My Freedom Belly — It’s a New Forever Thing

Grace J. Kim
6 min readJun 18, 2021

Sweet liberation.

I have a confession.

It’s something I’ve been sitting for half my life — I’m 32 now.

If you do the math, it started when I was in high school, sophomore-ish.

I wanted to be seen, desired, liked.

No, that’s not the confession.

I would do things that would make me look a certain way in the hope that I would be noticed, deemed worthy of someone else’s (preferably someone popular and cool) friendship, or even attention.

No, that’s not the confession, yet.

This is what I’m here to say:

For half my life, I have been sucking in my stomach.

I have been dissatisfied with my body for a very long time.

I have healed a lot of it in the past several years -

I no longer use food as comfort,

I no longer starve myself to the point of getting lightheaded just from standing up,

and then binge like a motherfucker afterwards,

I no longer look in the mirror and shame myself for all the parts I thought were disgusting

e.g. my thunder thighs, thick upper arms, big ribs (LOL), double chin, etc etc etc.

So yay for that.

But there was one part of my body that I did everything I could to manipulate the way it looked — every. single. day.

I sucked in my stomach.

It wasn’t very obvious to others, probably, but it made me feel better.

It made me feel like I had some control over my image, my freaking LIFE.

It made me feel like I really did look that “skinny” or “lean”.

L o l.

I did it for so long, so constantly, so unforgivingly, that it became a part of how I live in my body.

I became so comfortable with the discomfort; it no longer felt like I was sucking in my stomach.

It no longer felt like I was ‘doing’ something.

It became a part of my ***being***.

Can you just freaking imagine???

ALWAYS having tension, or rather, CREATING tension in your body for 15-ish years?!?!?!

Non stop?

And don’t EVEN get me started when there were events and weddings and pool parties and beach bbqs.

I would STRESS about keeping my belly looking lean and tight — was I even having fun?!!

Dear LORD lol.

It has only just NOW come to my attention the kind of havoc it’s been wreaking on my nervous system.

Until now, I was absolutely not ready to see and accept what I had been putting my body through,

the level of anxiety and stress and all the related hormones and chemicals I LIVED with and in.

I had worked on all the other things around my body, food, exercise, etc.

But not this.

Subconsciously, I truly did not want to let go of the one ‘easy’ way to control the way I looked so I would feel comfortable with how I presented myself to the world.

I really really really REALLY did want to look like *that* girl,

the one that had the perfect body, even without working out or eating perfectly,

the one that had the lightning speed metabolism,

the one that looked lean and fit.

I want to both laugh and barf at what I’m writing.

Two days ago, with the help of an amazing physical therapist, I came clean with myself about that.

I mean, even being able to see this has been a journey of loving my body enough to want to know the truth — even if it wasn’t immediate.

I’ve softened so much about the way I am with my body, enough so I could come to such a gentle awareness and understanding, that a new way of being was able to come through with ease and grace.

After my PT session on Wednesday, I knew in my heart of hearts, that I had been imprisoning my body and imprisoned in my body and…

my body was giving me the signs, which my PT helped me to see, or rather feel.

It was clear that my body was responding to the stress I’d been feeling at work AND the stress I was feeling about my image (which had been going on for 15 years).

It had built up to this point, and while I’m not experiencing massive amounts of pain or obviously breaking down, I know I’d be killing myself slowly and painfully if I continued.

Walking away from the session, I let my stomach fill with air, as much as it would take, and continued to let myself breathe like this.

It felt uncomfortable, because my normal had been to take up as LITTLE space as possible.

It felt uncomfortable letting my abdominal area COMPLETELY relax, letting my flesh press against my shorts, telling the world, that I am, indeed, not that lean, skinny, fit girl I so wished I could be.

It felt uncomfortable feeling so self-conscious.

And I also knew there was no other way to heal myself.

I had to let myself BE, like I’d learned to let all the other parts of my life and world to BE.

It’s definitely humbling.

But there’s a liberation in this whole thing.

There’s a feeling of BEING in my body and WANTING to be in my body,

and then FILLING it out completely,

ALLLLLLLLLL the way out to the edges.

There’s a feeling of declaring (silently lol) that THIS is how much space I take up and THIS is HOW I shall take up this space.

There’s a feeling of… relaxation,

an almost foreign feeling of a lack of tension, of push and pull, of trying trying trying,

after all the years of filling the void with effort and dissatisfaction.

It’s like an abyss of peace that I almost don’t know what to do with.

It’s a level of comfort that feels uncomfortable, and the only reason I keep choosing it, is because now I can feel the whole sucking in my stomach thing has actually been quite uncomfortable to my body, as my nervous system is telling me.


So, for the first time, in a decade and a half, I spent all day yesterday, breathing into my belly, taking up all the space, feeling the discomfort when I looked in the mirror,

and also ACTUALLY, feeling a deep appreciation for what my body looks like JUST LIKE IT IS.

I spent all day yesterday feeling the BEING-NESS of my body, feeling the space I take up, feeling the presence of me, in the absence of efforting.

It felt odd and refreshing.

Peculiar and liberating.

And it still feels that way.

I imagine it will feel that way in deeper and greater ways as I choose more and more to be, allow, breathe fully and deeply throughout all my body.

I feel immensely grateful to my body for its health and vitality,

for its inherent commitment to truth and well-being and freedom.

I feel immensely grateful for my journey, that I was able to come to this point,

able to be open to a truly longstanding and challenging lesson,

able to choose what feels good and better to me, with ease,

able to see things differently.

I feel immensely grateful for my PT (if you want a reference, just HOLLAAAA) who, with his hands, expertise, and knowledge, helped me see what I feared for so much of my life.

I feel immensely grateful for the sophomore girl that did her best to belong to the world and for all the versions of me since, seeking truth and freedom to the extent available to my awareness and consciousness.

I feel like I’m starting a new chapter, or rather, BOOK lol.

There’s something so deep and inherent about what I just learned and chose to integrate.

I feel like a lot of other things are going to evolve, dissolve, resolve.

Mostly, I’m glad to be in my body, as I am, the way I am.

It is enough.

It really is enough.

I’m liberated, mang.

I’ma be over here taking up ALLL the mf space I can take and welcoming my freedom belly to all of my mf life.

That is all.


Originally published at on June 18, 2021.