I’ve started doing a daily reflection, using a Sacred Space Advent book and Pray to Go podcasts both of which are Jesuit resources I think. These have been helping me enormously. In fact it is hard to express how much so. Taking that time with my Advent candle lit to hang out with myself, reflect, feel whatever I’m feeling and bring that to God does amazing things to my contentment and peace despite the emotional rollercoaster called BPD. I’d go so far as to say it reduces the emotional rollercoaster. The reflections not only give me a greater understanding of my faith and beliefs in general, for example expression of faith through deeds not ‘conversion language’, seeing faith as individual- not to be judged and the solidarity I feel with people of all faiths particularly Muslims in this time of conflict. It also, gives me a greater understanding of me and how I’m feeling in what arises. They work so well partly because, I am using Jesuit resources and therefore the prayers are not the typical Dear God…please..sorry…thankyou…Amen but a different approach (for those of you in the-know Ignatian Spirituality.) They sometimes include music, almost always a bible passage and then you are just mindful- you imagine, and notice what strikes you if anything, all non-judgementally. You reflect on it, not separating your ‘human and sinful’ experiences from God but combine them because your life in itslf is a spiritual act and in so the everyday becomes the godly. Thus, you hear how God speaks to you through your thoughts and feelings, you hear what your thoughts and feelings are to begin with.
As a spiritual practice it’s hard to explain so I hope that made a reasonable amount of sense.
The reflection I used today was the Sacred Space resource for Sunday 6th December 2015. I noticed it was hard for me to concentrate on the bible passage and the reflection questions given because I was getting unsettled by the uncertainty I’m becoming aware of about what I believe when it comes to sex. I don’t know what I think about the morality of casual hook-ups, committed relationship sex, sex before marriage. It’s hardly surprising given how my beliefs have changed over the past year- all my values have been sort of reviewed through the processes of doing DBT and RCIA (the course you do to become a Catholic.) I can say i feel much more at peace with them and like I have ownership of my values and beliefs than before as these are ones that when I have questioned myself to the very core, rather than just believing what I’m told, I feel within wise mind (DBT concept) are right. However, ethics regarding sex have slipped through the net I suppose partly because it’s not something that is part of my everyday life at the moment and therefore it comes lower down the list of priorities. Having that uncertainty nags at me though.
There is more to this however. These thoughts badger me quite a lot. I go through periods where they’re in the back of my mind the whole time and frankly I’ve realised recently it’s not about the sex, I’m not that desperate! It’s about my body. Something I feel ashamed and anxious about talking sincerely about.
The reality is I’d like to have sex at the moment (despite my thoughts that it’s probably not a good idea due to how vulnerable I am currently, as well as not being in a committed relationship) because I just want that reassurance that someone who saw my body wouldn’t be disgusted and turn right around the other way. It’s almost nothing to do with the actual sex.
Why is it I look to sex to help my self esteem- because I don’t have any other situation where people see me even half naked. I barely ever even wear short sleeves. I’m covered up, clothed quite literally in shame. I see my body as a triple whammy of repulsiveness- I’m quite seriously overweight due to my meds, diet and not wanting to do exercise because of (you’ve got it) the shame. I have serious stretch marks covering my whole body because of putting on weight very quickly and I have 100s of very obvious self harm scars all over my arms and some on my legs. I don’t know anyone else who has all 3 of these, I’ve never seen a body that looks anything like mine currently does and that understandably leaves me feeling isolated and ashamed.
But here’s where my reflection comes in. One of my core beliefs is that every person is a child of God, precious in his eyes… Huh. So that includes me I guess? I am beautiful in the eyes of God. He sees my heart, my skin, my unshaven pubic hair, my belly, my thoughts and my feelings and thinks Wow how beautiful she is- I’m so glad I created her- she is in the process of transforming herself and this world. No amount of money, or jewels or gold could be worth her, she is priceless and I love her. How amazing.
I’m getting increasingly interested in this idea of body positivity. It promotes healthiness and self-compassion rather than weight and dieting, and self worth whatever your size, skin colour, age etc. (Blogger Grace Victory explains it here ) This is as well as the idea behind naturism (yes those people we all consider weird for wanting to be naked the whole time.) Now I am not a Naturist but the concept behind it is that the human body should be de-sexualised. A naked body is something we all have and need to be able to function and live- why do so many not live their lives to the full then because of it? Surely something that gives us life and unites every single one of us on earth should just be unconditionally accepted? No one goes ugh breathing I don’t like it, hide it away from children, put it away in case others don’t like it. Hate your own breathing. It’s very odd when you think about it.
My body is unusual. My shame however is only increasing because I’m not letting anyone else see it because of that. It’s a cycle and one that is actively decreasing my quality of life. My body is not innately sexual, unacceptable or even ugly. It is functional, unique and something I can work on along with my self esteem.
But I still hope your not disgusted by it.
P.S Why do I feel unable to say these things out loud? It’s all a learning process I suppose.