I’ve been asked many times what pivotal event ignited my passion to help women make peace with their bodies. For me, it was a series of moments, over years, that built like steps on a high-dive ladder. With each event, I climbed a little higher until I made it to the diving platform. Then I inched my way past the safety rails until I was standing on the edge of the board.
I’d love to say that once I was gripping that board with my toes, I wholeheartedly leapt off the diving platform full of the awareness I needed to execute a fancy double flip, triple twist, water entry as smooth as velvet dive. The reality was a heart-palpitating, gut-churning false bravado that would have probably resulted in me crawling back to the ladder, except a bout of dizzying vertigo took charge and pushed me off the board in a sideways sprawl that knocked the breath out of my shocked body when I hit the water. Only after I clawed my bruised body to the pool’s edge and laid myself out on the hard but precious concrete did I realize the initiation I’d just passed through.
Over the next few weeks, I’m going to wrangle my memories about the most vivid events that sparked my awakening. Because I tend to write the stories that are the loudest when I sit at my desk, this retelling will not be in chronological order.
Part 1 – The Dream
I had a dream experience that still takes my breath when I recount it: I was in labor and gave birth to a baby girl. She looked like a sleeping angel, swaddled in the white hospital blanket with blue-and-pink stripes. She wore a jaunty little hospital cap that the nurses had added a bow to. She was perfection.
But she didn’t cry. She was alive but also not a part of this world. There was no spark inside her. I was frantic that she wasn’t crying, but no one in the delivery room was bothered. I looked at my husband and asked, “Why isn’t she crying?” He just shrugged and looked away. The nurses who had washed and swaddled her were not at all concerned. I screamed, “Help her. Somebody, help her.” But everyone ignored me, unfazed by my desperation.
I felt invisible and helpless and terrified.
Then rage slid like hot lava down to my bones. This baby should be crying and no one but me cared. How could I be the only one who cared?
If no one would help me, then I would heal her myself.
I dropped to my knees, lifted my arms, and unleashed a primal, guttural cry. The baby wailed so loud that I woke up.
As soon as my eyes popped open, I knew that baby was me. I was going to have to heal myself, to find my voice, to ignite my authentic spark. No one could do it for me. But I was ready, ready to love myself, ready for a bolder life.
And everything I needed was inside me.