I have been especially cruel to myself lately as I struggle to take off a few holiday pounds. As I get older, it gets harder and requires more work than it ever did before. Forty is fun, but my body won’t tolerate my old tricks (extreme dieting, for example), and the scale won’t budge unless I commit to sweating more — a lot more!
So I have been running like a whipped horse every morning, and following up my sessions with weights and yoga. Still, I have not seen much physical change, despite these efforts. I’m impatient, and I want my results on a platter. Now!
This journey requires exercise, but here’s the kicker — much of it is mental. Yup, that’s the toughest part. So I practice self-control, and I remind my inner critic to be kind to the woman in the mirror.
I wrote this poem today for myself and for anyone who may be wrestling with similar issues. Society makes it easy for us to feel unhappy in our own skin. Am I right?
Truce With My Skin
This is my skin? I ask the mirror as I gaze at the middle-aged woman I’ve become, whose cheeks have hollowed and eyes have sunk into dark shadows.
This is my skin! I curse as I wriggle into too-tight jeans, pinching the obstinate ripples of my flesh.
And then I marvel as I ruminate over old photographs — me as a mother, me as a runner, me as a friend and a lover.
This is my versatile skin.
This skin, like a suitcase, has carried the gift of my bones, the treasures of my years and the scars from my many missteps.
This is my resilient skin, life-beaten and bruised, assailed by the insults of men.
This is my weatherworn skin, bronzed by the sun, thrashed by the wind, kissed by cool drops of rain.
This is my soft skin, the haven where hurt children have nuzzled their tiny, tear-stained faces.
This is my enduring skin, rosy in my youth, blemished in my teen years, stretch-marked in adulthood, and soon to be wrinkling with age.
Who told me to hate you, my skin?
Who told me to hide you, to shame you, to wish you were something you are not?
If I must live with you, why shouldn’t I love you?