Last week when I was driving, John Mayer was crooning that my body was a Wonder Land. I smiled because he is right. Boy has it taken a journey to get here though. Here as a place where I am more accepting of what is. A place where I work more on loving and less at hating. I am not perfect at it- but I try.
I was at the school infirmary with a sinus infection my junior year of college. At the nurses request, I stepped on the scale without thinking twice. Holy Freshman 17. But I was a Junior. And that's when it came back to life--the demon that first came and left my junior year of high school. I weighed 17 lbs more than I did on my last visit- months back. My clothes were tight and I was eating like crap. I needed to do something about it- FAST. I started my new diet the next day- 988 calories a day because I read somewhere anything less than 1000 was dangerous. I wanted dangerous. My method was control and I've never been so out of control in my life.
I hated that the world revolved around food. Holidays, social occasions, study groups. Even my job as a restaurant server--food was everywhere. I was obsessed with it. Thinking about it, and trying not to think about it. It was all I thought about either way. Food. Either I was starving or miserable from eating every single thing. No in between. My periods stopped but I didn't care. Every day I ran 5 miles at the track and then went to the gym for hours. I felt like I was grown up and efficient and productive and incredibly broken. Every time I left the gym I would step on the huge Toledo scale. The rest of my entire day resolved around the number that showed up.
It went on for over a year.
One day I needed help. I needed someone to tell me how to stop. I had lost almost 30 lbs. Chrissy was gone, and I was only food. Its absence or presence. I was messy and broken and scared because I knew I only had two choices-to stop living like this or just stop living. I really didn't care either way. I saw a flyer on campus for Over Eaters Anonymous. I can't believe I had the balls to go -but that's a testament to how desperate I was. I was sickly skinny, and the other women in the group were over weight. Whether real or projected I felt stares. She can't be here. She doesn't get it. Her life is easy because she's skinny. In my mind we all looked the same- except they were pretty. I was fat and ugly. I left there and I was still alone. I didn't belong to anything.
And it took years for it to completely go away. Therapy. Practice. Incredibly hard work and showing up just for me. I didn't know what hungry felt like anymore. I knew empty or miserable. I had to learn to eat like everyone else did. I was scared. It was hard. I had to learn how to exercise for exercise, not to vanish or fade away.
I didn't know who I was then. The real ME, didn't exist. The outside me and the inside me were complete strangers. I was pretending to be someone else- a skinny, happy, strong, athletic girl who had her life together. I was pretending to be someone without flaws, someone who had it together. And inside I was broken mess. I was scared and hungry and empty, no matter how much I ate. Sometimes I would use the restroom in the dark, because I couldn't stand to see my reflection in the mirror. I had nothing to give anyone else, let alone myself.
I will never pretend to know the struggles my gay Friends have faced, but I do know what it feels like to pretend to be someone you are not. It's exhausting. It's suffocating. It's something I could never do again.
You look so healthy, people would tell me with relief in their eyes as the weight my body so desperately needed painstakingly came back on. Healthy was a synonym for fat, and I hated hearing it. But I continued to do the hard work because I had to believe there was something worth it on the other side.
I never thought I'd get to the place I am now. I didn't know I was capable of taming the beast that lived within. Healthy. Honest. More authentic. Brave. I still find the broken me lingering in shadows, not in behaviors but in thoughts. French fries- BAD. Indulgence -BAD. Pants too tight- UGLY. Not working out- LAZY. I have to force myself to think outside of black and white. I've learned my triggers. I threw the scale away many years ago. I can't hang out with people who have an unhealthy addiction to exercise or watch their weight neurotically. I'm so sad because I see that it still exists in some women my age. My radar goes off. It's so obvious to me now. If this is you- please tell someone. Tell me. I understand.
I am compulsive. I've worked to make peace with that drive, and harness it into beautiful and hopeful things. I just have to funnel that power in different directions, because it is mighty. I think some demons are really just beautiful butterflies waiting to escape.
Pregnancy and motherhood helped bring my body into new and divine perspective.
Gaining weight was hard- yes, but pregnancy made me real. It showed me my body was so much more than what I thought others were thinking about it. It helped heal my soul. And there are moments when I see my once flat abs stretched to a permanent 3 month pregnant pooch. Moments when I wonder why I didn't appreciate my healthy perky young body more back then. Moments I want fuller breasts or tighter stomach muscles. But so far those moments have always passed. I'd rather have a new camera lens, or a lesson in photo shop. A genuine heart. I'd rather work on my inside- not my outside.
I finally realized you don't have to be perfect to be beautiful. You certainly don't have to be skinny. I think true beauty is in fact an absence of perfection.
And the best part? I finally feel like I belong. I think I just had to belong to me first.
Find me on FACEBOOK and let's us belong to the same thing together.