part of the picture, however, I am quickly learning that true vulnerability stems from living authentically and in your complete and total Truth, and then stepping out and owning it. It is not easy, but I have to say, it feels damn good. And that is something I am truly proud to model for my daughters.