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All the Soft Places

Updated: Feb 1, 2021

I’ve noticed recently, with not too great a fondness, the layer of softness which seems to be perpetually resting on my upper thighs when I sit. Some days I’m so aware of it, I can’t escape the feeling of wondering if everyone else notices too. As I push and pull on my jeans, to distinguish where fabric ends and skin begins, I wonder to myself if it’s really sticking out as far as it feels. Or could it simply be the reality of a body which indulges in a drink and a nice meal more often than not.

I suppose even the happiest, most compatible of couples don’t like each other every day- some times my relationship with my body can be similar. I wish to trade it in to be taller, toner, maybe thinner. At some point in my life, I’m sure I’ll wish it to be younger. I suppose the difference between relationships with lovers and ourselves is the former, one chooses. The latter, even in the more dire attempts to flee that which we were inherently given, will only leave us in a state of exhaustion, out of breath- much like myself when I try to work away my softness.

What is it that bothers me so much about “it”, anyway? Is it the way a dress clings on a windy day exposing every lump and bump? A perfect bodice cannot be worth giving up pasta and pizza in the Italian Alps. Is it merely bothersome during “bikini body” season, as if my body is worth more or less depending on location and the weather? It sounds ridiculous when said that way, doesn’t it? For I wouldn’t forfeit my family’s tradition of New Years Eve fondu with chocolate and raspberries, and melted cheese and bread, in exchange for being declared fit to wear two small pieces of material. Is it the fear that whomever “He” may be, is still yet to arrive in my life because a smaller, more petite frame has already been found and deemed as more desirable? Would he not know God has given me a body reflective of the compassion and humor I have to give? I’d much rather keep my own company than apologize for my portion control. For just as the ebbs and flows of my body do not come in bite sized portions- modified to be given in small doses to those who cannot see beyond that which has been defined as feminine- neither does love.

Neither does this life.

Life is not meant to be experienced in portion-controlled, flavorless bites of mediocrity for the sake of conformity. Nor is it to be dialed down to quick solutions geared towards the appearance of perfection paired with an extreme lack of personal depth and substance. Unlike the relationship between the lover and the body, the life and the body have an undeniable sacred commonality- we are only given one.

The size of my body has never stopped me from giving love- though arguably has encumbered receiving it. The softness of my stomach has never denied me the joy of hugging those for whom I care, nor laughing at the hysterics of my closest friends. It has never withheld anything from me and yet it is so easy to withhold my love from my closest self.

I cannot say I have laid hold or obtained the perfect pathway to endlessly offering love to myself. But what I can do is this. Much like a lover, on those “aware” days, where it is easier to deny and ignore the body I have been gifted than be confronted with the reality of being- I hold myself, in all the soft places. And no matter how exasperated or resigned I may feel- I whisper, “I love you.”

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