This Quote Made Me Feel Ashamed


I started journaling as a teenager. My journal was by best friend. My place to share all my hidden emotions. To cry it out on paper.


If anyone ever read my old journals they would think I was totally crazy. I wrote most often when I was depressed and ashamed. My journals created the space I needed to pour out my intense body hatred, my issues with my family, my pain from break-ups, my passion nature, my desires to drop out of college and go live in a yurt, and many, many other ramblings.


My journals were and continue to be a place I write down inspirational quotes. Sometimes these quotes would motivate me and other times they ignited my shame.


I wrote this one in BOLD during the Fall of 1991. It still send shivers through my body when I read it and let myself fully absorb the message.


“Who cannot love herself, cannot love anybody. Who is ashamed of her body, is ashamed of all life. Who finds filth in her body is lost. Who cannot respect the gifts given before birth can never respect anything fully.”  - Anne Cameron Daughters of Copperwoman


I would read and reread this quote in the hopes that it would make me love myself. I tried to guilt myself into loving myself.

My internal conversation would be something like “you suck Michelle- you can’t really love anything if you don’t love yourself. How can you say you love your friends, love the Earth, love your family if you hate yourself and your body.” It would get nastier and nastier and I would end up feeling worse and worse.


I was very much an all-or nothing thinker. In my mind there was no way I could love my body because in my mind that would mean I was OK with being overweight, that I was OK with bingeing, that I was OK with “being lazy.”


The power of Anne Cameron’s words haunted me. I thought of myself as a loving, giving person and yet it did not make sense that I could be so disgusted with my body and have so much compassion for other people, animals and the Earth.


I have come to realize this is one lesson I am continually learning. It is a gift wrapped up in a super messy package.


Twenty years ago when I copied Anne Cameron’s words into my journal I was not ready to hear them. I loved her message but I did not have the skills to let it in.


If I could tell that young woman what I know now I would tell her to be kinder, enjoy the process, start small:


* Find one thing each day that you love about your body- it can be as simple as your the calming presence of your breathe, the way your heart continues to beat, your collarbone or the color of your eyes.


* Appreciating yourself and your body is the path to more love for yourself. Guilt and body hatred only lead to greater hopelessness and heaviness both physically and mentally.


* All or nothing thinking is LIMITING and BORING. Open your mind and heart to the possibility that there are many, many paths to anything and everything.


* Keep writing in your journal and remember to write when you are inspired with love.



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I cannot emphasize how much of a positive change happened in my life than when I first met Michelle. At the time I was underfed and over exercised unable to fathom why I couldn’t lose weight.

Layla San Martin