• Bella Dean Joyner

Please Have Mercy

Has it really been almost a year since my last blog post? Wow. I suppose I let things fall to the wayside while I found myself.

It wasn't intentional. I suppose I just had to internalize my life before I could blow out all of the negativity, the disappointment, and the hinderances. I was so weighted down with baggage that never should have been placed on me by other's expectations and judgements. I unhealthily allowed it to mold my world into a place I was no longer comfortable living in. It formed the very opinion I had of myself. I was unable to accept even my own faults and stumblings. I barely even knew myself anymore. I looked in the mirror and only saw a stranger.

A huge journey towards my betterment of self has been my own perception of my physical appearance. Ever since I was a little girl, there were always the comments that let me know that others never thought that I was good enough.

"Looks like you've put on weight."

"Maybe you should lose a bit of weight."

"Wow, almost didn't recognize you."

"You'd be cute if..."

"If you'd only stop eating after 6pm..."

"If you'd only work out a little bit more..."

"Well, at least you have a cute face."

"When I was your age, I didn't weigh as much as you do."

"Wow, are those stretch marks?"

The amount of asinine comments that people throughout my life thought it their place to make towards me is astounding, half of them that were not the picture of Adonis perfection themselves. It was degrading, humiliating, humbling, dejecting. Absolutely nothing about these comments made me want to be a better person. It only made me feel less than. It made me feel worthless. My weight fluctuated. The comments started when I maybe only had fifteen extra pounds to lose. You can imagine what they became five pregnancies, four C-sections, and one miscarriage later. People have not been kind.

I let it hurt me. I hid. I didn't do the things that I enjoyed like my blog or my writing which would put me out there in the public eye more. I'd be forced to take pictures for my book covers, Facebook profiles, hopefully eventually pictures with fans. I was unable to put myself out there for public scrutiny. I was mentally and emotionally unable to motivate myself.

But then I let it happen....the explosion.

I started to notice the strings that tied me to my former self like spider webs.

I began to fully understand that I could not move forward without first confronting my demons. It wasn't going to be as easy as "body positivity". It needed to extend deeper, to repair years of hurt, years of what felt like irreversible damage. I did not want my struggles to bleed over onto my children. I did not want to inadvertently affect them in the ways I had been altered. I did not want echoing expectations to come out of my mouth and taint how they perceived themselves.

I faced a lot of things about myself that I wasn't ready to. I faced a lot of regrets. I found it almost impossible to move forward when my past was tugging at my mind like it did.

So I closed my eyes, and I released it like a supernova.

Okay, maybe all I did was just scream as loud as I possibly could. I felt tension build around my heart. I felt my stomach flip flop. I kept going.

I couldn't catch my breath when I was done and I had to take a moment to compose myself. But my mind had cleared. The air that flooded my lungs was sweeter. The tension around my heart eased and broke away. The chains were falling.

I had to move while I could. Those little voices come back when you let your guard down. To begin to heal from them, I first had to make them relax their hold, but I also had to do things in my life that would lessen their power over who I am today. I began to initiate changes in my life on many fronts which is what all of my blog posts this week will be about. I feel like speaking them out into the world gives these changes in my life tangibility and holds me accountable for my continued progress and achievement.

One of those fronts is a workout program that I started. Today I began Les Mills BodyStep On Demand step aerobics. I only made it through 20 minutes of the beginners 35 minute program and I was begging for mercy at the end of those 20 minutes. But I'm going to pick it right back up tomorrow and I'm going to build up until that 35 minutes goes by in a breeze and I can move on to the next class.

It isn't about being body positive, it's about being self-positive. It's about FINALLY loving myself enough to know that I am far more than the words that everyone spoke to and about me. It's about knowing that it's an uphill climb, but the only way to go is up from here. I am fully capable of making the change in myself that will put me above and beyond reproach from anyone who ever thought it was their place to judge me. I, and ONLY I, have the POWER to determine the course of MY life. For far too long I was allowing others to have that power, and THAT is what hurt me. THAT is what made me weak. I put more stock in others judgments and harsh words than I did in what I KNEW to be the truth about who I am and what I stand for. To hell with that.

I gave myself mercy, forgiveness for my faults and shortcomings, whatever I thought them to be, and I implented change where I knew it was within my power right now to do so.

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