by j.m, 21 years old
Men’s Health Week inspired me to share about the love I have for my body and what this love has brought me. I never represented the typical ‘tough’-guy image, although I tried and failed, but what I feel in and about my body now, I can feel within everyone.
When I turned 14, I got some really ugly pimples and I wasn’t really aware of how bad they were, until I was at the hairdressers and saw that my neck was pretty much covered with pimples. I started to be really ashamed about them and didn’t even get changed in the dressing rooms, always keeping my T-shirt on, so no one could see them. At the beach, I also pretty much always kept my shirt on and when I went swimming, I wore a swim-shirt even at places where no one knew me and would never see me again. This pretty much reflects how I was living throughout my teenage years – hiding from the world, withdrawing, and blaming my body for not being good enough, and ultimately feeling very guarded about myself.
What I became more and more aware of and know now, is that these pimples were a way my body was clearing itself from all of the hurts and rejections I was carrying around and holding onto. These weren’t necessarily rejections from others but rather situations where I rejected myself. And by the amount of pimples I had, it was a lot. My body was pretty much communicating to me that I was holding back who I am. But I rejected this communication. One example would be how often I popped pimples which then just showed up again, refusing the healing my body was offering.
I blamed my pimples and my body in general for why I didn’t feel so great or why I wasn’t confident; but in truth, leading up to the point where I had pimples, I also wasn’t living a life in which I felt well or confident. Shortly before my pimples got really bad, I had started to watch porn and withdraw more and more from life, spending most of the weekend in front of the PlayStation. And as if this wasn’t enough, I was also playing tennis to such an extent that it caused injuries, especially back pain, which were so bad that I couldn’t walk for a week, because my hips were out of position. During all of this, I wasn’t listening to what my body was communicating to me.
Slowly but surely my life changed a lot when I started to take care of myself.
When I was 19, I listened to my body and stopped drinking alcohol because it clearly wasn’t welcomed by my body anymore (if it ever was). The decision to stop was really crucial as I clearly felt the communication, and now looking back can appreciate how amazing it was to feel the power of claiming that decision and listening to my body and stepping up the self-love for myself.
As the years went on, I started to change my diet, stopped using PlayStation as a way to withdraw (and then completely stopped playing it). I also stopped playing tennis and started to exercise in a way that supported my body. As my relationship with myself and my body deepened, I became more aware of things like an unsettlement in my legs and whole body when playing PlayStation which I thought would be relaxing but clearly it wasn’t.
Allowing myself to feel and become aware of my body’s signals was only possible through a lot of help and support I received from others but most importantly, the willingness to open up to the world and to who I am, while my body always guided me through it.
Now, even though I’ve got scars on my body (quite literally), my body feels amazing, from responding to what it was communicating through my decisions based on loving me more. I still have pimples, mostly scars, and my body is also still stiff from all the tennis I’ve played, but it’s not guarded and doesn’t feel heavy or in pain anymore. Instead, it has become super tender, warm and delicate and I’m letting go of the many expectations I previously had on myself and my body, wanting it to be different. These changes happened in only a short amount of time after responding to my body and opening up as well as letting people in. It shows how my body clearly communicates with me how I am living my life and the decisions that I make. Instead of being in self-pity and not liking myself or my body I’ve come to deeply appreciate it.