I have always had a pretty bad body image. I think I’ve discussed this before. I don’t think I’ve talked about what I believe are the reasons for this, but I’m going to take a stab at it.
My mom was a very petite, young mother, who had an awesome body–without even trying (okay, maybe the Diet Pepsi and cigarette diet). Growing up, boys in my class were always commenting on her hotness factor. This was before the term ‘MILF’ was popular, but they were definitely using similar phrases. I even had a teacher say to me “Wow, she has amazing hair, don’t you wish your hair was like hers?” I didn’t know how to respond.
I was 14.
So the years of this, compounded by the fact that I was slightly chubbier than average (but, looking back, most of it was in my head) and the fact that my mom just didn’t know how to relate to me and this problem. I get it. I understand. But telling me she lost weight after giving birth to me (at 16) by eating plain tuna and eating nothing after 7 p.m. did not help me at all. I know she tried to the best of her abilities and it isn’t in any way HER fault.
I had a really bad self-esteem. Looking back, I know I was a depressed kid. I gained more weight. So by the time I graduated, I WAS a bit heavier than I should have been.
My first year in college, away from home. I was DEFINITELY overweight. Probably 50 pounds heavier than I had ever been.
So. I decided something had to change.
I started running and walking. Just doing it. I hated every single minute of it, but loved how I felt afterward.
I started Weight Watchers.
I started losing weight.
I lost 70 pounds. I was on the low side of a size ten, and able to get into my sister’s size 8 jeans at one point. To some of you, that might sound huge. But to me, who had once been in a size 18+ it was heavenly. For my frame and body (tall and broad), it seemed almost perfect.
But it never felt like enough. I never felt like I was small enough.
But I couldn’t go over that hump.
I got married, and was about 7 pounds heavier than my lowest recorded weight. I still felt beautiful on my wedding day. I can never thank Bill enough for that.
I possibly gained 15-20 pounds between my wedding and when I got pregnant with Olivia–I was between a snug 10 and a 12.
I gained 60 pounds when pregnant with Olivia. I had been doing so well (right on target according to my OB) until I was put on bed rest. I was allowed to get up to use the bathroom, shower and I could sit up for one meal a day. But basically, I was confined to a bed for two months. I tend to stress eat, so worrying about my baby being born prematurely caused me to, well, eat.
I lost it all except for 10 pounds within the first year of Olivia’s birth. I got pregnant with Sophia right around Olivia’s 1st birthday and put on roughly 45 pounds.
I lost all but 15 pounds of that by the time Sophia was 18 months old.
And here we are, almost a year later. With those same 25 baby pounds and 15-20 marital bliss pounds. Add another 7-10 if you want to include my “lowest recorded weight”. So, for arguments sake, that’s 50-55 pounds we’re talking here. Which, is a lot. More than I had ever hoped to gain back.
I can argue all I want that the baby weight is what is keeping me heavy. But, that’s not fair. The more I think about it, the more I realize that while I DO need to eat better and definitely exercise more, I know the rules, and that’s not what is holding me back.
I have so much. So very much. A wonderful, loving husband who is 100% supportive in all I do, my sound-board, my rock. Two healthy, beautiful, kind, and smart daughters who make me melt every time I look into their eyes, eyes that mirror my own. I know I am beautiful, as they are a reflection of me. And I’ve become to accept and appreciate my own face.
But I’m starting to see that I’m wearing the extra weight as a cloak of protection, a sign that everything will be alright because I’m not close to being perfect, or to having it all. Once I lose the weight I am vulnerable. I am vulnerable to the other shoe dropping. Bad things happening. It always seemed, as a child, with all the upheaval, strife and unrest in my life, that when things were going really well, something happened. Something became fucked up, almost as if to remind me that I couldn’t have it all. I didn’t deserve to have it all.
So I’ve lived my life waiting for that other shoe to drop. I put poor Bill through a LOT of hell when we were first together. He loved me so much, so I pushed and pushed and pushed because I knew if it was too good, he would leave. So I pushed. And he stayed. And I realized he wasn’t going anywhere, and life wasn’t going to fuck me over because I was happy and in love. Life was pretty close to perfect, except, I wasn’t exactly happy with my job.
It almost happened when I was pregnant. I was on track, healthy, loving everything about this little person I was growing. I had my moments, but overall, I was ecstatic. Then we had the scare and I was dropped back down to reality. It happened that way with Sophia too; having everything go so well, and then, right before she was born, my dad died. Once again, I took it as the universe showing me you CAN’T HAVE IT ALL.
I think I know that it is bullshit, and that it is a copout and all of those things. I’m really trying to move past that. It just always seems to jump up and bite me in the ass.
Ultimately I am so very happy, and thisclose to having it all (well, all that matters to me, anyway). Except for my own body. I want to be back in a comfortable size 10 again. I want to lose this weight. I owe it to my daughters to not obsess. No matter how much I DON’T talk about the weight or the scale or my unhappiness, they will see it, eventually. They will be hurt when mama doesn’t want to wear a bathing suit, or doesn’t want her picture taken with them on the beach.
I think deep down I am scared that if I lose this weight, have two healthy daughters and one amazing husband, then what’s going to happen? What shoe will drop?
However, my baby meter has been running on high recently. I want more babies, I know I’m not done and I want all of my children relatively close in age. When I talked to Bill and approached the subject, he simply looked at me and said: “I’ll make you a deal. We can start trying to have another baby when you lose the weight you want to lose and are confident and comfortable with your body.”
I got mad at him for a couple of minutes. How DARE he dictate to me? It’s MY body!
Then I let his words sink in.
He loves me. He finds me sexy no matter what and is definitely attracted to me. He wouldn’t care what size I was, provided I was healthy and happy in my own skin. But I am not right now. And you know what isn’t sexy? The constant complaining I do to him about all things related to my body. He is the only one who hears it, and dammit, if anyone has a say about my body other than me, it would be him. After all, he is the one who would contribute to the additional weight I would put on if we had another child.
He deserves a wife that doesn’t complain about not having anything to wear, someone who isn’t constantly tugging at her clothes because she feels that she is showing too much skin, someone who doesn’t insist on wearing a cardigan over her sundress in the hot July sun. He deserves someone who holds her head up high and feels confident and is able to raise confident daughters. But more importantly, he knows that I deserve that.
I do deserve it. I deserve to be healthy, happy and confident, just as much as anyone else does.
And if the other shoe DOES drop?
Well, we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. That’s life: shoes drop, shitty things happen, but life must be lived, not feared.
I start my journey tomorrow.