How Dare You: Body Shaming and alike

I love scrolling down Instagram, checking out what celebrities are doing and often even reading other people’s comments.  I am amazed by how hostile people can be when they comment on their favorite celebrities.  They really take it upon themselves to defend these people as if they know them personally and I just find that a bit hypocritical and funny.  But one thing that surely hits home is body shaming.

I am personally not a fan of looks that seems to be trending on internet: skinny waste and huge bottoms, lips that scream of botox and ironed out faces to avoid the inevitable getting older.  Maybe I am old school, I can own that, but I am not a fan.  That said, I will not go to any of these accounts to shame any of these women for finding these things beautiful and then featuring it themselves.  It is their choice to do so, I find, and I can choose to follow them and see it or unfollow them and keep my corner of the world free of things I don’t find aesthetically pleasing.

Last night as I scrolled down my Instagram pages, I saw new photos of Meghan Markle (the Duchess of Sussex) and I couldn’t help but read the comments on the page.  While many comments were complimenting her audacity to wear a mini skirt, to preserve her Hollywood style while embarking on a Royal journey, there were many comments talking about her being too skinny, her legs looking like those of a chicken and remarks that she should never show her legs again given what they look like.  I am personally not a fan of the Duchess’ style, but I imagine there is a nicer way to express the dislike.  It’s one thing to comment on liking her choice of wardrobe and perhaps how it fits but entirely another to shame her for how her body looks.  Is it because she is now a “princess” and perhaps better off than most of us that gives us permission to judge so harshly feeling that maybe the Duchess herself would not care?  I am sure she doesn’t, I surely hope she doesn’t read random Instagram comments, but the energy of what we as the audience allow ourselves to do is disturbing at best.

Meghan Markle Hamilton.jpg

I grew up mostly having a few more pounds than I wanted to have.  In summer months, I would shred those with ease as I would spend 3 months in my beautiful summer home being in water or on the run non stop.  However, as the winter approached, I would gain a few pounds and while in retrospect I think I looked just fine, I know I was struggling with accepting myself the way I was.  I longed for having a little less curvy body, the one usually women who were very athletic had.  And yes, believe me, people around me shamed me for every one of those extra pounds, often commenting their view on my body whether it was to say I lost weight and looked fine or that I had a few more pounds and should probably take the bread out of my diet.  All in all, everyone, without asking permission, felt entitled to tell me what they felt.  In fact, this atmosphere continued as I grew older and even though my eating disorder, except now people thought I was too skinny and my bones were showing.  What hurt about this the most was not what people said but how blind they were at the pain I was enduring at that time and shame that I inflicted upon myself because I could never find myself right and find my body right exactly as it was at any given time.

As women, we all know people feel justified to comment on something that in so many ways, we don’t have much of a choice about.  Sure, some people are fat because they eat a lot, but some have issues with their thyroid or have been grieving a loved one and have put on the pounds to protect themselves from the pain.   Similarly, some people are skinny because they just don’t like to eat or are afraid to eat or simply, they are having a tough time.  Yes, there is what God gave us and then what we do with that, but in general, without asking a permission to speak about our bodies, none of these remarks are appreciated.  To go back to the Duchess, I was shocked to see how many hateful comments she received because she opted for a mini dress last night to the performance of Hamilton.  It’s one thing to express that perhaps mini dress goes against royal protocol or a dress code (even though one should ask her/himself, what really makes you an expert on this subject) but another to shame her body in any way shape or form just because it’s not your personal preference.

I will tell you the truth, I don’t find so many things aesthetically pleasing and the inner commentary surely comes up for me too – I am likewise human.  But here is the deal, at least for those of us who are adults: clear that thought before you go run with it and especially before you post it on social media for everyone to witness.  This world doesn’t need opinions on someone’s legs but compassion for the work that is being done.  The event last night was a charity event for children effected by HIV.  The Duchess got there with the only pair of legs she had, skinny or not.  Please lets put our attention on the things that really matter and stop the body shaming once and for all.  We have the legs that we have, it has nothing to do with who we are.

And lastly, after having 2 children, I am back to my pre-pregnancy weight and I am proud of it.  I have been back to practicing yoga and my body, even though not as strong as it ones was, is slowly getting back in a shape I knew it to be in.  I received comments on looking great given that I went through 2 pregnancies both last summer and this.  These comments made me just as uncomfortable as some in the past commenting the extra pounds or the most recent ones that I could be looking too skinny.  Here is the deal, don’t share your opinion on mine or anyone else’s body.  This is not up to discussion unless someone puts it up for discussion.  It’s is frankly a sexual harassment to talk about someone’s body in any way.  I get it that none of us are blind, we see things we deem pleasing and things that displease us.  You can’t change the inner commentary but you can stop putting it on a loud speaker and even worse, spewing it out in people’s face.  It’s not your place.  Mind your own body and work on your own self instead.

Thank you!

Love only. Compassion. Gratitude

I feel that in life, we often deal with some things over and over again.  I used to think this was wrong and beat myself up for things that resurface, but over time, I realized, this is just how life rolls.  We always have the same set of issues, but if we work on it, we get to take a deeper cut.  The deeper we go and the more we work on it, the more we expand our foundation, the more is possible for us and, as the consequence, we feel more joy.

Woman comfortable at home while reading a book

My father’s passing almost 2 months ago now, disturbed the calm waters of my life.  I was used to my father not being around, in fact, it is only after 20+ years that we restored our relationship to intimate connection and love that father-daugther relationships are usually made of.  That said, in May of last year, as I travelled to Paris for the first time, and my father happened to drive in to pick up his youngest son and drive him home to Croatia at the same time. I have fallen back into the pattern of expecting things of him like I did when I was a little girl all the way until I got married.  I forgot that the only way to have my father do something for me was to make sure he was aware of how much that mattered to me.  That worked 3 years ago when he drove down to Montenegro and met my younger son.  This time around, I didn’t want to do work to convince him to see me.  I wanted him to want it and do work for it.  And, he didn’t.

I reached out to him a few times over the summer and then I stopped trying.  On New Year’s Day, I received a message from him with greetings for the upcoming year.  I wished him the same with the picture of my family.  He wrote: “it is beautiful to see you all.”  A little more than a week later, on my 40th birthday, at 6pm New York time, I learned my father had a stroke.  He never woke up from it.

I am not going to lie to say that I didn’t think I’d be prepared for this.  Our relationship was way less than I think I ever deserved and I worked very hard throughout my life to feel deeply deserving of love, attention and commitment of another man because I never had that from my dad.  It was almost 8 years ago that I wrote an email t my dad in complete desperation to hear words of encouragement.  His response was that he wasn’t a good person to ask and the rest of the email was filled with his joyful sharing of the attention he was giving to his 2 boys from his second marriage.  In that moment, I realized, I would never have a father that I wanted. I stopped expecting things. And, even though I trained myself to not want more from him, I was always happy when he was in touch and he had power to provide me with so much joy with every bit of attention he gave me.

My dad dying shook me.  It was final.  I didn’t even get a chance to tell him I became an American citizen (his life long dream was to come here), because I had my Oath Ceremony just days after his brain was dead.  His heart was beating few days longer as if to buy me some time to get my passport and fly to attend his funeral.

Coming to Zagreb after 30 years was traumatic.  I went straight to the house where I used to visit him and his wife and sons were out visiting friends.  They knew I was coming but I guess it didn’t matter.  Thank God for an amazing friend I have who now lives in Zagreb who hosted me, fed me and offered a shoulder to cry on.  I spent more money on going to my father’s funeral than I remember him ever spending on me (this, of course, triggers the memory of unworthiness because he fought hard, and indirectly, not to pay for child support).

The past few weeks of my life felt like a cosmic joke.  My husband and I were interviewed couple dozen times because we hoping to put our older child in a private school in September.  Of course, we were not stupid, we applied to more than 1o private schools, that many public and numerous charter schools throughout the city.  Applying for financial aid in order to get into private school had me think about money a lot, realizing, I want to be earning way more than I do right now.  I made peace with slowing down with my business to roll with raising my two boys, but when I realized I was done birthing, I was itching to get out there, to impact more people and expand my reach.

I would gain some momentum then kids would get sick or something would happen to have me go back to square one.  At some point I did so many facebook lives but the criticism of it had me back down.  I couldn’t help but be self-conscious.  I understand that what I do is not everyone’s cup of tea but when a few people have a negative response, it’s tough for me to go on.  This isn’t new, my shaky relationship with my own self-esteem has obviously had something to do with it.

I was looking for perfection in everything I did.  I went too far experimenting with my own weight.  Since I became a teenager, I was either on diet or skipping meals until I did a stupid Atkins diet in year 2000 that had me restrict carbs.  I will never forget that on the 13th day of restricting carbs, I lost it.  I was interning for the sound post production company and the kitchen there was filled with all kinds of cookies and junk for the people who spent hours working.  I couldn’t stop eating, which led to me being so full that I had to purge to prevent myself rom bursting.  Before I knew it, this became a pattern.

I was ashamed to ask for help so I struggled for years to come.  I was skinny and miserable.  My eating disorder was a way I punished my body for not obeying, for being too curvy and not allowing me to eat whatever I wanted whenever I wanted it.  I worked so hard that this practice allowed me to have a sense of control in the places where us, women, usually don’t have it.  I got a handle on it in 2005 when I did transformational work, Reiki and began to listen to my own inner voice about who I was and what I wanted.  I relapsed for years after that but I was strong enough to always get back on the horse when I fell down from it.  I remember telling my dad about my struggle and him telling me to just stop doing it.  Somehow, I also thought that this was my fault, that I this time of my life was wasted, that I was wasteful and stupid for being sick.

Almost a decade later, and after spending over $30K on fixing my teeth, I feel like I am still blaming that little 20 year old Marija for being so stupid to numb her feelings with food, for spending so much time being sick and not asking for proper support and guidance.  In fact, as I decided to fix the aesthetics of my front teeth so that every time I smile I don’t think how thin my front teeth are and feel shame of it all over again, all of this came to the surface.  Restricting food (with all the dental work, I am pretty much on the soup and soft food diet) is likewise triggering in me the desire to give in, to give up, to relapse, to loose myself again in the binge so that I can numb the overwhelming emotions that are resurfacing.

What saddens me the most right now as I am writing this is how uncomfortable I am with appearing weak, with vulnerably sharing my struggle and needing support.  I think this is a problem with our society, people move on, they forget to ask, we are all expected that old troubles don’t bother us anymore.  Slowly, everyone is forgetting to ask if I am still grieving my dad.  Surely, many people that knew about my eating disorder probably just assume that I don’t think about it anymore just because I don’t purge or go on binges.    But, this is all not people’s fault.  It is us, me, who don’t ask for help when we need it.  Being criticized is one of my biggest triggers which is why, in the past, I always opted to restrict the information I give.  I worry about what other people think and say, so in the process, I mold myself to fit in.  It’s an old pattern that every now and then I fall back into.  This is why I am writing this.  I am not complaining, I am not even sharing it to get points, I am sharing the process.  Working with people in the past decade had me see that nobody is immune to this.  We all have things come up and then those of us who are committed to having great lives clear it and those that are not, ignore it.  Either way, things come up and every time they do, they come up faster and stronger at us, which makes sense, because we are stronger too.

In a face of everything new I want to create, my insecurity will come up to bite me in the ass.  I will then remember that my father did the best he knew to do and will allow to feel his energy all around me supporting whatever it is I am up to.  And regardless of how much I feel that my dental work is punishment for my eating disorder, I will find compassion for doing the best I could at the time to numb the overwhelming emotions that took me years to be able to feel, claim, allow and make right.  I will remember my mom’s words: “teeth can be fixed,” and I will go on to fixing what I can for as long as I live.  Expansion is only possible when are moving through it, when we are playing games that are big enough that we can see everything that isn’t a match for who we need to be to win them.  Love only.  Compassion.  Gratitude.

 

 

 

Let go and let love

We have all experienced a heart break at least once in our lives.  By the time I was 30, I was an expert in being heartbroken.  And not only that, each failed relationship was feeding into my fear that I was not enough and that true love will never really knock on my door. I think everything I did since I became an adult was geared towards learning how to find and keep a guy.  I knew I was smart enough to succeed in other things, but the matters of heart – that I felt I had no control over. As someone who suffered from an eating disorder for a good chunk of my 20s, I knew what it felt like to be addicted to something.  And the power that had me to stop ED was the power that had me find love.

Now, I don’t believe that we can control when love will happen – that is in the hands of Higher Power, but I do believe that we can, and are responsible, to create a clear and pristine space for it, so that it can show up for us.  In the clear and pristine space, LOVE does show up.

I know some of you have done personal development work.  I applaud that.  And, for what I am about to say, I think that such work can be more of an obstacle than support.  In fact, it is that we keep on thinking that there is something for us to “work on” that has us stuck in the same old pattern of “not enough”.  We can’t be both: complete and in need of more therapy/transformation. As a coach, I make sure my clients never feel inadequate, but rather see our work together as their consistent evolving inside of a committed, clean, powerful, safe and loving space.  I don’t have my clients feel like there is something to fix, something many of the programs, therapies, works out there are based on.  For as long as we think we need to fix our relationship with our parents, for example, we aren’t really focused or present to the prince charming that may be right in front of us – mistake number 1.

The mistake number 2 is that we hold on to our past like it’s real.  Our urge to love and find love has us hold on to people and memories where we at least somewhat felt like our feelings were reciprocated.  And instead of letting go of all past relationships that did’t serve us, we mess up more in order to cope with what’s already messed up.  When I had an ED, I binged to cope with my urge to binge.  Other words, only when I binged did I relieve the anxiety that I was feeling when I felt the urge to binge.  It is only when I realized that the voice telling me to binge was not REAL ME, that I was able to silence the voice and take actions that I wanted to take: anything from being with people, actually answering my phone, making a difference in the world and alike. It is when I observed the voice in my head, without thinking I needed therapy, to journal my emotions, to read more books on the subject and give my power away, that I was able to see that the voice in my head did not have power over my actions.  In fact, more I recognized that voice as NOT ME, more silent the voice became.

So, please ladies, do not cling to the past relationships that don’t serve you, don’t send more emails so that you can get a different response, or send that last text thinking something will change.  Your urge to do these things is coming from the voice that isn’t YOU and the relief from that anxiety to say something is only temporary and making things worse in a long run.  The voice that tells you to do so is not who YOU are.  YOU can hear it and dismiss it and then do what works: move on, go out on a date with a new guy, or go visit a friend.  When you keep falling back into the same pattern, you perpetuate addiction and the space stays cluttered.  Love only comes into the clear and pristine space.  So, let go and let love.