Breathing in Self-Love
By Diana Matthews
[dropcap background="no" color="#333333"]L[/dropcap]ast week, I had a dream. Well, more of a nightmare, really. I dreamt I was too fat to fit into a dress I had bought for a screening of Dream, Girl at the White House.
Yes, fat. Not curvy, not heavy. Fat. One of the ugliest words a woman can say, especially to herself.
The dream came a few days before I was set to leave for New York City. I was going to be staying for just over a month to attend the event in Washington D.C. and our NYC premiere on June 9th. It was a trip I had been looking forward to for months but in the days leading up, that excitement had turned into anxiety.[divider type="short" spacing="10"]
[dropcap background="no" color="#333333"]T[/dropcap]he dress I bought was the only one I tried on. It was love at first sight when I saw it in the store and as I looked at my reflection in the fitting room, I whispered, “That was easy.” It wasn’t long before my brain turned that statement into, “That was too easy.” AKA, something must be wrong.
I took the dress out of the garment bag and hung it on the closet door in my bedroom. From there, I started to nitpick. I obsessively stared at it as I drank my coffee in the morning and read in bed at night. Did I spend too much money? Did it actually look good? Was this the look I really wanted for the event? My mind was racing.
I also went shopping for a dress to wear to the world premiere and had a very specific look in mind for the event. As I tried on articles of clothing that I thought I wanted, nothing fit and I became angry with my reflection in the mirror.
Frustrated and depleted, I zipped and unzipped, buttoned and unbuttoned, sighing as I pulled at the fabric on my body. I felt guilty for not having made time for yoga and for eating out way too much during my vacation the week before.
It was only the night before I was leaving for NYC that I came to a realization that would fundamentally shift my perspective. It wasn’t about the dress. Not even a little bit. Not even at all.
I had been dumping all of my anxiety around how busy work was, traveling to New York and the lead up to launch into this dress. And what’s worse is that I extended that into problematizing my body instead of naming what I was actually nervous about.
I was being so hard on myself, the weight of needing to be perfect sitting like a boulder between my shoulder blades. I wanted to show up in New York as my very best self but I wasn’t exercising the self-care necessary to let that person shine through.[divider type="short" spacing="10"]
[dropcap background="no" color="#333333"]A[/dropcap]s we get ready to launch Dream, Girl and share it with our audience around the world, our team has been having daily check-ins about how we feel leading up to the premiere.
Komal, who is now cancer free after a tumultuous and upsetting three months, said to me,
“I used to practice self-sabotage and I’ve learned that there isn’t time for it anymore. Self-love is all there is.”
It stuck in the forefront of my mind.
On the flight to New York, I read Gay Hendricks’ book The Big Leap, in which he discusses the problem of upper limiting and the role it plays in our lives. In the book he quotes Robert Heller: Fear is excitement without breath. The words leapt of the page. I pulled my journal out of my carry-on and jotted them down next to where I had written Komal’s insights earlier.
I’m not filled with anxiety and frustration. I’m excited. And it felt so amazing to be able to name that emotion and realize that I was overjoyed about all of the experiences awaiting me in the upcoming months. Fear had me focusing on what I hadn’t done and kept me from giving into the excitement of what I had done.
But I hadn’t been breathing. I wasn’t breathing in the fitting room, I wasn’t breathing as I obsessively examined the dress in my apartment and I wasn’t breathing as I was holding myself to standard that had been constructed by anxiety.
There’s no room for anything but self-love, at this or any time in our lives. Hating on the person in the mirror isn’t going to make anything easier or tolerable. In fact, it will most likely make everything excruciatingly difficult.[divider type="short" spacing="10"]
[dropcap background="no" color="#333333"]T[/dropcap]his next phase for the film, our audience, our movement and our lives is surreal and approaching each and every day from a place of love is ensures the abundance and joy won’t be missed.
Sometimes we have to give ourselves permission: Let this be easy, let this land, let it in.
But we all have those moments where things just aren’t fitting, either physically or emotionally. And undoing the social brainwashing we as women have been subjected to takes concerted effort.
Throughout this process, I’m learning that the only way I can be at my best is if I build a relationship with myself that is founded on trust, understanding and acceptance. And I feel so grateful to be surrounded by friends and family who want so badly for me to foster that relationship.
The energy I feel leading up to our premiere is difficult to put into words. I see it as a rainbow; my heart feels like it’s going to burst with yellows, oranges and reds (with a touch of glitter).
After screening the film to an audience for the first time at the White House, I felt profound gratitude for being able to do this work. What Erin, Komal and our team have been working toward is finally here. What our audience and supporters around the world have been waiting for and sharing throughout their tremendous networks is finally here. We’re all celebrating together. This launch hasn’t come without a lot of sweat and tears. But it has come as a direct result of the incredible women who have been there for us since the beginning.
We came to you as an all-female crew, asking you to believe in the power of the female economy to help us make an independent film called Dream, Girl. You answered, in spades. And next week, we’re premiering at the Paris Theatre in New York City with friends, family and supporters from around the world.
Thank you for everything you’ve done, big or small, direct or indirect - this film is for all of us.
It hasn’t come easy. But it has come as a result of a whole lotta love.