I spent today alone at Olympus Spa, a rejuvenating sanctuary for women that’s housed in an industrial park, but could just as easily be situated in an expensive destination resort.
I was at Olympus last November when Elisabeth and Kat treated me to a day at the spa for my 52nd birthday. But today was different. Today was a day for me to be very quiet, to be alone, to focus inward a bit, and to just float – literally and figuratively.
The great thing about a women’s spa is that all pretenses, all vanity, all ego, and all self-consciousness are stripped – quite literally – away within moments of arrival and we are exposed completely to each other. In the large pool and body scrub room, woman walk around completely naked and completely unashamed. Morbidly obese women, anorexic women and women of every body type in between move from pool to pool, from sauna to scrub to shower without shame and without judgment.
I have never loved my body – ever. I have always found fault in my too-short legs, my more-than-ample bottom, and my obvious pear-shape. Even in high school and college, at 120 pounds, I hated my body and felt that I was fat. Four children later, my body image is worse than ever, and since gaining 30-some pounds in the five years since my mother died, my self-esteem and body image has been pathetic. I’ve let myself go. I’ve gotten fat. I’ve lost respect for my body and I’ve betrayed it. How dare I? It’s a silent shame that I live with and I quietly beat myself up over it daily.
When I sat in the pools at Olympus Spa today and watched the women around me, though, I came to the realization that in spite of my dismal personal body image that I rarely speak about but is always with me, I am actually pretty solidly average. Sure, there were the svelte young high school and college students with beautiful, sleek, smooth bodies at the spa. But mostly there were women like me -- women who had obviously birthed and nursed a few babies and who, like me, are contending with the effects of age and gravity.
Today was physically rejuvenating as I soaked in the pools of various temperatures, treated myself to a vigorous (and that’s putting it lightly!) Korean Body Scrub, and sat motionless in hot sand and salt and charcoal rooms.
Today was also emotionally rejuvenating, as I read, wrote, pondered and reflected. And as I fully accepted my body … if only for a few short hours.