For a long time now I’ve struggled with my weight and self image. It didn’t become a thing in my mind until I was riding the bus home from middle school and these kids just teased me about everything. What I wore, my weight, the fact I hadn’t started shaving my legs yet. Things that I had never been confronted about before.
Generally speaking, until I started riding the school bus I’d never been teased or bullied or anything like that. I was (and according to some, I still am in a sense) an intimidating yet charismatic child. I made good grades, I worked hard, had a hard line of morality, and had the favor of nearly every adult I came across. In school itself I wasn’t teased, life was pretty normal. So really I had a great middle school experience, something most of my friends now were not blessed with. But getting on the bus, that was an entirely different experience for me.
I’ve always been that child that responded really well to positive reenforcement and negative reactions from the people I cared for curbed my behaviour problems almost immediately. (I refer to myself as a child still, even though I’m in my 30’s because I don’t have children of my own, I’m not going to be married for much longer, and I’m living with my parents again. For all intents and purposes, child is still my primary role in my family.)
Anyway! Being thrust into a new realm of disapproval did nothing for my self-esteem, and as most women are won’t to do, I started eating more to cope with the stress, thereby making me larger, thereby prompting other people to tell me they are worried about my weight, creating more stress and the cycle continuing. I had gotten to like, 200lbs by the time I was in the 7th grade. Then puberty hit in the 8th grade and I went back down to 150lbs. But then, by the time I made it into High School, my family’s history with mental illness reared it’s ugly head. Of course at the time, I didn’t realize that was what was going on.
I was desperate for alleviation from the frustration, the sadness, the overwhelming waves of stress and got into all kinds of things I shouldn’t have; that’s a topic for another day though. Over the course of the next 15 years my weight fluctuated up and down (mostly up) until right before I got married last year and I hit 360lbs. All the while I was hating myself more and more for the way I looked. And mentioning another topic for another day, it wasn’t until I started walking the path of repentance and let the saviors’ atonement into my life that I started to see myself differently.
I looked in the mirror one day and thought to myself, “Dang! Look at that cutie pie in the mirror there.” And I genuinely meant it. I was heavier than ever before in my life and I finally, finally felt comfortable with the way that I looked. It was such a relief to take the metaphysical yoke of self-loathing I’d been carrying around and finally be able to set it down.
The downside to all of this is of course the medically terrible shape my body was in. I’ve been blessed with fantastic blood pressure, diabetes(which runs rampant in my family) hasn’t even showed up as a blip in my life, and while my cholesterol is looking a little rough it’s not in the ‘OMG you need medication to help correct this’ range. However; I messed up both of my knees in High School being stupid, the right knee has a tendency to still freak out and give up on me, the left one is constantly grinding against itself. So all the extra weight I was carrying around hurt my knees like mad, add to that because my knees hurt I wasn’t walking properly I managed to cause all kinds of back pain that probably would have been permanent had it not been for the timely intervention of my spiritual twin and his God-like hands working out the giant knot my lower back had become.
The point of all that is to say that, even though I was finally so happy with the way I looked, I couldn’t maintain that kind of weight and still be expected to get around the house. I was quickly edging into that realm of so morbidly obese that you become bedridden. That’s something I’ve always, always been afraid of becoming. So I set myself on the path of bringing my weight back down to safer zones.
Over the course of just a few months I managed to loose 30lbs and then I plateaued and spent a lot of time at 330. Finally I was able to go see a doctor about getting some help for this, because I was seriously sick of being in constant pain. And I started on a medication combination that (another topic for another day) put the last straw of hay on the camels’ back and overwhelmed my husband’s ability to cope with me any more. But, it helped break me off the plateau and I’ve lost another 12lbs.
Now, I’m not completely out of pain. I still find my knees locking up and my back telling me to sit my fat self down somewhere and give it a break. But before I couldn’t make it from the car to the door of Walmart without wanting to cry, and now I can make it through most of a day long wander about town before my body starts crying. That to me is the real goal.
Weight loss is great and all, but who cares how much you weigh? I know it doesn’t matter to me so much, it’s more like setting markers for future rewards than progress to be proud over. But how much am I able to go out an enjoy life? How long am I able to go on a walk with a friend? How long can I got out and catch Pokemon with my momma? There’s no point to the number on the scale or how much you like the way you look if you cannot enjoy life.
That’s a bit contradictory to say when you are of the persuasion to keep holed up in your room while depression hammers you into the ground, but on the off good day it’s important to be able to go outside and soak up what life you can get your hands on; if your body is physically preventing that then you’re never going to find your balance.
Now, today I’m feeling pretty cute, but that’s not the norm for me. I’m no longer comfortable with the way I look. I don’t think I look cute on a normal basis. I look in the mirror and wonder where that adorable pillow girl has gone. I’m still obese. I’m still larger than almost everyone I associate with. I’ve only gone down one clothing size. But I’m back to not being able to stand the way I look. I look back at old pictures of myself when I weighed 150lbs and I think to myself, “You thought you were fat but you weren’t, you were just not formed in the way you find visually appealing.” and I worry that when I get to that healthy weight again, am I still going to hate the way I look? Or is a miracle going to happen and maturing into a woman has changed the shape of my body enough that I don’t look the same as I did?
I know I’m not alone. I know there are other women who struggle with the way they look; before, during, and after a weight loss journey is so freaking hard. We look to the motivational blogs hoping to keep our heads up, but I feel like someone out there needs to be reminded that getting discouraged, not only with the process but also with how we look is so stinkin’ common that it’s just plain normal. You aren’t strange for feeling like a failure all the time when it comes to becoming more healthy. Those of us out there who are suicidal and trying to become more healthy so we can live better lives we don’t even want are desperately clinging to other people’s hopes for us to live better, trying not to be a disappointment to everyone around us. And while reaching goals and rewarding ourselves is nice and all, there’s a vicious cycle going on that we try to cover up and only show the best parts of ourselves, to ourselves.
Living with a metaphorical aching whole in my chest is hard. Loosing weight is hard. Liking the way I look is hard. I often wonder what I’m even doing! All I know is that I want to be healthy, I want to not hate myself, and I want the people I love to be proud of me.
I’m sure you can relate.