Mirror Image

I’ve been going to physical therapy for a while now for my left elbow.  It’s being a pain.  Literally.

First, I thought it was tendinitis, because it felt similar to something I had in my left knee during the summer.  Only, in my elbow.  It turns out it’s actually tennis elbow and it’s taking longer to heal than tendinitis would.  Of course, it’s taking a lot longer to heal because I’m semi-non-compliant.  (Is that like being a little pregnant?)

At physical therapy, there is one exercise I do in front of a mirror.  It’s twisting an eight pound dumbbell up and down for about five minutes.  I have to watch myself in the mirror to make sure I’m keeping my form correct, using the correct muscles and and all that.

When I was first told to watch myself in the mirror, I immediately had the “oh no, not the mirror” thought.  I’d spent my life avoiding the mirror at all costs.  I would look in the mirror to apply makeup or fix my hair, but it was looking at a specific part of me (my eye or cheek or the top of my head) and not looking at me.  I would look at me only long enough to make sure nothing was hanging out where it shouldn’t (like my shirt was tucked in my pants) or that the green jacket did actually go along with the purple pants (it was the 80’s, I looked MAHvelous! or at least my clothes did).   But I never looked at me.

Even now, years after I’ve stopped wearing makeup (for the most part), and accept myself and my shape more, I still tend to not look in the mirror.  It’s a habit, and habits are hard to break.

For the last six weeks, two times a week, I’ve been forced to look in a mirror at me.  Yes, to make sure I’ve got the form correct for the exercise, but still, looking at me, in all my large glory.  After the initial “oh crap” moment, I realized that it’s good to look in the mirror.  To celebrate myself, my body, my shape.  To see how things are changing (I’m definitely more a pear shape now, where I used to be an apple), and how they are staying the same.   To look at and accept myself.

I’m still very frustrated that I can’t do hardly anything.  I want to make lace and jewelry and soap.  I want to cook dinners instead of having to eat out all the time (Conall is definately not a cook, it’s a good thing I’m good at it and like it or we’d never be able to eat a home cooked dinner).  I want to make pumkin and mincemeat pies (we didn’t have enough over the holidays).  I want to brush the dog.  I don’t want to keep my arm in a sling like a good patient and use the TENS unit five times a day.

But looking in the mirror?  Isn’t a big deal anymore.  I’m pretty happy about that.


3 Responses

  1. That’s progress 🙂

  2. i’ve lost weight. i had fewer issues looking at myself *before* i lost weight, honestly. clothed is better, but DANG i loathe the mirror in the master bath. cause i can see myself down to my knees, you know?

    and the lose skin that isnt gonna go away is there. *sighs* as long as he thinks i’m adorable, i’m not gonna fuss too much. but its *there*.

  3. Yet another neat evocation of a near-universal feeling experienced by the overweight, Ms Blogger!

    I’m male and 61 and have been 50 to 100 lbs. overweight since adulthood, except for a total of about 12 years when I was dieting. I’m also only 5′ 5″ tall.

    Being of a depressive turn of mind, I can’t now seem to bring myself to accept the fact that there has NEVER been a time in my life when I got to experience being proud of my body.

    Why is that so insurmountable a fact now–when no-one expects me to look good? Because for each stage of life there are characteristic pleasures, and youth is the time for having a good body and showing it off a bit.

    Not for me. I was fat then. And so that particular pleasure of youth will never, ever come again for me. It is already lost in eternity–as lost as I soon will be.

    Some version of this awareness of irredeemable past loss is probably one of the greatest pains of aging for everyone.

    That doesn’t make my particular regret any less painful.

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