How being fat ruined everything
Im obviously pretty awesome. I mean, cmon Im charming, occasionally I say something hilarious, I have serious, farm-hand like calf muscles and Im really good at growing my fingernails long. Whats not to like?
But I havent always known this. And to be honest, I still dont always behave like I do.
For as long as I can remember I have had concerns about my body, and by concerns I mean I was plagued with constant thoughts about it. My earliest memory of this was at 4 knowing I wasnt thin enough to realize my dream of becoming a ballerina. I was teased in elementary school. I remember every singletime we had to climb the rope in gym class (I never did, and I was so acutely aware that my body couldnt possibly do that, that I didnt really even try and no one encouraged/made me). I remember the face each person was making when they called me a pig or oinked at me like it was a still frame in a low budget after school movie. I recall every comment that could be even slightly construed as negative an ex boyfriend has ever made about my body. I remember crying. A lot.
Also, I have had an amazing life. I dont want to drone on about the opportunities Ive had or amazing people Ive known along the way but in spite of the last passage things were pretty fantastic. Sure, Ive had my share of tragedy. No one gets out of life unscarred. But I mean to say that I have also walked on the sunny side of the street, I just missed out on so much of it. But I didnt miss a nano-second of the dark stuff.
Heart ache, for example, I didnt dare miss that. I could write an amazing dark comedy about all the dumb relationship decisions Ive made. Strange ass behavior trying to figure out if I didnt measure up, who did? While I know that dating a Mr. Wrong or getting let down and feeling awful are par for the growing-up course, I was like a moth to a flame to any situation that de-valued me. It was both validating to hear I wasnt good enough (it meant I was right about that, too) and intoxicating to try to be. If only I can convince this guy Im worthy of love, I will be. And while certainly not every failed relationship or life failure had anything at all to do with my weight, I always secretly knew it did. The same dark corners of my mind that knew I would never do ballet, reminded me I wouldnt ever measure up because my body didnt. When something did work out I would immediately try to lose weight, this man/job/thing that is going better than expected has taken a chance on me, I should lose this weight so I can keep it.
And you know that sounds ridiculous, doesnt it? Or does it when the incredibly smart, compassionate, enjoyable first lady of the United States of America is subject to ridicule about her body every time she is on prime time television? When actors get together for an awards ceremony to celebrate things like lifetime achievement in their art and there are entire shows dedicated to ripping apart their appearances. When a female celebrity goes through the life transforming event of carrying a child and becoming a mother, and as a country our primary concern is how quickly she will lose the baby weight. When women everywhere scoff at and say rude things in their heads or under their breath when a more slender woman than they is in the room get together and talk shit on mutual friends who lost weight. freely judge the too thin with feigned concerns about health throwing stones like were not all having this same experience.
I am ever so thankful for all the blessings in my life. I only wish that I had not carried this ridiculous cloud around over myself for so many years. I missed out on reallyexperiencing so much. I dove head first into the painful moments and set up camp. I literally hid myself away for a semester. I secretly vomited after meals in college for months. I was surrounded by great friends who cared, but even great friends grow weary when something is always wrong. All because I couldnt live in my body.
Okay hippymoonflower, what do you mean you couldnt live in your body??
When you are convinced that the size and shape of your ass determines your worth, you are at war with yourself. You have places on your body (stomach, most common) that even those you are intimate with are not allowed to touch. You avoid looking in mirrors when you are naked like some crazy horror movie character might pop out. You cut the size out of all of your clothes because you cant bare the thought that someone else might see that number. As if cutting it out changed it somehow. Maybe you eat in secret. Maybe you try crazy diets. Maybe you feel best when youre hungry and not eating. You live by a completely different set of rules than others, and it inhibits things like enjoying the hell out of your life. You walk around mentally separating yourself from the physical vessel you are in.
I did all of those things in a desperate attempt to heal my life-long unforgivable flaw: I was overweight. I couldnt bare the weight of my own insecurity and I sought affirmation elsewhere.
Boooo! Right? Me and all my fabulous needed someone else to decide I was good enough. None of that hurts like it used to, but now it worries me for my baby.
Sure, there were bullies. Some people behave like assholes. Ive had some bad break ups. Yet not one of those things would have been so bad if I had ever learned to hold my head up. If I knew I was an amazing woman worthy of being treated well, I wouldnt have agreed with people who teased me. I wouldnt have needed to prove my worth to those who didnt see it. And while Im sure I would have had my share of feeling badly, I wouldnt have wallowed there.
The primary shift that happened when I empowered myself to live in my own body is I was no longer being ruled by insecurity. This profound change impacted my everyday life and happened, not when I started getting healthy, but when I believed I could. When I made the decision that I was worthy of my time, attention and love, everything changed.
*There is plenty of my backstory elsewhere, but I lost a lot of weight after having a daughter, not wanting to teach her to hate herself.*
I dont feel sad about how long I held on to that horrible insecurity crutch so much as I feel grateful to not live with it anymore. And while I still have moments, sometimes more regularly than not, when I find myself concerned I might not measure up I now know how to confront those demons. I am in charge of my life. I live in my body. I know exactly how big every part of me is and I allow myself to inhabit it. Im allowed to take up space. Im allowed to love myself. And not just the insides that count. Every fucking part of me is worthy of love. Its all good enough. It is reminding myself regularly of that, that allows me be the person I was meant to be, and not the shell of her who shows up when insecurity wins.
Relate? Im willing to bet you might. Even if for you it wasnt about being obese.
It is embarrassing to admit in a completely public way that I have been exceedingly unaware of my own worth in ways that have marred my decision making dramatically. But someone needs to talk about this shit before it infects another generation of girls.
Well, I think its time, if you havent already, that you decide you are worth your own time, energy and love.
For me that meant taking good care of my body with healthy foods, regular exercise I enjoy, letting go of negative people and lots and lots and lots of positive self talk. And yes, I may occasionally speak to myself like a new age guru self help book, but the confidence I have learned to restore is more than worth it. Most importantly to me, my baby girl has a Mommy who walks around mad comfortable in her own skin and proud of who she is. Any work I have to do to continue to give that to my daughter I will do any day of the week.
I saw a blog post floating around recently where a woman was apologizing to her body. I havent read it yet but I love the sentiment. If I were to write something similar it would probably simply read: You are capable of amazing things. You deserve to treat yourself well. You are good enough now. You always have been.
Those things are true about you, too. If you dont know that yet, spend some time thinking about it. Give yourself space to travel back to hurtful moments and feel that pain if you need to. Burying it away isnt helpful either. Grieve for the younger you and the mistakes you made. And then work everyday to change the story you are telling yourself about you. You are capable of more than you know. You just have to believe it.
Think of all the things you would do if you knew you couldnt fail and stop telling yourself the story of your future failures. Youre the shit, girl.
And for heavens sake, there are little girls everywhere and we are who they have to look up to. I know I cant shield my daughter from heart break, disappointment, bullies or the pains of growing up. But I can arm her with confidence she has been learning not just through my words and actions toward her, but those toward myself. Its the best defense against everything that tells us we will never be quite good enough, and Im the best woman to teach it to her.
Being fat didnt really ruin everything. Believing that being fat meant failure sure did lead me to miss out on a lot of good. And walking around inhabiting every part of yourself beats the hell out of the alternative.
Its time to break this cycle, get honest with ourselves about where weve been and move forward knowing we are good enough.