Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Struggle to Love Myself

My struggle with my weight has been a big part of my life, as I imagine it is for most people. I have been "fortunate" I suppose, in that I have not gotten truly fat, but that doesn't make much difference in terms of self-esteem, unfortunately.

I was always a very skinny child, on the lower end of the growth chart. When I turned 12, I weighed 95 pounds. I was 5'2" or thereabouts, as I am that height now. I grew a (lovely) pair of 34D breasts that year, which came with the predicted taunts from my 12 year old male classmates. They actually started calling me "BI" for "Breast Implants" because out of the blue they noticed that I had breasts. At the time I was also measuring my bra size wrong, so I thought I was a 36B, but my actual measurements in that area didn't change until I was pregnant with J. Anyway, that summer, I got my first period. At the start of 8th grade, I still weighed 95 pounds. By the end of that school year, I was 13 and weighed 125 pounds. My eating habits hadn't changed other than the weight gain made me experiment with bulimia (not my thing, fortunately) and anorexia, though I was no good at being hungry all the time. Since I couldn't do anything about my weight gain, I turned my stress and self-loathing into cutting myself. Around this time, my stepfather started making remarks about my weight gain, saying things like he could picture me as a really fat teenager munching on candy. My boyfriend at the time dumped me *through a mutual friend* and had the friend tell me I'd shrunk and gained 30 pounds. Lovely. Middle school boys are pieces of shit.

I continued to struggle with my weight for the next few years. Marching band helped a bit, since I was super active, but that still didn't make me feel any better about the tummy I'd developed. One of my best friends joked that I must be pregnant because I was always covering my stomach with my arms. (Wow, my friends were really shitty. Huh.) Anyway. Then when I was 15, my step cousin molested me. Actually, if you define rape as "penetration of any sort" you could say he raped me. Repeatedly. He threatened to go after my little brothers if I didn't let him do these things to me. During the day he called me a fat pig and told me I was ugly, but at night he would sneak into my room and do what he did. Thank God he walked in front of a train and is burning in hell now. It took me about a year of biweekly therapy sessions to get past the shit he pulled. I still get upset about it. UGH.

I felt ok about my weight, but not confident enough to bare much skin in the summer by the time all that happened. I estimate that I still weighed around 120 pounds. I hated my body, in large part because of what the cousin did and said, and because I felt that it was my fault. However, my first serious boyfriend and I started dating a few months into my sophomore year of high school, and I discovered that making out made me feel good. Really good. Matt loved my body and my curves, and he loved to kiss me. That was all that mattered. I felt good with him, until I got hit hard in the depression department. I made the mistake of asking him to be my shrink, and I lost him. Less than 2 months later, I met C.

I slowly began to regain control of my life, and by the time I was a senior in high school I was staying up til 2 or 3am every week night doing homework, and getting up at 5 to take my sister to choir practice before school. I lived on gas station coffee. I lost so much weight that I actually got down to 102 pounds. I started to love my body again.

In college I gained the "Freshman 15" and started going to the gym. On my wedding day I weighed 120 pounds and loved my body. In graduate school, I gained another 5 pounds. I started going to therapy and was formally diagnosed with anxiety and depression when I turned 23. At about this time I actually got measured for a bra and found out that I'd been wearing the wrong size for 10 years, that I was actually a 34D, not a 36B. I suddenly was very proud of my boobies. I took MacGuyver running and on walks every day. I really felt like I was getting a grip on things and decided that I didn't want a PhD after all. Writing my master's thesis, I gained 10 more pounds. Then we moved back to Colorado and I got pregnant with J. You've already "heard" the rest of the story if you've been reading long.

There you go. I don't love my body now. I don't hate it as I used to, but I don't love it. I *do* love my breasts, but that's about it. I hate my stomach, and the fact that I've been asked if I'm pregnant about 4 times since J was born, just because I had a little bit of a tummy. I'm trying to love my body, but it's hard. I keep finding things to be critical of. I'm trying to turn my insecurity into motivation to exercise and tone up, but that's not working very well. It's hard. And unless you're insane or anorexic, telling yourself that "nothing tastes as good as skinny feels" is just plain WRONG and it won't work.

I think that's enough rambling for tonight....

1 comment:

Katie said...

I'm really sorry you had to go through all of that. Adolescence is never easy, even without everything that you endured, so I can't imagine how hard that must have been. The important thing is that you have addressed your issues and while you're not "perfect" you are able to accept yourself!