I have written this entry about ten times over the last couple months. Some come off really angry, and some don’t express what I’m trying to say in the right way. I put it off for a little bit. I have struggled for a majority of my life with my body. I spent a lot of time mad at it and, of course then, mad at myself. I stopped posting photos and talking about my weight loss and such because I got too caught up in pleasing everyone else (because they “expected” me to lose weight and I fed into the “likes” and encouragement) and it just fed this body dysmorphia and disordered eating habits I already had. For the longest time, I bounced between over exercising and under eating, to overeating and hating myself afterwards. I have been praised for my “two-a-days”, when it actually was a very maladaptive approach to trying to change my body. I lost a lot of weight during that time, and I’m currently at 135 pounds (61-ish kgs) gone. You would think that I would be happy and that my life would have magically changed from that and it didn’t, until recently.
There has always been this concept of beauty and perfection that I have been chasing after since I was in my early teens. I wouldn’t allow myself to do certain things, I hid behind all black clothing, or clothes that didn’t fit well, in order to be ignored in the crowd. I stayed in the back of classes at the gym. I have yet to get to this mold I thought my body had to fit before I could finally be me.
Two months ago, my best friend sent me this video talking about this very struggle. People who have never struggled with significant weight loss (or any form of body dysmorphia/disordered eating), don’t really understand that there isn’t this switch that’s flipped and suddenly everything is right in the world. When I lost my first 100 pounds, life wasn’t much different than when I weighed 100 pounds more. Yes, I could walk upstairs without feeling like I was going to die. I didn’t have to figure out how to pass off pajama pants as real pants because they hadn’t invented a size for me yet (this was the early 2000s). I didn’t allow myself to go for something, because I was still fat. Now I’m on the cusp of my mid-30s and I am finally learning how to chip away at this feeling that my body right now, is not enough and reveal the part of me that is happy with me.
Before now, I rarely celebrated any event or accomplishment in my life, because of my body. I had been fed a lie that these mean nothing until everything is perfect, including my body. I started to brush them off as something everyone does, which only hurt me, not anyone else. I have missed out on opportunities and relationships because I have been too afraid to put myself out there. I'm not really introverted, I'm afraid of messing up. There is this immense fear that if I say something stupid, or not funny, or anything like that, that it all comes down to being the fat girl. It's just been easier to do things on my own, because I then don't have to worry about what other people are thinking. In reality, I'm the only person who is thinking that much about it.
It comes down to shame. Of course I've been bullied and shamed for many reasons, and I don't blame them, I blame myself for believing what they said. I can't name a female role model in my life that hasn't shamed herself. It's not her fault, we all bought the shame.
So I’ve decided that I am going to embrace who I am now, forgive myself of what was, and move forward as me. I'm turning away the shame. It's time to be proud of who I am, what I’ve done, where I’m headed, and what my body looks like. Perfection has never been a requirement, we’ve just desired it. We have believed computer programs and all mainstream media to think that we have to be in a box of some sort. I can’t keep living in shadows, who am I not to shine? I need to celebrate the changes I see, rather than the parts that I’m not happy with. I’m trying things, even though there’s a possibility of failing.
This last year in Cambodia has really taught me a lot. I’ve learned that all my dreams are possible, even if they take a while. I’ve learned to appreciate what my body CAN do, rather than what it LOOKS like.The pieces will fit together eventually. I’m lifting heavier than I ever have; I’m feeling better in the gym. I’ve learned that everything is really just mind over matter. I’m not going to spend my 30's hating myself and my body.