Saturday, January 18, 2014

Too Fat and Back- a glimpse of my journey of acceptance and healing

Hello friends!!!!  It has been way too long.  I have taken a break from my writing to focus on a few things that I was working through.  My mamma always said if you can't say anything nice then don't say anything at all.  Sage advice that I have followed these last few months.  I must say I have missed you all so very much.  I cannot let so much time elapse between our chats again.

Warning- this is going to be a very personal blog, maybe the most currently personal I've ever posted.  I would ask that you understand that this is my story, which I have hesitated in writing for the past year and a half.  My counselor told me that when I was ready to share, I should; that this would be healing not only for me but for others out there who have walked a similar path.  This is written not to wound but to heal.  Unfortunately, others have been a part of this journey (for good or ill); I will try my best to protect them but I will no longer be shamed into silence.

A year and half ago I wrote a blog about being fat ( read here   I thought after that blog that I had exercised my fat demons. I thought I was whole.  I was wrong.
The church I wrote about, we did leave.  The story of why is long and convoluted.  It involved a lot of hurt and brokenness for both my husband and I.  We had loved our church and the people we worshiped with.  We weren't planning on leaving but a circumstance arose that put me in a position where I could either stay silent about something I felt was very wrong or I could address it (with the appropriate people).  I, being the meek and mild mannered person that I am, tried to address it.  My thoughts on the subject were not appreciated, as I was told in no uncertain terms.  In the midst of this, heart wrenching conversation, someone I loved and respected very much, looked at me and said  "The only thing I see when I look at you is your weight".  Of all the things said that night, that crushed my spirit.  I had been fat shamed straight out of God's house and it took me over a year to be able to go back.
The person who said that to me, did me a HUGE favor (I'm not even being sarcastic).  What was said as an off the cuff, hurtful, barb, eventually drove me into counseling.  My whole life I have lived life ashamed of my body, ashamed of who I am on the outside.  I tried every diet imaginable, to no avail.  I prayed, fasted, exercised, tried to starve myself (I make a lousy anorexic, it just wouldn't take), tried to make myself throw up (it seems I have very little in the way of a gag reflex, so I failed at bulimia too), I even tried diet pills.  I berated myself and was berated by others.
The stories of what made me hate myself are numerous.  Once as a young girl, I was wearing a spaghetti strapped shirt as we went out to dinner with friends (a BIG treat in a large family with limited funds).  I was excited and thought I looked pretty cute.  While eating someone looked over at me and told me my arms were too fat.  I shouldn't wear shirts without sleeves. On my eleventh or twelfth birthday'  I was told that I was too fat to have a birthday cake; they were just looking out for me you know.  I was made to weigh myself and record my weight on a chart in our bathroom,every week, an utter humiliation for a teenage girl, already struggling with self image issues.  Grandparents, parents, friends, family and strangers all reminded me that I was a sub-par woman because I weighed too much.  I was even told that I would never get married because though I had a pretty face, I was too fat .  No man would want me; if by chance I was lucky enough that one would, he would be old and fat and just looking for someone to take care of him.
I tell these stories, not to make others look bad, or to make people feel sorry for me.  I tell them simply to give background on why that last comment, made in the bastion of the only place I had ever felt truly accepted (the church) cut so very deeply.
After a few months break, we tried to go back to church but every time we did, all I could think was that I was so fat these new people obviously were judging me and wouldn't really want me in their congregation.
It got so bad that I finally went into counseling.
young me
Let's be honest, there are a lot of things in my life that I needed counseling for.  But the one thing that became very clear was that I was deeply damaged.  I could not accept that others could love me because I felt so unworthy of their love.  My weight had literally become the barometer by which I gauged my acceptability to the world. Over several months, I slowly began to work through my issues.  I came to begin to accept and even embrace the woman God created me to be, no matter what numbers on the scale read.  I began to shop for fashionable clothes and to buy jewelry and make-up for myself.  Before I had always felt guilty if I did those things because I didn't deserve them in my mind.  I always made those things a reward I I lost ten or twenty or thirty pounds, because anything pleasurable or nice was dependent on if the scale said I earned it.   I was depressed because I could never, ever be thin enough to earn all the things I needed (forget wanted, I went for two years with a coat that was basically in tatters because I refused to buy a new one until I lost more weight). I even refused to go to MD's because I was so ashamed of what the scale said.  Once when I was 8 months pregnant with my last son, I had to go for an unscheduled appointment at the OB/GYN (we thought I was going into labor).  My normal doctor wasn't in so I got one of her partners.  He was in the hall reading my chart and looked up at the nurse and said "You seriously want me to check on her and she weighs this?!?"  I was mortified.  He didn't know I had heard him, so I smiled and politely spread my legs; knowing the whole time what he thought of me as he examined me in my most vulnerable of positions.  I haven't been back to the gynecologist since my son was born over nine years ago.  This week I scheduled my first appointment.  This is a huge step in the healing that has happened in me over the past year.
As I have learned to love the woman I am, an amazing thing has happened, I've become stronger and healthier.  I have made changes to my diet, not with the focus of losing weight, but with a focus on my over all health.  As I've made these changes the numbers on the scale have been steadily falling.  The amazing thing is that this fact is so very secondary to me.  Other people are more excited about the weight loss then I am.  To me it is the fact I was able to scale the cliff (okay more of a steep ledge) to go fossil hunting with my boys that is the bigger deal.  The fact I now have energy and creativity to make my home into the home I want my boys to love and treasure is HUGE.  The fact that I now can enjoy the holidays with my family instead of being nearly comatose from the amount of pain I am in from preparing for them, is the most treasured huge deal.
My focus has changed.  I like me, regardless of the scale.  I hope one day others who can only see my weight can come to appreciate the amazing person I am but if not, that's okay.  I am no longer shamed by their prejudice and ignorance.  I am fine with who I am and I really do like the me I see in the mirror.  I look pretty darn cute with my hair done up and my red lipstick on.  I look just as cute in my pj's with wrinkle cream on my face because who I am doesn't change because of what I'm wearing or what I weigh.  Who I am is a child of the most high God and he finds me beautiful.
Me now

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