Comparing Myself

Yesterday was Mother’s Day. I get to choose what I want to do, and my family complies. The weather interfered with my annual hike, but I was compensated by going to Papa Tavernas, a Greek restaurant for dinner.

This restaurant comes complete with live music, belly dancers and a dance floor for its patrons. I love to dance. I love to witness others dance. I love to eat. I love to go out with my family. It was a perfect evening.

There were three young women in brightly colored, coined, sequined, feathered and flowered belly dancing costumes. I watched their firm bellies undulate, and their hips rotate to the music. What beautiful bodies! How comfortable they were in their skin.

I began to compare my body to theirs. I’m probably 25 years older than they. I realized that my belly which has produced 4 children is bigger than theirs. Not necessarily a bad thing, but certainly true. A testament to my recovery is that watching them did not make me feel badly about my body!

The belly dancers left the dance floor, and the music began anew. A group of women of all ages and sizes got on the dance floor and began a Greek Folk dance. Their shoulders laced together while their feet moved in unison, creating intricate steps with ease. A handkerchief was held in the hand of the woman at the head of the line. This was used to invite the next woman in line to be the leader of dance that moved them along in a continuous circle.

Soon I noticed I was feeling a mild sense of discomfort. “I don’t know how to dance like that” I thought. My mother’s day wish was to come to this restaurant with my family and dance. Would I stay seated and restrict myself to watching others enjoy moving to this stirring music?

I began to study their feet. One step forward, one step back, a slight tap, another foot stepped backwards, next a dip. I tried to imagine myself replicating these steps. I envisioned myself stiff, rigidly trying to emulate the other womens graceful fluid movements.

I became aware of a growing uneasiness. My old comparing behavior found a way to slip into my mind. Although I was not comparing my body to the belly dancers, I was having difficulty as I compared the abilities of these Greek dancers to myself.

I brought my attention back to my dinner. The food was well prepared, my stomach was registering satisfaction. I pushed my plate away and leaned back in my chair.

My daughter invited me to dance. I paused, I was uncertain. “Mom, come on, let’s just get out there, you said you wanted to dance” she cajoled.

As we walked onto the wooden parquet floor, the gaggle of women who had previously line danced with such skill joined us on the floor. I knew there was no way I could emulate their cultures dance steps. I told my daughter, “Well, let’s just dance the way we do.”

As these diverse women linked their bodies together in line, my daughter and I began to move in the way our bodies are accustomed. Our hips swayed and rocked back and forth, we moved our Latin feet to the Greek music with ease.

No longer self-conscious, I delighted in dancing with my daughter. When my son stepped onto the dance floor with my mother’s day rose in his teeth, I was filled to the brim with happiness. Overflowing with joy I danced with my children. Soon we were circled by the Greek dancers, and found ourselves in the center of the dance floor. Dollar bills were being thrown on the floor, and smiling faces greeted us when we looked up.

“It’s great to have diverse dancers on the floor!” the woman exclaimed who held the sequined handkerchief in her hand. Imagine that, diversity celebrated!

I am so blessed to have done the personal work that allowed me to get on that dance floor. Even though I compared myself unfavorably to the women at first, I did not let my mind trick me into thinking I wasn’t good enough. If I had, I would have missed out on another amazing memory!

How has comparing affected you?

Michelle Minero is a licensed marriage family therapist who specializes in eating disorder recovery. She created an intensive outpatient eating disorder program in 2000, brought ANAD (Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, Inc.) to Petaluma shortly after and founded EDRS (Eating Disorder Recovery Support, Inc.), a Marin and Sonoma County based 501(c)3 non-profit organization in 2005. In 2011, Michelle co-founded the Love Warrior Community with her daughter, Emelina, an online community that helps people cultivate self-love, self-acceptance and body acceptance through creative expression. Michelle is finishing her book, Self-Love: The Only Diet That Works, and her dream is to see a world filled with people who love themselves and their bodies. Connect with Michelle on Facebook and Twitter and help spread the Self-Love Movement!

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