I woke up to a text from a dear soul and had to reread it to be sure it wasn’t an old message I had sent. It read:
“I’m terrified of pregnancy changing the body I’ve fought tooth and nail to accept.”
Ah, yes. It took me back to sitting in my office in 2018 to a moment when I realized that when I got pregnant as I had hoped to, my body would change. I knew it was important to have that conversation with myself about what that would mean. I had to look at the things that helped keep me in recovery- movement that honored, a kinder relationship with my self-talk and viewing my body as an ally instead of an enemy. “Ok, Holli. Be intentional about continuing to do those things and begin working with a truth you’re going to experience: bodies are supposed to change.”
If I’m being very honest, and as of late I don’t really know how to being anything but honest… I did NOT like that idea. Yes, my body will change. My hair will lose it’s pigment, my skin will lose elasticity, my bones will change density… but that’s a long ways away. Right?
I worked for a few years in an addiction treatment facility where the 12 steps were heavily used. It was there that I realized what recovery REALLY was: acceptance and surrender, every single day.
Acceptance, and radical acceptance was hard for me. I was under the guise that if I accepted something it meant I was happy about it. If we are talking about radical acceptance, we do not have to be happy about it. It means we acknowledge what the truth is and no longer fight to change. It also means that when I am noticing these things that are distressing I’m not going to engage in any behaviors that keep me stuck in a rigid cycle. (Hello, body hating, cruelty and movement for punishment.)
From there, I began talking to my body, specially my stomach which I named my baby cave. I invited it to be a part of the conversation about change. What did my body need in order to help my dream come true of being a mommy? Movement that honored. Looking at my body as a partner in this process. And kindness galore.
When I did get pregnant, my body began to change nearly immediately. I began to understand that sometimes movement that honored would actually be rest. And kind self-talk about sound more like “Today is a hard, tough day. That is okay. What is it that we need?” I learned a whole new way of matching my choices with my energy. My body certainly changed in all of the ways! My size changed, my hips spread, my stride turned into a waddle and I became a person who was growing a tiny miracle in my body. I began to find myself offering such gratitude for my body for all the things it was doing for me and my unborn miracle.
The terror subsided and I attribute that to the surrender and acceptance I practiced, and still practice, daily.
As I sit and look down fondly and dearly at the little love who is 16 months old, I am so grateful that my body changed. Without it changing, I wouldn’t have him.
I realized that my acceptance of myself, initially, was due to the conditions I had put on myself. I had to surrender to some of the rigid rules I had and release them. (Some of those continue to surface. And I have to continue to practice to let them go.) As hard as it was to accept myself as I was, that’s where the love and respect for my body came in. And it became unconditional. Recovery is a verb, an active word. There are days that changes may overwhelm me, scare me and even anger me. I don’t have to like them, only accept that I’m feeling what I feel. I have learned to befriend my whole self. With intention that honors, kindness in word and partnership with my body, I get by with help from my friends. Namaste.
About the Author
Holli Ellis is a mom, a wife , a therapist, a recovered spirit and most importantly a human. She lives and loves with her husband, child and 3 fur babies. She gets energized by the sun, outdoors and water and can usually be found there most of the time. She finds laughter in dancing and watching The Office and enjoys resting in her cozy beanbag, probably drinking iced coffee.