Grand Designs Part 1 – The shape I am

What happens when your body shape seems faulty?

Grand Designs Part 1 – The shape I am

Splish, splash, splooosh” a dollop of yellow paint hit the paper and got mixed into pink. A blue tree was marked out on the left, below an orange plane. Tall blue skyscrapers appeared with people waving out from behind yellow-window panes while lightening flashed up above and purple cars drove past kids in the park.

When I was young, I delighted in making landscapes on a page and went all in sketching how the world felt to me. In every splodge and scribble there was joy and delight, I didn’t worry about how it looked or the mess that was being made. Who knew what was coming next? I picked up the paintbrush eager to find out.

But as I grew this simple pleasure changed. I won a competition, and my artwork was celebrated in the local newspaper. My family wowed at the pictures that I made and when things in our house felt sad and miserable to me, I found I could get other people’s attention by making images that they liked. But this way of shaping life wasn’t just restricted to colours and pictures on a page. When I was upset and wanted others to behave differently, I’d hide in my bedroom and wait for them to track me down and give me sympathy. I’d act up and fight with those close to me as a way to get back for what I thought wasn’t fair or right. I became obsessed with music and soccer and used them to escape when things occurred that hurt to feel. I gradually taught myself to bottle up what I sensed and started to paint a different canvas in my world.

When I was 13, I was in a minor car accident and the family member who was examining me to check for injuries observed that my chest was doing something strange - it was growing inward and becoming concaved. How long had it been like that? Did it hurt? Did my parents know? I got the sense from her questions that something was not ok.

As I grew and developed into a young man, my chest continued to sink further in. At first, like other life events I didn’t like, I simply stuck my head in the sand and pretended it wasn’t taking place. Eventually my parents took me to a doctor who advised that we should monitor it and wait and see what occurred as I grew. But when I showered or was alone with myself, the body I saw looking back in the mirror was far from what I thought a normal man should be. I saw them on the magazine stand and on the football pitch, in music videos and on TV - muscled, strong and tough, seemingly invincible and perfectly defined, with broad shoulders, six packs and barrel chests. That was a real man or so I believed – so what had gone wrong when God designed me?

This train of thought intensified as I got older. When I looked at myself all I could see was ugliness and an ill fit staring back. This self-critique didn’t restrict itself to my chest but spread like a virus to my other body parts: my ears stuck out, my hair was too curly, my body way too lanky and thin. When I saw photos of myself, I was disgusted and couldn’t look without picking apart the way I appeared. Other people were given bodies that were ‘normal’ and apparently uniform, but here I was stuck with a deficient design or so it seemed to me.

Growing up in a cold climate, it was easy to hide my body under layers of clothes. But when I saw other men’s physiques in changing rooms, a quick survey of their frames confirmed the belief that I was weird, different and a bit of a freak. I became used to hiding my body with towels and shirts strategically draped over me to stop anyone noticing my different shape.

I distanced myself from other people in my day to day, fantasising about having a relationship while pushing anyone who was crazy enough to show any affection for me to the side. I felt it was just a matter of time till they saw my chest and walked away disgusted at the imposter man they had found. The friends I did have were the outcasts who also disliked themselves for various reasons, and so we coalesced and sought solace in our various methods to escape life.

This swirl of emotions came to a head when I met a girl I was strongly attracted to but felt it was pointless to pursue. I left home to attend college, carrying with me a chain of melancholic thoughts inside my head. Isolated and alone in foreign surroundings, I wanted out and sensed the road ahead was one that seemed to have no end.

I decided to quit my course, return home, become an ‘artist’ and express what I had to say about the difficulty of being alive. But during this sea change in my life, I contacted the doctors again to see if there was something that could be done about my chest and found out about a corrective surgery that was available. Sensing a solution at long last I pursued this route - if I could change my body’s look surely everything about my life would fall into place?

As I lay on the cold operating slab in an old and drafty London hospital, the fluorescent tubes flickering above my head, the doctors informed me what was about to take place and how the anesthetic would work. I was not concerned, convinced that an end to all my body issues was close at hand. While I was unconscious the surgeons cut open my chest and snipped around my sternum, then placed two metal bars inside and stitched it up, the concept being the bars would give my chest a new improved look and shape. I awoke hours later, in distress but strangely numb, unable to feel anything or interrogate what was going on. In the empty ward I attempted to lie down on various beds, thinking it was something wrong with the mattress that I was on that was troubling me. Gradually as my senses returned, it became clear there was a pain deep inside that I was experiencing but it was being blocked out by drugs. I’d never broken anything or experienced any kind of physical discomfort in my life, but it quickly became clear that rearranging my body shape wasn’t as simple as drawing new lines on a page.

The doctors at the time recommended I abstain from sports for six weeks, but a year later, I was still recovering and unable to go back to ‘normal life’. As I struggled with my body and reoccurring pain, I immersed myself in watching sport and reading books to relieve the discomfort I was in. I read almost every classic fiction masterpiece that exists in the space of a few months, but as I did, I noticed that these tales of human woe and suffering weren’t having the greatest effect on my mental health. I also noticed there was a relationship between what I ate and when, and how that all affected my sleep and pain. I looked around my bedroom covered in photos of Rockstar bands and decided to rip it all down and get the walls painted white. Eventually after a couple of years I was able to return to my studies and part time work. But far from the model man I had aimed to be, I was now super sensitive to pain and sleep. Instead of resolving obstacles, the operation just seemed to have added more reasons I was unfit to participate in life.

Fast forward five years and I found myself sitting in a city square, when two people approached me with a microphone. They introduced themselves as journalists for a national newspaper, doing a quick survey for an article. The question they wanted an answer to was, “If you could change one thing about life what would it be?” They grinned at me and settled back ready for my candid reply. I had no answer preprepared, so just let out whatever was there - “nothing” I said – seriously surprising myself. “Eh? What do you mean?” They looked back at me confused and quite perplexed. “Well, it seems like everything is as it is for a reason that we don’t always understand. Like the most perfect gift you didn’t realise you even had”. The journalists looked perturbed then shuffled off to find someone else to contribute to their vox pop while I was left to sit with what I had said.

A year or two later I was drifting along in my life, working part time in a music store to get by when a woman came in the shop who was bubbly and friendly but a bit different to other people that I’d met. It seemed that she liked me in a romantic way, but instead of running scared as I had before, this time I decided to let her come closer.

As we got to know each other I found out she attended courses in her spare time, run by a philosopher called Serge Benhayon. She played some audios of his to me. In these presentations Serge spoke about the true energetic make up of life, and the factor of the Spirit and the Soul. Whilst I didn’t understand everything that was said, I started to grasp that the thoughts and things I had in my head weren’t mine the way I had been led to think.

As I took greater notice of my day to day, it became obvious how I was being affected by energy around me in my life. The impacts of the music, books and photos on my wall that I had noticed years before started to make complete sense at last. As I started to bring more awareness to my life, I’d notice patterns with the thoughts about my body shape: If I ate a certain food, or an incident occurred I didn’t like, suddenly I could find myself staring in the mirror thinking plastic surgery was the only viable route. A familiar vortex of ‘I am wrong and need to be changed’ opened up for me to entertain and be consumed by.

Like wrestling with a monster that you cannot see, at first it seemed impossible to defeat. When the tentacles of self-destruction were on top of you it felt very hard to get them off again. But gradually as I regularly practiced the Gentle Breath Mediation™ and attended healing courses of Universal Medicine, I got a stronger sense of how my body felt when these critiques were not there, the difference in me became so clear. Through this, I began to develop an ability to stop the thoughts as they attempted to suck me in like the plot of a bad TV show and say to myself ‘hey this isn’t true and not from you’. This happened not from trying to enforce change or talk myself out of being harsh, but from simply taking greater care for my body in my day. The more I made these loving steps in my life that honoured me (like taking care with the way I dressed, moved and spoke), the more my internal landscape transformed to be the same way.

Today its eleven years since I first came across Serge Benhayon and Universal Medicine. The pain and discomfort I experienced for many years after the procedure on my chest, are completely gone – and disappeared effortlessly after I was inspired by Serge to make changes to my diet and the way I live. The sleep issues I was experiencing have vanished too. Now I live every day engaged and wake up early in the morning ready to go.

But greater than any changes in my circumstance, the fact is that today I no longer see myself as deficient or faulty in any way, and very rarely experience any thoughts or doubts about the way my body looks. From where I was in my life prior to coming across Universal Medicine and Serge, this transformation is a total miracle in my eyes. Yes, I made the choices to look deeper inside, but the support and inspiration to return to truth they offered me was the key. The factor of energetic integrity, which Serge Benhayon presents, has utterly and completely transformed my life, way beyond any picture I had in my head.

Today there’s increased openness in my chest, a warmth and fire I have lived without for so long. When that’s not there it’s an immediate warning sign for me to stop and reconnect before proceeding on.

Returning to The Ageless Wisdom - the truth about life and Love as presented by the many teachers who have graced this world, it’s become clear that when we align to our Soul and live in line with what we know is true, we play our part in a grand design way beyond what our mind can plan or understand. And as I look out at my life today, it is clear this is just the start of many amazing developments that are already organised. All that is there for me to do is pick up the paintbrush again and see what’s next to come…

Grand Designs Part 2 – From the stars

Filed under

Ageless WisdomBody imageSelf-empowermentSelf-esteem

  • By Joseph Barker

    To sketch, paint and question life. To cook, laugh and wonder why. To hug, hum and appreciate the sky, to look into another's eyes. These are some of the reasons Joseph loves life and is inspired to contribute to this amazing site.

  • Photography: Clayton Lloyd