Mental Body Image – Creatively Active Imagination

There is this thing called mental body image… how do I in my mind’s eye SEE myself?  There have been discussions and discussions about girls, ladies, women and their low self-esteem or poor self-image.  That this battle between how they look and how they value that image in their mind’s eye results in eating disorders, depression, cutting, suicide, and many other destructive outlets.  So many of us discourage negative talk about our own bodies, and attempt to reinforce a positive self-talk about our beauty and value. 

But as I embarked on this journey of weight loss I challenged myself to look at my real body image, and I discovered something rather interesting.  For me I have had the same view of myself for years and years and years. I have pictured myself on the inside completely different from I appear on the outside.  For me the mental image, I have seared in my mind’s eye hasn’t changed in almost 15 years or longer.  It does not change with my weight, the fashions, my hair style, or even my skin tone.  My mind has the same picture representing who I am year after year.  It’s almost like I have created an avatar in my mind about who I look like and who I am. 

My Mind's Eye View

I can even see this character engaging in conversations with groups of people when I am trying to anticipate how a situation will go.  This same image appears when I dream (on the rare occasions) and when I fantasize about my future life with God, goals, and a guy. 

The picture on my blog is an illustration by one of my favorite artists, Ron DiCianni.  If you are not sure if you have seen his work, please click here for a sampling of his work Google Images.  And some how that image of that woman just stuck with me.  I think there may be adaptations in my head, but she is fairly close to the avatar I think my mind has created. I do not see myself as glamorous, hot, model status, but more average in almost every way; maybe what my heart believes I look like without the weight.  Or possibly the woman I have always wanted to live up to in what my psyche sees as attractive, good, presentable, sweet, and desirable.  But the fascinating thing is how this image doesn’t change. 
 

Even though I look in the mirror every day and I get naked to try on clothes; the reality of me physically in real life does not impact the image in my head.  Which I believe is why I can be so confident at times.  That I can forget about how my looks do not measure up, and stand tall with my minds image firmly in place to take on the world.  It is definitely not intentional, and I do not always see the image when I am being bold or fighting my insecurities.  But I do know at times this internal representation of myself has made it easier for me to present who I am to the world with confidence.  It has brought me a way in which to battle the ever clamouring voice of insecurity stating how I am not pretty enough, attractive enough, or even acceptable enough to be some place because of my outside looks.  So is it any wonder that I like forgetting what I look like as soon as I walk away from the mirror? 

I wonder at times if this is the reason I have not cared to focus on losing weight?  If my avatar is healthy and energetic and positive and pretty and that is who I see myself as… is there any wonder why losing weight has not been a deep-seated priority?

It also brings to mind a deeper question that in itself makes me worry.  If it is so easy for me to accept this avatar as the image of myself and it is a distorted view of reality (or is a complete fantasy not based in reality) in my head; how do I know for certain that I am not generating more wrong interpretations of reality?  How can I be sure anything else I interpret in my mind is TRUE in reality and not just a fabrication of my all to creatively active imagination?

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Some Days a Dream is Just a Dream… Right?

I am not a dreamer. I don’t usually sit and retell the times when I had a dream about… My dreams are usually here for a flash, an instant, and glimpse into one scene, one picture, one feeling and then they are gone. I think I have had 6 dreams in my whole life that I remember the details (not that they made sense) and could retell them past the morning after. They have been incredibly strong their message to my soul and they carry over into my feelings even towards people in my real life. Even as I am pondering this, I know this is one dream, I really should write down. Because today while camping, I awoke with the most compelling dream I have had in a great great while.

What is it about dreams that you can never seem to remember the beginning? I am trying to grasp the beginning of my dream this morning and it is just not there, but the final scene is. I am walking through a small town market, like a Saturday market style place only smaller. I am walking with none other than Skeet Ulrich (yes I have seen my fair share of Jericho and the character they made him in that television show will forever be seared into my memory; but its been at least a year or so since my last sneak peek.) Regardless, it is him and we are a THING, walking hand in hand, laughing at things, basking in the sunshine, and absorbing what seems like magic in the air. When I pause for a moment and ask the all too important question I do in most of my dreams… How did I get here?

An Amazing View

It is in this moment, that I start to feel the sense of magic and fantasy as I look at the scenery behind me and realize I didn’t just show up here or walk there or arrive in a car, but I actually just appeared in this place-the town, the classroom, the market.  This whole place was a world set apart from the reality that I was from (that the dreaming me was from).   And as my dream-self was looking around past the tables and the trinkets of the market I began to see the scene unfold as if from Prince Caspian or Lord of the Rings and in this magical place my dream-self was not supposed to be there. I realize that I had done something… something I was not supposed to do.

I had made a wish. I had wished to be with him. My dream-self had been in that dreaded reality that was full of responsibilities, facts, jobs, work, pain, and loneliness.  And all I had wanted was to be in this amazing joyful carefree place with him again.  Living in that place where my laughs were heard by someone who cared ever so deeply for me and my heart.  I wanted to remove the feel of the real world and be amidst the magic and wonder that this other mysterious place always seemed to offer.  So I wished to be with him again, be where he was, feel his touch again, and feel the smile on my face as I look at him.  And in those simple thoughts and maybe even the smallest of whispers I wished it. And with that simplest of wants, smallest of wishes… I appeared there in that place. 

I began this walk in a classroom, wandering the rows of desks, being reminded of pleasant times teaching, with laughing children, and positive learning. I seemed to glide across the floor with each step, but not out-of-place from everyone else in this place.  I was not a foreigner here in this place, the people knew me, accepted me, and even welcomed my presence, unaware that I was NOT supposed to be there.  They did not know it was me that was wrong, but there was something wrong in this place.  And I knew as much as I desired to be here I was the one out-of-place.

To be continued…

Some Days its better NOT to think about it

So I have been struggling to blog for months and months.  It is mostly because the things that have been filling my mind have all been focused around a specific person.  And with every thought and every idea that seemed to enter my mind I couldn’t write it out here in the Public forum.  I had been so convinced in the past that I could handle being honest in any circumstances in any environment; but I was wrong.  I found that moment in time when I could not just write what I was feeling because I knew that a certain person out there wouldn’ t like it. 

There are so many things and so many stories I cannot even begin to catch up on the things that have happened. 

I’m angry… I am so completely angry that I have to explain myself.  That I have to sit here and allow these attacking thoughts to my self-esteem, character, integrity, and life with no defense.  Even now I can’t seem to type one sentence at a time.  The thoughts are muddy and cloudy and confusing.  Just as I grab on to one to put it on paper it escapes and runs for cover.  I enjoyed so much this medium of writing what I think and thinking what I write, but it is such a struggle now just to write to connecting thoughts. 

So I have an appointment with a new counselor at the End of July.  I am filling out the paperwork and trying to decide what do I want to talk about?  What do I want to focus on and work on?  It almost seems like because Ted (no not a real name) always talks about counseling and what my counselor will say and what I need to talk to my counselor about that I am already posturing myself to do battle with a woman I haven’t even met yet. 

There is a part of me that wants to defend my life, defend my experience, and defend my life philosophy about friends, community, and relationships.  I know there are things I haven’t figured out, I know there are things I need to learn, but this whole experience with Ted has really gotten me to question whether or not I am connected with reality or not.  Why is it like this?  Why am I confronted with this conflict internally all because someone said I am wrong.

Fast forward to today… And without further Adieu I am back.  The people in my life are important.  I need to be careful who I allow into my sphere of influence because Ted was just a continual conversation focused on every little detail of me that was wrong, imperfect, unloving, inappropriate, ungodly, and out of touch.  And that doesn’t matter.  That stuff is who I AM.  I need to make no apologies for the character and creation I have become.  I am only to BE the Woman that is living this life, trying to figure things out.  And yes there will be people who don’t get that, but that doesn’t matter.  They can NOT understand it all they want, it shouldn’t change who I am and who I am striving to become. 

Therefore, with new wisdom, support, resolve, and determination I return back to my process of old, my blogging of the thoughts that appear in my mind and on my heart.  Knowing and BELIEVING there is a community of friends out there who wants me and a man who will love and ACCEPT me… with all my flaws, fables, fantastical wishes, and fantastic ideas.

Psalms 45 – Just a Few Things

Months and months ago I wrote a series based on the list I had created years ago called What I look for.  This all started from a few of my friends saying I needed to make my list.  I needed to know in my mind, heart, and print what I was looking for in the man I wanted to partner with in this life.  I even found a section in one of my favorite books that provided a list of things that should be asked when determining if someone is a Person of Character.  I even put it on my blog as a separate page to remind myself from time to time.

Well just as I had completed that series a blast from my past arrived on my door step.  Well maybe not my door step but my Facebook page, and these days that might as well be your front door.  After a series of conversations, dates, non-dates, community dinners, friend introductions, and the like; we have decided that a relationship between the two of us would be a bad thing (we being me).  Bad meaning unhealthy, dysfunctional, co-dependent, draining, chaos causing, and frustrating (is there anything else that would make something bad?) But I am getting distracted from the real topic, which is that I think I found a few more things to add to my list.

This psalm is referred to as a wedding song, so what better way to identify those things I WANT in my future partner than here.  Now I promise not to rewrite the entire chapter, since I realize that would be redundant and most importantly impractical or improbable. But since I get to decide what I want, and what I will pray for and what I am hoping for out of this chapter, then that is what I am going to WRITE.  SO THERE.  I don’t sound a little defensive do I? But in all seriousness allow me a few moments to share a heart felt inspiration as a piece of scripture is inspiring me to draw a connection to my life in this season. 

My heart is stirred
     You are the most excellent of men and your lips have been anointed with grace, since God has blessed you forever.
          Gird your sword on your side, you mighty one; clothe yourself with splendor and majesty. 
               In your majesty ride forth in the cause of truth, humility and justice, let your right hand achieve awesome deeds. 
                    Your throne, O god, will last forever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom.
                         You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, 
                               has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.                          

With grand expectation and hopeful want, I desire a man who will have lips that use words laced with grace and not criticism.  That God’s heart for my well-being and growth would be communicated from him as gracious items of life and not destructive points leaving me bruised and wounded at the mere mention of the words.  Not that truth wouldn’t be spoken, but that he would know that fine art of speaking truth in love to me. 

Although I do not require my man to be a card-carrying member of the sword wielding guild, he must have the confidence that builds him to a place of being the mighty one in his life.  That he know who he is in God and that he knows where he is going.  He is confident in his mind and heart to carry the sword of the spirit and the shield of faith in this crazy world of church, friends, family, and work. (Kind of a compliment to my favorite artist’s picture on my blog.)

That his values run deeper than this is what my parents taught me.  That his life philosophy includes fighting for the cause of truth, humility, and justice.  The world may not be fair and there will be injustices that will be done in front of us and to us; but that does not negate the need to do life towards those goals.  Just as there is a balance between truth and grace there is a balance between confident mighty strength and honest genuine humility; and in these I want him to know the difference and strive to achieve this. 

In the deepest core of my soul lies the belief that it is important to be fair and just in my decisions and actions.  Even if this means someone gets a benefit over me.  So reading this scripture that speaks to the scepter of justice ruling over his kingdom, really resonates with what I believe to be one of my most important life decisions.  So he must also value truth and justice above all else.  (and the American way?)  Funny how certain things end up programmed in the back of one’s mind. 

Finally, the anointing you with the oil of joy, has become so important in my life I cannot imagine living in a partnership without it.  I did not move into adulthood a happy or joyful person.  Too much tragedy, complaining, and hurt had not allowed me to embrace those things.  But as healing, acceptance, friendship, and grace has found its way into my life I began to realize that joy is an important part of everyday.  It doesn’t always FEEL that way, and I may not always express it or live in it, but it is a choice at those times for me to still allow God’s joy to change my perspective and attitude.  So he must also have that same desire to look for the joy, seek out the good, and make the best of any given situation. 

After all, I am typing this in the midst of a rainy Oregon day while camping, in a tent, by herself; if a girl can find the good in that part, well then he is definitely SHOULD be able to as well.