So the other day (from writing this) I had a bit of a meltdown on the way home from work. I was struggling a lot from earlier in the day and I simply couldn’t hold back the tears. I didn’t know what to do – I’d usually turn to my husband, but with his job, he’s (nearly) never available during these random outbursts. So I turned to my friend.
Part of me, admittedly, was hesitant as she – as some would put it – has “thin privilege” and I just didn’t feel that she could possibly understand what it’s like to be fat. However, as I’ve said before, even skinny girls deal with body shaming and I know that she has struggled with body image a lot and it’s taken her years to be happy with herself. Plus she’s my best friend – I love her and value her friendship and opinion. She is wonderfully intuitive and I knew that even though she may not understand where I’m coming from or what I’m going through, she has a way of looking at things and provides wonderful insight and perspective.
This is our conversation that happened:
- ME: I’m feeling very unworthy this afternoon. I’m on the bus on the way home from work and I’m almost in tears.
- HER: Oh no. Why?…. Say to yourself I AM worthy. Do it… Cause you are.
- ME: You made me cry… I made the mistake of going shopping and trying on clothes at lunch. I know I’ve put on weight over the past couple of years. I know according to my weight and measurements, by societies standards, I’m considered fat. But I’ve never FELT fat until today in that dressing room…. I know I got myself into this mess (with my body) but I had decades of shit to work out. I’m finally mentally ready but I feel like I’m still holding myself back and sabotaging myself…. I’m just so frustrated with myself and I’m trying not to be. I’m trying to be kind and have empathy with my body but I’m just tired!
- HER: In my honest opinion… hang on I have stuff to type but I’m driving and I want to say it right… I love you. You are beautiful. I will say more shortly.
- ME: ❤
- (75 min later) HER: This is coming intuitively… I know you have been promoting the whole love your body the way it is, but I don’t think you love your body all that much. I think it’s a belief you have set up to protect yourself. I think you feel that if you love your body the way it is, it’s a sign of healing…. I think you need to let go, stop the internal struggle and do what truly makes YOU happy. Who cares what those people on Instagram think, do it for you…. Honestly, I’m 135 lbs now, but it’s muscle. I love how I look. Would I love my body if that was all – I hate this word – but fat? No I wouldn’t. That doesn’t make me weak, it doesn’t mean I need to heal myself, it’s just what I like and what makes me happy and feel good…. I hope that makes sense – and it may not yet but just think about it…. I don’t even notice how you look. You are my bestie and I’ll ALWAYS love you for you, no matter what…. I just want you to be happy.
- ME: This is not completely incorrect and some of this I’ve realized a couple of weeks ago…. I came to realize that body love and body acceptance are not the same thing and I’ve been treating it as such. You can accept your body but not love it. And that’s okay. I’ve also realized that you can consciously diet without becoming victim to diet culture…. However, I also firmly believe that real lasting changes need tom come from a place of love, not hate. And I will always believe that I needed that time away from the gym because it was so connected to my eating disorders – and it gave me time to reflect. The hard part is that I know what I want and need to do – I just can’t physically do everything I want to do which has me frustrated – and that frustration is stopping me from doing anything – which is pissing me off…. I hate to say this, but Shannon is part of the problem. I base SO much of what I do (or, rather, DON’T do) on him and that’s a bad habit I’ve gotten into…. 2020 is going to be a big year for me – and I’m slightly scared. I know that I just need to let go and trust the process as there’s going to be a lot of (individual) growth. I know there’s going to be challenges with Shannon being gone for a good portion of the year, but it’ll also be good. Re-establish myself as an individual and not half of a relationship…. Thanks for taking the time with your response. I had a good cry and chat with Shannon – which is why it took so long to reply. I love you. I’m so blessed to have you in my life.
As I mentioned in the body of the conversation, this all started at lunch that Monday, We’re going to the ballet next week and I want it to be special; we don’t go out often and this is the first time to the ballet. I know what skirt I’m going to wear, but I’m struggling to find a top in my current wardrobe. I wanted to find something a little fancier – maybe with a little bling. I wandered down to Winners, grabbed a couple tops I liked, and a couple skirts – one I’d never normally wear but thought it could be fun. The other skirt is similar to the skirt I’m going to be wearing – so it was more to see what the tops look like with it. I hated everything – both the way the clothes looked on me and my body. Yes, it took a while for me to get used to my body and the weight gain, but, until today, I never hated how my body looks.
And this is where my belief system was challenged last month and I realized how wrong I had been over the past couple of years.
Accepting your body doesn’t mean you have to love it – or all of it – all the time.
Some days I’m perfectly happy with everything. The other day? Not so much. And that’s okay. Hell, even earlier that morning, I didn’t hate my body. I quite like my curves. And same thing when I got home from work – I had planned on going to the gym after my hubby got home from work – but after crying for so long, I had a migraine and didn’t go… but when I got home from work, I changed into gym clothes and even then, I didn’t hate my curves.
The biggest thing is that I’m not completely happy with how I look because it’s preventing myself from doing what I want. I DO want to lose weight – but not to conform into a society accepted shape or size. I KNOW losing weight will NOT make me happy, however doing the activities I want to do WILL make me happy! So, in a round-about way, losing weight will make me happy… does that make sense? The added weight is being detrimental to my health and it’s taken a while to notice it – or, more accurately, admit it. Now it’s all I see. From my blood pressure – which is at the higher range of normal, but it’s not too concerning yet. The problems I’m having with my knees I haven’t had for decades. All my joints, really – ankles and hips as well as the knees – for the past year. I thought it was from winter last year and slipping on ice pulling or straining something but it never went away during the summer. Like, seriously – they hurt doing yoga! My physiotherapist says no running – but, intuitively, that’s what I want to do! My joints don’t hurt when I run (unless I REALLY push myself) either during or after the run; I feel fine. Part of me wants to say “fuck it, I’m going to run” and just run – but be smart about it… but I haven’t decided yet…
The biggest thing, that I’ve been saying all along and will ALWAYS believe, is that changes HAVE to come from a place of love, not hate. So how does this happen when you accept your body but don’t love it? This is where one has to walk the tightrope. For me, and I think the part that is paralyzing me, is my fear of slipping into old ways; extreme dieting and obsessive exercise. As my husband said, I can do – HAVE DONE – some amazing things when I put my mind to it – the thing we need to do is harness that drive without the destruction. Ultimately, nothing is worth my peace of mind and mental health. Nothing.
Another thing I’ve always said, and is said everywhere, is that you can’t out-exercise a bad diet. Diet – what and how you eat – makes up 80% of how you look and (honestly) feel! If I eat too much of something that is high carb – whether from gluten, grains/legumes or sugar – I feel tired and lethargic. If I eat something primarily vegetables, fibrous carbs and lots of color, I am energized and happy. Unfortunately, I’ve been eating way more high carb than usual with lots of simple sugars and starchy carbs. Because of my mood and lack of energy – brought on by lack of exercise and poor diet – I’ve been relying too much on convenience foods – things like pasta, burgers and fries, gnocchi, etc. My husband has brought up portion size and though I’m better, I need some work – even for him!
I think the biggest thing – and hardest thing! – to remember is that we are all worthy of love and respect no matter where we are physically. We are more than our body and we should strive to accomplish more in life than to lose weight… because how fun would that be? Not very! I think most of us, at some point, have a feeling of being unworthy. I think it’s perfectly normal and can be healthy. Basically, after my meltdown and exchange with my BFF and chat with my husband, I told him that as long as action is taken to move me in a positive direction, then I don’t necessarily mind having a meltdown… though I could do without the migraine that usually accompanies it!
So what is my next course of action?
Stop relying on my husband and whether or not he’s going to go to the gym. He’s been working 10 hour days and he’s tired when he gets home. Don’t blame him for not wanting to go! So I need to go to the gym with or without him. His last day of work is 6 Dec, so after that it’ll be a non-issue. I’m at work the following week (9-13 Dec) so we’ll go to the gym after I get home from work. Then we have 3 weeks off together – or nearly so, until he goes to Basic Training on 4 Jan. While my husband is away – could be 7-8 months – I’ll be able to go to the gym as frequently and as long as I like, which I’m excited about.
I love my husband to bits – but as I told my (our) BFF, he is somewhat of the problem. I base a lot of what I do – and don’t do – on him. There’s plenty of things I want to do on the weekends that I often don’t do because he’s not interested in joining me. For him to be away for so long – yes, it’ll be challenging – but I think it’ll also be beneficial to re-establish myself as an individual. So many couples, I think, fall into this trap; you do everything together. Yes, that’s great, but you also need to have your own friends and own activities. After being married for over 23 years (this is our 28th Xmas together) it is very easy to have this happen. Our interests are each other’s interests. Our friends are each other’s friends. Like I said, this isn’t a bad thing, but it’s also healthy to have interests outside of each other. And our forced separation, I think, will be good.