You guys, the thing about it all is … my story isn’t all that unusual. And, of course, lots of people have it way worse, right? I always feel like I have to lead with that.
Although, I will say that I’m also kind of tired of people feeling like they have to minimize their issues because someone had it “worse,” too. Someone will always have had it worse, but I don’t think that’s a reason for us to not share. To not work on it. To not try to find a way to relate.
So, I guess I’ll start by saying I don’t have a diagnosed eating disorder. I am obese, but I’m not morbidly obese (yet). There are days when I look in the mirror and I see a beautiful smile, or like my eyes are standing out.
Most days, though, I avoid mirrors at all cost. I am your classic “before” picture of every weight-loss story you’ve ever seen. My belly is big; I’m often mistaken for being pregnant. If I’m not “sucking it in” as I pass a mirror, I feel this pang of…
There’s no mistaking that feeling, that disdain for myself. I channel everyone’s disgust for me in these quick glimpses in the reflection from a window, or the side of a car.
Recently I was riding in the car with my husband, and I happened to see myself in the side-view mirror. I know this seems horrible, and ridiculous, but I had this fantasy right then of having a knife or something and just cutting my belly fat right off (I mean, I wouldn’t do it, but some fancy doctor would, and I’d wake up 2 days later with a flat stomach and a Gap credit card).
I’m uncomfortable all day long. I am always tugging at my shirt, to make sure it’s covering my post c-section plus extra weight belly flap, I’m always pulling my pants up to try to hold my belly fat in. I’m trying to sit up straight to look thinner, I’m putting up with being hot because I need that cardigan to cover myself up.
I stand in front of students all day long, and I am acutely aware that they can see me from all angles, and I’m so grateful they are little kids so hopefully they aren’t thinking about it (although, I did get asked why I only wear the same 3 pairs of paints this week, so…).
I’m uncomfortable and out of place in conversations at school about weight loss and about clothing. I wear plus-size clothes and so when people talk about shopping, all I can think of is that I don’t fit into anything there. During lunch when people bring up dieting, it’s all I can do to not stand up and walk out because I don’t want to talk about it while I’m eating.
The thing about it is, I have not been honest with myself and with other people about my weight and my weight issues. And I think, for me, it’s more than just portion size or calorie intake, or whatever.
When I was a small child, my parents fought. A lot. All the time. And when my sister left for the army and I was the only one that was there, I became pretty sad. I spent a lot of time at the library, and a lot of time in my room, with the door locked, listening to music. I developed anxiety about a lot of things. As an adult, I’ve been told that living with someone like my father initiates a constant “fight-or-flight” reaction and I’ve never really gotten over that.
When I was in 4th grade, I started wearing shirts over my swimsuit. In 8th grade, when I was chosen to be drum majorette, I can remember sobbing in a practice room in the band room because the only drum majorette skirt they had wouldn’t go around me no matter what I did. My grandma had to sew me a new one.
As a freshman I was chosen to be on a leadership team, and if I could have, I would have locked myself in a bathroom rather than do the stupid team-building activities where you have to give each other piggy back rides. I was so afraid no one could lift me.
And here’s what I told myself: you’re not a terrible eater. You aren’t the fattest person in the room. Don’t worry. It’ll be ok.
But, after 3 pregnancies, one that resulted in twins who died after birth, and a LOT of emotional eating, and 5 different kinds of anxiety medication (trying to find the right one) and hormone issues and a $1,000 worth of doctor visits that resulted in me GAINING 12 pounds in 6 weeks when I was supposed to be losing, I am at an impasse.
I’ve been here before, of course. I’ll decide: this is it. I’ve had it. I am NOT doing this anymore. I’m done. I’m getting healthy for ME. And it doesn’t last. It doesn’t work. I have no willpower, maybe. Or I’m “too busy.” Or whatever else it is that I tell myself, here is where I am at:
I don’t love myself enough.
There are lots of things I do love about myself, surely, but I do not love my body. I don’t love my face. And I have given it my best-I’ve told myself it’s no big deal. I should be happy the way I am. I have a husband that loves me. Like 40% of the world is overweight now; I fit right in.
But, somewhere in the back of my mind, there is this nagging that reminds me that I’m less than. I didn’t get the luck in the genes and metabolism department. I eat through my emotions. And now, on top of it all, all I can think about is the same thing happening to my own kids.
I worry about what and how we eat. I think about it WAY too much, but don’t DO anything about it. I can’t afford it, I don’t have time, they are picky and won’t eat the healthy stuff.
My worrying spikes my anxiety, and my anxiety makes me eat. I think, think, think about it but I never DO anything about it. I feel so lost and so clueless and it hurts.
So, here’s what I know:
- This is the one major thing in my life that I have not been able to overcome (yet) through strength and determination. I feel like a failure. It’s a constant, visible reminder that I lost the fight.
- Everything I’ve ever accomplished that matters, I’ve had to do it by setting many goals.
I don’t want you to worry-this blog will not become a blog chronicling my weight loss. In fact, you probably won’t hear much about it again, unless I’m in the mood to talk about my shortcomings. And I swear to not post before and after pictures of myself should I actually happen to lose some of this weight.
But, here’s what I will ask of you, especially if you are my friend in real life:
*Please don’t invite me to dinner. Let’s go for a walk, or have coffee, or just browse at the bookstore. Let’s go to the movies and NOT get popcorn or candy.
*Please don’t comment on the nutritional value of what I eat in front of you.
*Please, if you can, stop mentioning how thin you are, or what size you wear. It messes me up in the head, yo. I start thinking about how much bigger I am than you.
*I’m asking you to understand that this is SO mental for me-it feels so much bigger than I am, and it’s scary. Because if I say I’m going to do it, I don’t want to flake out.
*If I see you at the Weight Watchers meetings I’m about to join, I’d kinda rather not talk to you. I wish there were a way I could make sure I could be anonymous or something. I know that sounds harsh, but my anxiety is already in overload.
*Please just love me, even if this all sounds stupid and made up or if you think I’m just lazy, which is why I’m fat.
Whew. Ok, it felt good to get that out there. What have you struggled with that you feel like you haven’t been able to beat?