My throat traps the words that I want to say, but don’t. My mind fogs over to make cloudy the clarity that I had moments before.
I’m smaller, shrinking inside myself slowly, as a balloon deflates with the tiniest of holes.
I was punctured in this moment. And withdrew. Confusion swept my mind away from the stability of truth, into the murky waters of illusion. The voices questioning what I know. Questioning that yearning to reach out, speak, move, express, and open in the moment that triggered me.
The moment itself, trivial, and yet, so potent it could pull me out of my core and into the swell of fear and insecurity.
All from something I saw. Simply - An unflattering photo of myself.
What did the voices say?
They told me to question the beauty I knew to be true.
The beauty I felt myself live from, each and every day, and more and more these past few months of my life.
The beauty that I see when I look at my body and in the mirror. The soft swell of a body that’s loved, rested, strong, yet soft.
That delighted in learning that my natural state is more rounded and less hard in places that I once denied, rejected and scolded silently in distaste that I wasn’t fitting the picture-perfect standard that is often expressed as the hallmark of modern beauty.
My belly that’s finally sighed in relief as I stopped trying to force her to a texture of smooth and flatness that I used to yearn for, and once even did experience when I was stuck in a skeletal disorder.
My legs move proudly at feeling free to be their strong and sturdy selves, made from my love of moving, running, dancing and living.
My face that smiles at itself now in finally seeing the lips of wisdom, the cheeks of innocence and the eyes of expression, rounded together in the magic of being bred from my ancestors before me.
And in this moment, those deep-seated truths are forgotten as a single picture brings back the memories of self-oppression, the patterned thoughts that drove me to unhealthy ‘clean’ eating, picking apart my features, checking my shape daily, exercising a little more than my passion naturally leads me to, and fitting into that box of beauty I assumed was expected of me.
What did this do when I forgot these truths in this moment? I became small, overwhelmed with confused thought, and I felt my body droop. I only recognise now that my body was saddened.
She was no longer being seen, heard and felt as her divine self.
She was sad that in this moment of reacting from the shadow of my past, I believed these thoughts, and put a shade over my own eyes, so I could no longer see my own beauty. I could no longer feel my vibrancy, sexiness, and grace. This home that I had cultivated in claiming my feminine surrender to the flow of life and nature of my true essence, I had departed from.
And I didn’t just enter the insecurity, I dwelled there. For some time, sitting in the low vibration that comes with moving away from my truth, and into illusion. I was stuck.
My partner was there. Witnessing. Holding my emotions with confused understanding. With exasperated patience. At seeing me shrink, I felt his body sadden, just as my own body felt saddened for once again being rejected.
I expressed from the murky state those questions that came from illusion, that sought a satisfactory answer that could never come. What was most resonant was the thought that maybe I’m not actually as beautiful as I thought I was.
From seeing this picture, maybe actually the beauty I saw and lived from ‘was a lie.’ Because this picture made me react in such a way, maybe everyone else has that reaction too, and the person I see in the mirror and feel in my life… maybe she’s not as beautiful as I thought… how could that be?
This illusion brought me to question my own truth, as I disempowered this truth to attempt to fit once again into the box that I thought I needed to.
‘Does he see me the way I saw myself in this picture?’ I thought - ‘imperfect and rounder in places that aren’t how he may expect.’
‘Or am I seen how I was seeing myself, a goddess incarnate, dancing though life with an ease of pleasure in just being herself?’
‘Am I kidding myself walking through life in the grace I felt about my own beauty, when I should really be listening to that shame to direct me back to changing my body?’
Yes, these questions came in.
So too, did something else.
A knowing that could sense this mis-alignment within. A knowing that could sense that I was shrinking, asking silly questions, disempowering myself through judgment and seeking approval from a standard that was not my essence. A knowing that no matter how much I were to ever try, there would be no way that my true beauty could fit ANY BOX.
It is boundless. It is shapeless. It is without form completely.
It is not what I see in an unflattering photo or even in the pretty face staring back at me in the mirror.
After some time, I let her enter me again. I breathed with her, and I witnessed her slowly uncoil from her hiding place, as she began to take her rightful place in my consciousness, slowly melting the illusory past-patterning like honey on a hot day. She felt safe to come home.
Some words expressed by my partner helped her make her way back. She felt encouraged by hearing his truths as a reflection of her own. Not by seeking the approval that I’m ‘perfect’, but through the remembrance that my beauty is my essence. And as this essence once again filled me to touch my cells and spread through my being, I came home.
How did I return? Awareness of what was happening, even as it was happening. It doesn’t mean that I wasn’t still stuck, even in my awareness, but it did give me clarity enough to question that questioning. To notice how my body felt, and to recognise how being out of alignment really feels.
When we live more and more in this aligned and pure place, from presence and truth of who we are, then we have this anchor to come home to.
So from retraction, I felt my essence expand yet again. Part of allowing myself to open was also to stay open to the fact that I got lost. To the fact that I let this trivial thing overwhelm me and question myself.
Because that is part of my beauty. To tenderly hold myself in these moments of conditioned pain, and to allow the process to unfold, trusting that I have the capacity to come home. It’s a deep trust that each time I go away, and come back again, I am cultivating this capacity. I am patterning truth, rather than feeding illusion. And I accept that part of my human condition, experience, past, and personality, is that sometimes, I may get lost.
So I accepted that it was happening, I allowed my awareness to filter in to question the illusion, I then felt that integration back into myself. I released the retraction through allowing the feeling to flow, and dissolve. And I connected back to my home.
My partner told me that since he met me, my body reminded him of one of the most adored paintings of a woman’s beauty in history. Botticelli’s ‘Birth of Venus’. And I admit, when he first said this and showed me the picture while I was still in retraction, it was hard for me to see. She isn’t the modern standard of poster-girl beauty.
AND - she is magic. When I was able to see through clear eyes again, and witness her, I felt the essence that made me understand her beauty, and my own.
Before we slept, I posed in the same way, naked and raw, in front of him, as I delighted in the freedom that my body was once again experiencing.
When I woke up, I saw myself again from truth.
I saw goddess.
I saw Venus’s beauty, birthed.
I saw grace, health, ease, pleasure, softness, strength, flow and magic.
Most of all, I recognised what I was really seeing...
I was seeing what was inside.
THAT is my beauty, that no box can hold, and that no picture could ever capture.