I had an epiphany this morning. Well, it was more of a breakdown in my bathroom about 15 minutes ago. Could they be, in essence, the same? I guess that depends on the context. The definitions of Epiphany and Breakdown for me could also be cloudy, considering I have bounced back and forth between these thoughts and ideals with some intense speed lately.
Drinking my coffee this morning in my big red chair, curled up with a book, I found myself unable to concentrate. As I was trying to focus on the words so thoughtfully executed and placed on these pages, words I couldn’t wait to read because I love my book, my eyes kept glancing downward. It has become almost a pestering nervous tick. As I sat in my sweat pants and tank top (my every morning attire until my coffee is consumed and I can change to go work out) I kept seeing the bulge of fat that protrudes from my tummy. As I read, holding the book with my left and dominate hand, my right hand feels and squeezes with disgust these soft and squishy rolls. I know on a subconscious level that I always do this, whether looking at my stomach because it’s in the way, or feeling it as a form of self torture and reminder, I am brutally aware of it’s nagging presence. By squeezing it, I am hoping that it will magically go away.
I know this may sound vain. For some, these are issues of pure vanity. After what feels like way too much contemplation, I know this is not vanity. It is the highest form of self hatred which has mutated into a sick and life consuming insecurity. Hatred is simply a manifestation of anger. It is not completely clear to me why I am so angry and choose to express it this way. Let me rephrase that. This is by no means a choice. I didn’t choose this. I would never choose or wish this self torture on anyone. This not only affects me, but, everyone I love. Lately, I have been consumed with ‘getting better.’ I have posted many writings on my blog, one in particular, “Baggage Claim,” in which I reveal some helpful tools my therapist has giving me in an attempt to get through this bullshit I have been dealing with far too long.
Not only am I trying to overcome years of emotional and physical abuse, I am trying to learn how to love myself again. I say ‘again’ hesitantly because I cannot remember ever feeling an actual love for myself. It is of no wonder I spent 3 decades making poor choices. Most of you know that I graduated from a University with full intentions of making something of myself. Wherein, I became sidetracked in the name of love. Only to find myself in a downward spiral of addiction straight into the pits of hell. So back to the loving myself part. As I sat in the big red chair this morning silently hating myself because I wasn’t working out, I realized that I was, in fact, tired of being sick. I have a sickness. I want to get well. When you walk into your local coffee shop of choice, or even into your work place, do you see people in terms of fat or skinny? Ugly or pretty? Well, you shouldn’t. I don’t judge people in this way. I judge myself based on how I feel when I look at these people. Almost in a backwards way. I am more jealous of women who appear comfortable in their own chunky skin than I am of the women with the appearance of a perfect body. And who decides what is a perfect body anyway? Was it the man who decided to produce thousands of mannequins in replica of the 60’s model Twiggy? I know we are slowly evolving in this way. In fact, I read an article just 2 days ago about how David’s Bridal is soon to unveil mannequins that resemble real life women…thicker waists, smaller chests, back fat and all. But even in this over due evolution of fashion reality, the minds and self esteem of woman and young girls alike have been forever impressed upon. Mine included.
I also realized that if I am truly determined to have what I picture as the “perfect” body, then I need to stop screwing up on a daily basis by eating things that I am apparently not supposed to, what we often refer to as “bad” and “good” foods. Hence, feeling like shit and hating myself. If I truly want this ideal body more than anything in the world, which it has been a life long pursuit, I won’t even think twice at dinner while everyone else is enjoying a plate of Fettucine Alfredo as I eat my egg whites on whole grain toast and remain hungry. And then an hour later, when no one is looking, find myself in the kitchen eating ravenously whatever remains they left. Hence, hating myself even more. It’s like walking by the cookie jar and not being able to control myself. If I were truly determined to lose this extra 10 pounds that has haunted me since I was 19, I wouldn’t think twice about that fucking cookie jar. I would walk right past it, because it would mean nothing. Nothing would get in my way of my goal because I want it that bad. So do I not want it? Well, of course I want it. But do I want it that badly? If I did, I would be working out right now instead of sitting here at the computer writing about why I am not working out. I already had breakfast too, and I am still hungry.
You see, I am beginning to believe, (I have heard this a number of times from trustworthy sources but refused to listen), if I need superman strength will power, then I am simply not ready. I should be able to walk right by that cookie jar and not even care that it is there. Not stand in front of it, staring at it, willing it to disappear, feeling absolutely tortured by it. Eventually giving in and eating the cookie so fast that I forgot to taste it. Then saying “Fuck it” and eating everything else I see I am not supposed to have. And then, of course, hating myself even more. That is why diets have never worked. And for all the people thinking right now, “Oh it’s a life style change you need, not a diet.” I know that! I don’t diet. But I sure as hell try to make healthy choices. The difference between me and the other ‘health conscious’ people is that I am neither emotionally nor mentally healthy in this way. I am unable to maintain this lifestyle without becoming a monster of sorts, an obsessive monster.
The mind is a powerful thing. This can be taken in more than one way. I have the power in my mind to somehow find the strength to only eat certain foods. I have the strength to get up every morning and workout. I am a healthy person. Always have been. Physically anyway. How much effort, unhealthy effort I might add, I place on my appearance is taking away precious energy from my kids, my partner, my writing, and my life as a whole. If I were to stop obsessing about food and exercise, and just ate what I wanted, when I wanted, I bet after a while, it wouldn’t be such a big deal, and the extra 10 lbs. would just fall off of me. After a while, I bet walking by that cookie jar wouldn’t even phase me. And if I wanted a cookie I could have one, or not. And if I did choose to have one, I would enjoy every bite. Because tasting is far more enjoyable than cramming. I am carrying so much emotional baggage that it is physically impossible for me to lose weight. This brings a whole new meaning to ‘saddle bags.’ I cannot focus when I workout because my brain is in a thousand other places. My stress level about food is so high, I can’t even enjoy eating. It’s like the forbidden fruit. What the hell kind of existence is that?
I feel ugly on the outside because I feel ugly on the inside. I need to work on my insides. That should be my priority right now. My goal should not be to lose 3 inches around my waist, but to be okay with the 3 inches before I lose my mind instead. Nothing is more sexy than a woman comfortable in her own skin. Size 2 or 12. Beauty radiates from the inside out, not from the amount of iridescence in your eye shadow. Yes, when I feel beautiful, I am more comfortable and confident. But I am not going to beat myself up and hate myself because there are a couple rolls hanging over my jeans when I sit down. There are far more important details for me to be concentrating on right now. If I can work through my “issues,” I will eventually know that I am beautiful and it’s importance will lessen and my happiness will grow.
What is going to happen if and when I lose those 10 pounds? Am I magically going to become the happy person I have always imagined? Am I going to stop counting calories and obsessing over my pinchable fat? No, I won’t. I know from years of experience, that this will never end. So I am going to end it. Well, I am going to try. My mind might be too powerful and I might not be able to will power myself out of this. Sounds a little backwards, doesn’t it? But I think a little back peddling is exactly what the doctor ordered.
People can tell me that I am beautiful all day long, but if I’m not feeling it, I’m not feeling it….no matter what I look like, I am not going to believe a word you say. The compliment goes in and just as quickly as I heard it, I dismiss it, because I don’t believe it. I have always been considered an attractive person, inside and out. The people who find my looks pleasing have no idea how absolutely broken I am. I cover it up with a pretty smile. Well where has that landed me? Here. Right here on the corner of “I hate myself” and “I can’t do this anymore.” No one can convince me or flatter me enough into being all better. Flattery is but a temporary band aid. I need a tourniquet right now. And that is only going to come from hard work by me and only me. Not physical hard work, but some serious internal surgery. As I got up from my book with uncontrollable tears streaming down my cheeks, I made it to the bathroom before anyone could see me (like it would be mind blowing at this point for my kids to see me a disaster) and cried how I needed to cry. I placed my hands on the counter and forced myself to look up. I have a habit of looking down. I watched myself heave and made myself witness the wreck I was. I looked at my arms and my stomach, I even turned and looked at myself from the side as soon as I could let go of the counter. I am not that bad, I thought. I am not one for self affirmations. I am not going to lie to myself in the mirror only to hate myself more, because I am obviously telling myself bullshit. I can’t talk my way into a size 4. I can, however, look at myself in the mirror and try and accept that it is okay to look the way I look. This is me. And after 20 years I am still the same. My weight may fluctuate 30 pounds in either direction, but it always goes back. That’s okay. If I freak out every time I gain a couple pounds and constantly strive for an unattainable perfection, I will never be happy. And I will have wasted an entire lifetime doing this. I don’t want to miss another meal with my kids because I am preoccupied counting calories. I am beautiful just the way I am. And in knowing this, I am going to experience freedom and those 10 pounds are going to fly right off the top of my shoulders.
I am not dissatisfied with my appearance. It is the unrealistic expectations society has placed on me, which I have therefore transferred onto myself that cause me to be dissatisfied. It’s not so easy to just brush off these unrealistic images that are splattered all over bill boards and the internet. They hit you upside the head when you are not paying attention. They are absorbed into the deepest part of you without your knowledge. Unless, of course, you are equipped from a young age to be aloof to this bullshit. I was not equipped with that knowledge and mindset. And if I don’t knock this nonsense off now, my daughter will end up like me. So far, she is doing all right. But nearing the age of 12, it’s time to consider what I am showing her. It’s one thing to look healthy, but it’s another to BE healthy. In fact, they can be polar opposites such as in my case. She is going to love who she is no matter what the suggested standard of beauty is in the check out line.