When you say womanly, you mean hot not fat, right?
Yesterday I spent much of the day in bed. Crying. Because I hated my body.
Today, I put on a sexy dress and some knee-high boots and went into the city to meet some people. I didn’t hate my body so much today. I wasn’t in love with it, like I have been before. But I could see that to an outside observer, I am really lovely.
My dismorphia has been coming in waves. And I have just been trying to keep my head above water and not get swept away in the current.
I have been comparing myself to me a year ago. I keep thinking that being 12 lbs heavier than I was before I quit smoking means that I’m 12 points (units? notches?) uglier than I was then. But friends and strangers keep complimenting me. One of my neighbors actually asked if I had started working out because I look so good. So healthy. A friend of mine said that she could see that I had gained a bit of weight. But that she thought it made me look more beautiful. Less drawn. More womanly.
That’s the consensus. Healthy. Womanly. I am a sensuous woman. I like the idea of being round, soft and warm. It fits nicely with the kind of wife and partner I would like to be someday. Nurturing, loving, empowering. And I know that I am beautiful, and sexy. These are traits I learned to own when I got my food under control. Well nourished, well rested, with strong integrity and a good amount of genetic luck.
So why am I having such a hard time with my dismorphia lately? I think a lot of it is that I am not in control right now. And that scares me. I have no idea when the weight gain will stop. I have no idea how much more weight I could gain. I don’t know how long it could be before I feel happy and comfortable in my body again. 3 months? 6 months? A year? (Oh dear God, please don’t let it take a year!) I don’t get a say about my body right now. I am in free fall. And I am having a hard time trusting that this will end well.
Maybe it’s just because I spent my first 28 years in a body that I hated. I have a lot more experience thinking I am ugly than I do knowing that I am beautiful. I have been experiencing a lot of those same old feelings of body shame lately. I noticed today that when I am out in public, I have not been breathing. That I have been keeping my neck and shoulders rigid. I am waiting for someone to make a comment about my body. I’m waiting for someone to tell me I’m fat.
I, of course, am not at all fat. There is nothing unhealthy about my weight. At 145, I fall well within the normal range for a woman my height. (5′ 6.5″) My 12 lb weight gain comes from doing something very healthy. Quitting smoking. Plus all signs point to much of the weight being temporary. I have gone up one pants size. Now an 8 fits me comfortably. A 9 in juniors sizes. This is a normal size.
I wish I felt like a normal woman in a normal body. I wish I knew for certain that I would stay a normal size. I wish I had some idea of when the weight gain would stop and I would get some measure of control back. I wish I knew how long before I stopped being uncomfortable in my own skin.
I’ll be honest, if I had known that this was going to happen, I would not have quit smoking. But what’s done is done. I’m no fool. I can see that there is no turning back now. I’m already in it. At this point, the only way to the other side is through.
Here’s another thing. I have a reputation among certain people I know for being non-judgmental. The one who accepts herself, and therefore them. The person people can come to and tell their secrets and failures, without fear of being shamed. I am the woman who teaches people to love themselves by example. Because I learned to love myself. And here I am hating myself. Being ashamed of my body. And I feel like I am letting everyone down. Like I’m letting you down. And I am embarrassed to admit that. I want to be better than that. I want to be stronger than that. I thought I was made of better stuff…
And maybe the most difficult part of this whole experience is not knowing what the lesson is. Or if there is a lesson. Maybe I’m supposed to have some room for the self-hatred. To let it in so it can flow back out again. Maybe I need to stop resisting hating my body. Maybe I just need to hate it until I love it again. Not hurt it or abuse it. But hate it. Think it’s ugly and let that be ok.
Or maybe I should ignore it. Perhaps I need to stop caring about what I look like for a while. Stop looking in the mirror. Stop dressing to be cute. Stop worrying about whether or not men find me attractive. Because I do worry about it. Which is kind of ridiculous, since I have not been dating for a very long time now.
Or maybe the lesson here is that I just have to keep doing what I am doing. Longer. Just keep managing my self-hatred. Keep putting it down. Keep finding some way to love myself one day at a time.
And there is one more possibility that has occurred to me. And it’s that I have had this self-hatred for my whole life. And that I ate it. And when I stopped eating it, I smoked it. And now that I am not smoking it, all there is to do is feel it. And maybe if I feel it for as long as it takes, I will move through it. And I will be able to love my body because it is mine. Not because it used to be fat and unhealthy and now it is thin and healthy. And not because I managed to make it a shape that I think the world will find appealing. But simply because it is the only vehicle for the life that belongs to me. Because it is me. And I am worth loving.
As always, you can share my blog any time you want. I’m on twitter too @onceafatgirl5