Last week, my parents celebrated 29 years of marriage. In what I have realized is their go-to move, they invited me along to their anniversary dinner. At which I employed my apparently go-to move and suggested that, in honor of 29 years, they share 29 things they love about each other. They weren’t so thrilled about the idea, both being quiet and humble people who do not like to be the center of attention, and who have a hard time accepting compliments, but together they created an incredibly persistent offspring, and after I exercised this tactic for a few moments, we were off to the races.
Some of their statements were funny, some I never would have thought of, and all made me wonder what kind of love makes it possible to still be in it 29 years later, and then, they answered the question for me.
“I love the way you always let me be myself,” said my mom, a slight waver in her voice.
My dad, a man of few yet powerful words gazed at her across the table and said softly, “That’s the only way to be.”
I immediately had to excuse myself to the bathroom, as hot tears splashed down from the corners of my eyes. Tears filled with joy, and amazement, and an overwhelming thankfulness for what I was just invited to witness.
Being ourselves, it is the only way to be.
I have never been married for 29 years. In fact, I have never been married at all, and could not even begin to speak to the joys and difficulties of marriage in any capacity. But that’s not the point. What my parents were speaking to was a relationship of love. And we are all, in one way or another, involved in relationships of love.
Whether it is a relationship with a partner, a family, a friend, a job, a calling, or the relationship we have with ourselves and our own bodies, I hope those would be relationships of love.
In this work, in the world of body image, disordered eating, and eating disorders, I am confronted every day with the pain, the sorrow, and the destruction that comes when we look at ourselves, and look at our bodies, and have trouble loving them the way they are, loving them when they’re being themselves.
What if we could live for 29 years in love with our own bodies? What would it take?
What if we were kind to our bodies, speaking to them the way we long for a partner to speak to us? Not negating or ignoring our flaws, but embracing them, celebrating them because they, because they are part of us, and uniquely us, and they are beautiful.
“You don't love someone for their looks, or their clothes, or for their fancy car, but because they sing a song only you can hear.” – Oscar Wilde
About the Author: Gillian McGann could not be more in love with or passionate about the mission of Circles of Change. She is currently serving as the Director of Ophelia's Place where she is constantly in awe of the incredible women she gets to work with, and the blessing it is to be in love with what you do. Her advice: there are two things it is always time for: dancing and popcorn.