It's been nine months and I'm still peeling back the layers of body image and deep past hurt that rose up at Body Image Bootcamp Facilitator Certification. Healthy Body Image, a healthy relationship with self and body, really is a journey and not some magical destination you reach where it's all love and happiness and "positive vibes only".
Frankly, that's just unrealistic.
I've always had a difficult time feeling connected to other people, and over time I've had a difficult time feeling connected to myself. Early on, I worked really hard to figure out 'what I wanted to do with my life' and 'what I wanted to be when I grew up', and for a while I was happy with that.
Fast forward and the last several years (read: increasingly since moving to the US) and I've just felt 'off'. Not myself. I've felt more and more of myself getting caged by fear and grief and codependency and a deep well of loneliness that was building.
I filled my time with working, with distractions, with half-tried hobbies all in an attempt to ignore and downplay how I was really feeling and how much I was avoiding.
I had signed up for BIBC pre-pandemic and frankly wanted to take it so I could integrate it into my photography work. Yes, I knew there would be some personal work involved, but after two rounds of different versions of BIBC I thought I knew what I was in for. But the world being what it was, the retreat was delayed by a year. And that's probably a good thing. Doing this in person is so different than any online version or reading books.
I arrived late, my flight delayed and cancelled and when I did get to Mexico, the others in the house had an entire day to connect and talk and get the bonding process started. Once again, I felt like an outsider in yet another space. It's nothing anyone did or said, that was entirely my own insecurities.
When it came time to photograph each other (if we wanted) everyone grabbed cameras and changed into outfits they brought (I brought next to nothing because next to nothing fits me). The excitement at making art with new people in a new space and to push some edges and be seen was palpable.
And nobody wanted to photograph me.
At least, nobody asked to. I projected that nobody wanted to because of that. And while everyone was shooting up front and center, I was in the background, getting a few shots between others and being the observer, as was my way.
It was a comfortable place to be, in the background, but for the first time in maybe my entire life
I wanted to be seen, and I wanted to feel connected to these beautiful humans who share a desire to be comfortable in their skin and a passion for creating. I wanted to feel that I belonged somewhere.
And I didn't feel like I did. Again. I quietly slipped away unnoticed and stripped down to nothing, wading in to the pool alone. I swam out to the edge and let my tears flow. Great big ugly tears of loneliness that went so far beyond this single experience. I'd been lonely in one way or another for my entire life.