On Embodiment and Self Acceptance

I wrote last week about how I unexpectedly met Hozier again, which was terrific. I showed him the picture we took together in 2019, and we took another picture together this time. Looking at the two side-by-side, I’m struck by an emotion that is almost primal. I’m not sure I can explain this, but I know it’s important that I try to. So here I go.

Left: us in 2019. Right: us in 2023. The height difference hasn’t changed 🙂 but a lot of other things have

Looking at the picture on the left, I barely recognize that person as me. I don’t like her half-closed eyes, or her lack of makeup skills, or her oddly flat mouth. She doesn’t look all that feminine, and she doesn’t look like how I picture “Elena” in my head.

I can claim the face on the right as “my own” more easily. My eyes are straighter, my cheeks look stronger, and my lips have more shape. The most interesting part is that for all the intense therapy and healing I did in my early life, I haven’t done that much over the last four years. I had a speech therapist for a while, who was very helpful, and I’m told my lips gradually changed over the course of my relationship. 🙂 But even without much concerted effort or focus, my face has grown and evolved, almost without my noticing.

I wrote and published Embracing My Story on my birthday this past April, but even as I was posting it, it felt incomplete. I didn’t put a picture of my own face in the cover image, but I find it fascinating that I can have more recognition, compassion, and empathy for my 14-year-old self than my 20-year-old self. I can recognize a separate and younger version of myself from ten years ago, but I have more trouble with more recent memories. I’m not sure where the tension is, but I’m still exploring.

I wrote in this 2019 essay that “I can make my peace with the mirror and go about my life.” But being able to tolerate my reflection didn’t mean I truly appreciated it. I would see the face in the mirror more as a roommate I begrudingly lived with than as MY own reflection. It’s such an odd thing to try to explain, and I don’t know if other people have this same challenge – this estrangement from one’s own physical body.

This is the thing I was trying to explain in April but didn’t have the proper words for. This journey of self-acceptance and embodiment is ongoing, and I’m sure I’ll soon look back on this time from a higher perspective. But being able to articulate the lifelong tension of lack of ease in my own body is an important step. That’s all from me for now, but I will see you on the flip side.


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