Can you say ‘I love myself’ and mean it? Do you wish for self-love? This piece reveals the struggles with weight gain & the pursuit to live more healthily.
Lately, I’ve found myself struggling with self-loathing. It’s hard to say aloud or even to type, in part because putting a label to the hollow, aching feeling I get in my stomach when I think about it makes me feel guilty. Guilty for having these melodramatic feelings when so much worse could be happening to me. Guilty for my failure as a feminist, embracing the culture of body positivity for every body but the one I own. Guilty for the body I’m trying so desperately not to hate, because it is a shape of my own making. Guilty that I find it difficult to love myself today.
There’s no wrong way to have a body. – Glenn Marla
I have never been, and honestly will likely never be, a skinny woman. The women in my family are built with curves and, even at my thinnest, I’d have to cut bones off to be a size six. I’m a long way from that now, though. I’ve gone from plump, to fat, to obese. Some of my weight gain can be attributed to when I cycled back into depression a few years ago (hello, eating my feelings). And some that I can probably lay at the feet of the medication I use to keep my brain chemistry in check.
Please don’t get me wrong, I’d rather be fat and happy than go back to a point where most mornings I’d wake up wondering if there was a point to getting up. Wondering whether I shouldn’t just hide under the covers and curl up around the empty feeling in my chest.
I’d like to be able to say I love myself and mean it–to stop looking at pictures of myself and recoiling in disgust. I’d like to put on my coat, to meet one of my many beautiful friends, without thinking, “Why am I such a fat, dumpy hag muffin?” I want to stop wondering what strangers are thinking about my body by imagining mean words in their heads, like like the ones I hear in mine. I want to end the burden of having to drown out the voice in my head that tries to tell me I don’t deserve food. Most of all, I’d like to feel strong and healthy again.
The last bit has been especially hard, because just when I started taking concerted steps to–at the very least–feel better about the way I view & treat my body (including to love myself unconditionally), I suffered a major setback. Perhaps seemingly small at first glance, but the repercussions have really started to add up. Just as I developed a satisfying morning workout routine, focused on getting back into the habit of exercising and on getting a little stronger every day, I badly injured my ankle at roller derby. Unfortunately, healing is taking longer than I’d hoped and therefore has become an additional challenge–as if I need discouragement. In one annoying accident, the ability to take the steps I’d planned to feel better about my body and finally believing I was making a sincere effort with hopes of seeing & feeling the results, have been squashed like an innocently grinning jack-o’-lantern in a garbage compressor.
In the meantime, I need to keep reminding myself that, even though I’m not rocking my roller skates or feeling it with the free weights, I am working on loving myself in other ways. I am trying to make healthier food choices. I am not letting self-doubt stop me from going out and spending time with my beautiful, kind friends who love me better than I can love myself right now. I am trying to treat myself with the same love, without the judgemental attitude, that I regularly extend to others.
It isn’t easy. There isn’t a quick fix. It’s a work in progress, and I just need to keep moving forward.