What is the longest relationship you have been in?
I was thinking about this recently and today I came to the realization that the longest relationship I have been in is 53 years today!!
That is because today is my birthday, and I am 53 years old. The relationship I am referring to is my relationship with my body.
Over the past 53 years this relationship has been in just about every stage you can imagine.
In her article, “The 5 Stages of A Relationship”, Linda Carroll, M.S., LMFT outlines these different stages as she sees them. And just like many things I have found that what I think of as a linear journey is, in fact, not linear at all.
We see in the movies and the majority of main-stream media that relationships start in the “meet-infatuation” stage, move through some challenges and obstacles and then arrive at our very own “happily -ever-after”.
And that would be fantastic if it were true for ANY of our relationships. But I have found that mostly this is just a nice storyline that can be wrapped up neatly in 30 mins to two-ish hours.
Reality is a little messier and more involved, and doesn’t seem to have a “arrival point” that signals success.
What has felt a little more true to me is similar to the “Five Stages of Intimacy” as outlined in a post by Vivian Baruch.
This is a little “meta” but I think of this as a relationship between my “physical” body and my mind and spirit. More specifically it is the way I THINK and FEEL about my “physical” body.
So what are these stages?
Stage One – The Honeymoon Phase
I am sure there had to have been a time in my life where I felt this way about my body. A time when I was feeling like there couldn’t be anything wrong in this relationship, like I was capable enough to achieve anything. My body was just as it should be and there was nothing wrong with me at all.
Unfortunately, I don’t really remember that phase of the relationship.
Stage Two – Conflict/Differentiation
This is when the honeymoon fades and you go from feeling you can do no wrong to feeling you can do no right.
In this phase, I went from being my biggest fan to being my worst critic.
I am sure it didn’t happen overnight but over time. Either way, an extensive amount of time has been spent in this phase.
Maybe it was fueled by the comparison to others around me and seeing how I did or did not measure up according to the ever-changing standards of beauty and fitness as I interpreted them.
Whatever it is that led to this, it has been a phase I have moved in and out of multiple times over the years. More often than not it has been the stage that I felt stuck in with no way out.
Stage 3 – Creating Partnership/Respecting Differences
This stage is about teamwork and deliberate practice. To quote the article, “a healthy expression of this freedom is “what’s good for me, has to be good for you and the relationship” too.”
What does that look like for a relationship with your body? For me it is a phase I have been more intentional about more recently.
It looks like making choices for my body because I want to treat it well rather than punishing it to reach some idealized standard that is unattainable. It is focusing on overall health and wellness more than numbers on a scale or the size on the tag.
That is not to say those numbers don’t matter. As long as those numbers remain informational rather than a moral judgment they can be helpful.
Stage 4 – Reconnecting/Rapprochement
This is a phase where I have finally learned to appreciate my body for its uniqueness and individuality. I know more clearly who I am. I have learned even more about what my body is capable of and what its purpose is. There is more acceptance of what is and the desire for change comes from the spirit of possibility more than an effort to earn acceptance.
I’m Michelle. I am learning how to minimize my overwhelm, perfectionism, and people-pleasing and I am ready to help you do the same. I’m a certified Life Coach and a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Come with me and learn how.
I believe that in this phase I can begin to feel more connection with what my body and my spirit truly need and how best to provide those things. This takes a willingness to ask and to pay attention to the response that may arise. Even after that, it takes a willingness to follow through on those responses.
I think currently I most often experience Stage 3 and occasionally move into Stage 4. It still feels unfamiliar to me but it no longer feels completely false.
Stage 5 – Mutual Interdependence
I can see this stage though it still seems off in the distance. It continues to be a work in progress, but for me, this stage is when I choose to do things because I have learned that the choices I make for my mental health directly affect my physical health and vice versa.
In this stage, I know that I am deeply loved, trusted, and respected….by me. I am still working towards this stage. That is what I want to continue to do for myself.
At least now I can see it as a possibility not just a “fairytale” happily ever after. That in and of itself is progress from not so many years ago.
It is a process that is taking me time but all good relationships take time and effort. This is an important relationship for me because it colors and shades every other relationship that I have.
I know that as I continue to develop my relationship with my body I can become more of my true self. When I am “good” within this relationship, it will require less time for me to think about myself freeing me up for more of what I want to create.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this!
Send me a message and tell me about your relationship with your body by clicking the link to “Contact Me”. Share with me how you nurture this relationship. Tell me what, if anything, you would like to be different in your relationship. If you prefer, you can “Schedule a Conversation” for a free session to discuss what you want to work towards and how to get started.
Remember…..It’s ALL good!!