Weight Loss, Denial, and Body Image

(This is an edited version of a post I put on my personal blog last week.  So some of you have already seen this.  So my apologies to those that have already seen this, but I DID warn you it was going to be showing up here!!!  🙂  )

I’ve lost weight.

I don’t know how much exactly – I haven’t weighed myself in almost a year.  I DO know that I’ve gone from a UK size 20 (US 16) to an 18 (US 14) {according to the size conversion charts on the Evans website}.  To put this into perspective for you: I haven’t been a US size 14 since I WAS 14.  I’m 32 now.

I honestly don’t know how this happened.  Not much has changed, other than the fact that the kids were home for their 6 week summer vacation, and now they’re back at school.  I haven’t drastically changed my eating habits or my activity levels.  I haven’t gone off or on medications.  My stress level is high, but to be perfectly honest, it’s ALWAYS high.  (I just don’t always TALK about it.)

And the fact is, I’ve been denying the weight loss for a while now.  People keep asking me if I’ve lost weight, and I keep deflecting the issue, saying things like “oh, you’re just not used to seeing me in clothes that actually fit, as opposed to clothes that are 4-6 sizes too big.”  Not just to deflect the issue (although since I’m finally facing the honesty in this situation, that IS part of it), but because it’s true.  In the last year (less than, actually), I have almost completely changed the way I dress.  For years – since I was a teenager – I purposely wore clothes that were too big for me.  I thought that by hiding my body, I was somehow making it more acceptable.  Like if they couldn’t see my body, they wouldn’t know just how fat I really was, and that was better than actually letting people see me.  But now I actually DO wear clothes that fit.

But the realization that I’ve lost weight hasn’t come from people commenting on it, or the sizes of the clothes I’ve been buying.  It’s come from wearing clothes that I’ve had for years — and suddenly they don’t fit like before.  My favorite jeans have suddenly become baggy.  My embellished cargo pants have suddenly become loose enough that while they’re not falling down or anything, I can pull them off without undoing the button or zipper.  My favorite sweater in the whole world has become so big on me that it’s annoying rather than comforting.  I “had” to go buy myself something else while I was in town last week because it was bothering me that badly.  (On that note, does anybody have any idea if I could alter the sweater?  Like, take it in?  I’d much rather do that – even if I had to pay the alterations place in town to do it properly – than get rid of it.  I seriously love this sweater to death.)

I’ve finally had to face up to the fact that I’ve lost weight.

But now that I have, I realized something.  I didn’t want to have lost weight.  I kept denying it because I didn’t want it to be true.

Yeah, um… let me repeat that: I kept denying that I lost weight because I didn’t want it to be true.

Now HOW fucked up is THAT???

But now that I’ve admitted that to myself, I had to examine why.  Why the hell would I NOT want to lose weight?  I mean, isn’t that what I’m SUPPOSED to want?  Even the most die-hard FA’ers would admit that while they strive for fat acceptance, they’d be lying if they said they didn’t WANT to be thin. Or thinnER.  It’s pounded into our heads on a daily basis, and even if you agree with all the tenents of Fat Acceptance (and I DO), it’s almost impossible to live your life completely unaffected by societal views on body image.  You’d have to live your life in some sort of bubble, and I sure as hell haven’t been.

The one thing I worried about was gaining weight.  In my head, I know that gaining weight wouldn’t be the worst thing that could happen to me.  But it’s that irrational fear of taking over the whole world that a lot of us can relate to. It was only after seriously reflecting on my weight fluctuations in my adult years that I realized that it probably wouldn’t even happen.  Even with weight fluctuations, my body keeps going back to the same-ish weight.  200 lbs, give or take a few.  My weight has gone up to 230 and down to 190 (barring pregnancy weights, of which the highest was somewhere around the 270+ mark, but the majority of that was water retention from pre-eclampsia), but I always seem to go back to 200 without any real effort on my own part.  (And the weight gains, up to 230?  Have almost always been right after having a baby.  Once the baby is walking age, I always seem to go back down to 200 without doing anything.  Correlation?  Methinks so.)  I never even gave any real thought to losing weight.  I’ve never been able to lose a significant amount of weight (more than 20 lbs.) without a superhuman effort or living through an abusive relationship.  So that?  Didn’t even enter into it, as far as I was concerned.

But here I am, I’ve lost weight, and I’ve had to admit to myself that I didn’t want it to be true.

Am I afraid of weight-related craziness?  Am I afraid that, now that I’ve lost some weight, I’m going to become obsessed again?  Start dieting again, because after all, I’ve just lost weight without doing anything… just imagine how much weight I could lose if I actually tried?! (/sarcasm)

Or am I afraid of how I’m going to feel if I gain weight again?  Am I going to slip back down the oh-so-slippery slope to self-loathing again?

If I’m perfectly honest, that’s one road I really don’t want to go down again.  I am feeling good about myself for the first time in my life, and it is not because person X told me I should be, it’s because I’ve started to realize for myself that I am not the worthless, ugly freak I thought I was.  I certainly don’t think I’m all that and a bag of chips, but I realize that I just might be okay the way I am, after all.  That maybe – just maybe – the way the world sees me just might not be as important as I always thought it was.  That maybe my husband (and most, if not all, of the boyfriends/friends/family that preceded him) was (were) telling the truth when he (they) said that he (they) thought that I was beautiful and desirable and funny and and and.  To go back to hating myself?  Well, I’d rather be dead.  Seriously.

Maybe it was a combination.  I don’t know.  I just know that I honestly did not want to admit that I had lost weight.  And while I’m sure there’s a big huge revelation in there somewhere, I’m not sure exactly where it is.

Other people’s reactions to my weight loss have been… uncomfortable would be the best way to put it.  “You’re doing great!”  Um… I’m not DOING anything differently now than I was a year ago.  The big changes I’ve made in my life have been internal changes – changing my thinking, changing the way I react to certain situations.  Nothing physical.

My SIL Kirsty (who, for the record, is only 12) automatically assumed that I’d made some big diet changes.  Um… not exactly.  “You’re just like my mom,” she said to me yesterday.  “She used to drink coffee all day long, and now she only drinks one or two cups.”  I went on to explain to her that I haven’t done ANYTHING differently in the last year.  I eat the same way I always have, the only change has been how I approach food.  Food is no longer my enemy.  It is not something to be fought; it is there to fuel my body.  I eat what my body wants when my body wants it.  (To an extent; we live on a limited income and sometimes what I REALLY want, we don’t have.  So I pick what I want out of what we’ve GOT.)  I place no restrictions on food.  Food is food, period.  It’s not good or bad, it just IS.

(Having the in-laws over yesterday was a great opportunity to preach some HAES, I must say!  It was quite cool, actually.)

And seeing my reflection has become strange.  Obviously the weight didn’t fall off overnight, but I honestly didn’t notice it until the last couple of weeks.  And suddenly I can see the change in myself and it’s just… weird.  I look at myself and it doesn’t even look like ME.

Hubby thinks it’s just me letting go of most of the negativity in my life.  And he may well have a point; I honestly just don’t know.

I just don’t know what to think about all this.  Not so much the weight loss itself (although, on that note, do y’all think it’s possible for fat to re-distrubute itself this late in my life?  Because that would make so much more sense than me spontaneously losing weight), but my reactions to it.

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Fat Positive thoughts in the oddest places.

What do YOU see?

What do YOU see?

I just got on the desktop computer* and opened up a webpage, which is set to iGoogle under my username.  I have it set to “random themes” and I get a different one every day.  This is one part of what came up today.

At first, I just looked at the colors and thought “oooh!  I like that one!”  But then I looked at it a little closer.

I do believe that this is just supposed to be some abstract pattern, but when I looked at this one part that I’ve sectioned off for you to see, what do you think my brain saw?

A beautiful fat body, that’s what.

Now what’s so strange about that, you might ask?  Of course I’m going to tell you, that’s the whole point of this post!  🙂

You have to remember that I’m still fairly new to FA.  It hasn’t even been a year yet since I read my first FA post.  The change in me has been fairly slow, in terms of that <year.  However, when you consider the entirety of my life, it’s been fairly quick.  Especially when the changes in me go unnoticed until one day, it jumps up and slaps me in the face.  Like today.

I, like probably most fat people, internalized the fatphobia just as good as the next person.  Oh yeah, I didn’t just hate myself, I hated fat in general.  Of course there were always fat people that I saw and looked at and thought “wow… s/he’s fat AND beautiful” but I have to admit that it was very few and far between.  For the most part, the internalized fatphobia dominated my thinking.

Now I’ll admit that I’ve gone out of my way to try and change that thinking.  Not for anyone else, but for me.  I didn’t want to think that way about anyone, including myself.  But it was only today, when I saw that design on my iGoogle page, that I realized just how far I’ve come.

Never before finding FA would I have been able to actually think the words “beautiful fat body.”  I might not have reacted to a fat body with disdain or contempt, but those three words would have eluded me no matter what I did.  But today, I see that, and I am immediately overcome with an image of a beautiful fat woman, all roundness and curves and sensuality.

The whole thing.

The whole thing.

I realize that you might look at it and see nothing.  Or you might look at it and see a beautiful fat man instead of a woman.

But you know what?  I like the fact that I saw a beautiful fat woman.  I’m glad.  When I realized the change in my thinking, I smiled and got the warm fuzzies inside.

🙂

* – we have 3 computers here at home.  The desktop is commonly referred to as “Daddy’s” computer, the laptop is mine and mine alone, and the other computer is The Little Helper’s.  Lately, though, Daddy’s been spending a lot of time in the bedroom on my laptop, so I’ve been using “his” computer almost exclusively.

Some wishes DO come true!

Somewhere, over the rainbow....

Somewhere, over the rainbow....

When I first found the Fatosphere back in October of last year, I wasn’t looking for a place full of righteous indignation.  I wasn’t looking to become an activist.  No, my initial reaction was much more self-centered than that.

I just wanted to like myself.

I had spent so long absolutely abhorring myself that I was exhausted with it.  I was just so tired of looking in the mirror and saying those hateful things to myself.  Some part of my brain knew that this wasn’t a healthy way of thinking, but the rest of my brain said “but we don’t know any other way to think!” When I found the Fatosphere, and saw that it was filled with people of all shapes and sizes saying that being fat was actually okay, and that liking myself as I was wasn’t a crazy thought, I seriously thought I’d found my lifeline.

Here were people that were saying that I didn’t have to lose weight to become an acceptable human being – even to myself.  I didn’t have to hate everything about myself simply because I didn’t fit some unrealistic, unattainable (for 99.999999% of the world’s population) “ideal.”  I had the right to expect to be treated with respect and dignity just because I exist.  Because I am a human being.  I am a whole person, with strengths and weakness, with thoughts and feelings.  I just happen to also be fat.  That fatness is only a physical characteristic – it is not now, never has been nor ever will be the sum total of what it is that is “me.”

But all I wanted was to be able to say “I like myself.”  And mean it.

Very slowly at first, I started to feel better about myself.  But choosing to immerse myself in the on-line presence of people like me was bound to do that.

Then the rollercoaster that is my life took a downward spiral for a little while, and I didn’t even touch my computer for 4 months.  Not even to check my email.

Then in the spring, something in my head just snapped and part of my brain said to me: “you KNOW what you need to do.  You need to get back in the Fatosphere and back into blogging.  You’ll feel so much better about yourself if you do.”

And I did.  Part of me felt apprehensive – I’d suddenly dropped off the face of the Fatosphere for months and here I was, about to jump right back in with both feet.  How was I going to face the inevitable questions* about why I just disappeared like that?  But I knew that I had to just let come what may, because for my own mental health, I needed to get back into it.

Around the same time, I joined the Fatshionista community on LiveJournal.  Posting pictures of myself took a lot of courage, but it was so good for me.  Again with the mental health.  Seeing all these women – of all ranges of fat; from what I would think of as “totally NOT fat” to the higher end of the fat spectrum – and realizing that they were ALL beautiful, all in their own way, went a long way in re-programming my brain to think “well, if they’re all beautiful, why can’t I be, too?”

And there’s the crux of the matter.  “Why can’t I be beautiful, too?” Short answer: I can be.  And so can you, and you, and you.

Long answer: beauty, in the sense that I’m talking about it, is an intangible thing.  There is no set formula for what is beautiful and what isn’t.  As opposed to physical attractiveness, most people can’t pinpoint down to the slightest detail what beauty means to them.  One person might find nature beautiful, while another might find something like architecture beautiful.  Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder – because each person’s particular likes and dislikes are all different.

People are supposed to be different.  Different colors, different heights, and yes, different weights. The mere fact that I happen to weigh more than what society tries to force me to think is “acceptable” does not negate the fact that I have my own unique beauty.  And again, so do you and you and you.  You over there?  Yeah, you too.

In the last few months, since I jumped back into the Fatosphere with both feet, I have come a longer way in accepting and liking myself than I had in the 32 years before that.  Let me repeat that:

I have learned more about accepting and liking myself in less than five months than in thirty-two years of existence on this planet. (Nearly half of which have been spent in some sort of counseling.)

I have finally gotten to the point where I like myself the majority of the time.  No, I haven’t found self-esteem nirvana, but I have come so far in such a short time that I’m still finding it odd.  I find it odd when I look in the mirror and I don’t immediately put myself down for some flaw or another.  (I still have flaws, of course, I just don’t feel the need to put myself down because of them.)  I look in the mirror and I finally see me – not some warped, hate-filled version of me that has never been accurate.  And me?  Isn’t so bad, really.

Other people have noticed it, too.  My rise in self-esteem has been one of the major factors of my marriage becoming what my husband and I both want it to be.  I finally started to see myself the way my husband always has, and it has brought us closer in ways counseling (which we tried once) never did.  Nothing has ever worked like my learning to like myself.

Friends have noticed it.  I’m so much happier now than I ever was before.  In my life.

Even strangers notice it.  How else would you explain the fact that I’m suddenly getting hit on left and right?  I can’t remember the last time somebody hit on me before I started feeling better about myself.  Now, it’s every time I go out.  It’s surreal.  I almost feel like I must be in someone else’s body, because these things just don’t happen to me.  So I just take it as a tangible sign that this internal change must be visible externally, in some way or another.

I started out this journey just searching for a way to like myself.  What I found was so much more than that.  But that one wish, that I wished so very hard and very long for?

It came true.

Well how do you like them apples?

* – I don’t want it to sound like I’ve got some huge massive ego and the whole Fatosphere was going to be sitting around wondering “where did nuckingfutz go?”  However, I had been so active – commenting on pretty much everybody’s blogs, practically every post – that I was sure somebody would have noticed my absence and would ask about it.

From no self-esteem to arrogance in 8 short months. Just ask me how!

That was the last sentence of a comment on Fillyjonk’s promotion of Stacy Bias’ The Fat Experience Project.  I’d already read about it at The Rotund, but I was responding specifically to a comment made by FJ herself.

Please check out the project and send in your stories — I want to see Shapelings represented here. I think you guys are the perfect subjects for this project; you are strong-minded and rational, but you deeply understand the shame and fear that comes with having a non-standard body.

My first thought, after I had a good, thorough look at TFEP?  “Maybe I should send something in…” My next thought?  “Wait.  Would that be too arrogant of me, to assume that she’d want something from ME?” Then I had a good laugh at myself.  To go from complete self-loathing to worrying about being too arrogant?  That just proves what an impact The Fatosphere has had on my life.  And, arrogant or not, I think I probably will send something in to Stacy.  She might not use it, but what the hell, right?  🙂

If you haven’t had a good look at it yet, please do.  The site is very well designed, and although Stacy’s only got a few articles posted as of yet, what she does have shows the range of diverse voices that she wants to portray.  It seems like it’ll be something good for everyone involved – not just us Fat People, but those Thin People that might stumble across it and learn something from it.

In which I might get a bit rambly…

I’ve been kind of… “out of it”… mentally the last couple of days.  I’ve been reading, but I’m having a hard time really gathering my thoughts in a coherent manner.  I’m going to give it a shot, though.  But be warned: I might go off on a tangent.  It happens.

I keep going back and re-reading Kate’s latest thinky piece.  For a lot of reasons, really.

The biggest reason, probably, being that I have four children of my own.  And they do stuff like that.  I remember when The Little Helper was about 3 or 4, and I’d taken her to the supermarket with me.  We were in one aisle, and a large woman walked across the end of the aisle.  If I had to guess, I’d say she was probably about the age I am now (early 30’s) and roughly a size 26/28.  I’m not even going to try and guess how much she weighs, because as we well know, nobody knows what a certain weight looks like.  Suffice it to say that she was definitely larger than I was.  Anyway, The Little Helper sees her and yells – and I mean YELLS – “Mommy, that lady is FAT!!”  She said it so loudly that people in the other aisles came into ours to see who she was talking about.

Needless to say, I was mortified.  I told her “shh!  You shouldn’t talk about people like that!”

Now what I really wanted to say was that she shouldn’t be pointing out any specifics about anybody’s body – that’s just plain rude.  But like I said… she was only 3 or 4 at that point.  She wouldn’t have understood what I was talking about.

I sometimes wonder if I might have had something to do with her outburst, though.  I’d just had The Little Chatterbox not too long before hand, and I was desperate to lose weight.  (Never mind the fact that I actually weighed less at that point than I had when Hubby and I first married, I was just SOOO Fat.  [Excuse me while I go barf at myself.])  But I know that, at that point, I was very vocal about wanting to lose weight and how disgusting I was.  So sometimes I wonder if it wasn’t just a little kid making a (very loud) observation, but her clumsy way of saying “but Mommy, you’re so much smaller than she is”.  (That’s the kind of kid she is and always has been – she always wants to help people, whether that’s physical help or emotional.  Hence why she gets the nickname The Little Helper.)

But children are curious creatures – and they will point out any differences they see, usually without malicious intent.  I remember when my youngest cousin Eric was little – about 4 or 5, I’d say – and I had gone over to his house (I was there a LOT back then… a couple of times a week, easy).  I was about 12 or so at the time, and when I walked in, he looked up at me and said “You’ve got some BIG boobies!”  I was already a D cup at that point, so what he was saying was simply true.  D cup boobies on a 12 year old ARE big boobies!  My aunt and then-uncle (they divorced about 2 or 3 years later) gave him hell for saying it, and I’ll admit I was feeling really uncomfortable at the time.  But now?  I can look back on it and realize that he wasn’t trying to be naughty or anything… he just couldn’t help but notice how I was built (few people could) and remarked on it.

So on the subject of children remarking on the differences in people… be that fat or something else… I have to say that the way we REACT to those remarks has a lot more to do with teaching them whether they’re right or wrong.  If a little child comes up to me and says “you’re fat,” the way I react to it is going to tell her whether it’s an okay thing to say or not.  That’s part of where my re-educating my children comes in.  When they were younger and would say something like that, my response would usually be a resigned “yes, I know.”  But now that I’m trying to view fat in a different light, my responses are so much different.  We tend to talk a lot about physical differences in our family – partly because we have a blended family and we don’t all look alike.  (My oldest 2 both have brown hair and brown eyes while the rest of us have blond hair and blue eyes.)  So the subject comes up a little more often than it does in most families, I think.

But that’s where we first learn this whole fat=bad dichotomy.  From other people.  It’s not something we’re born with – it’s something we learn from listening to and watching other people.  Now in older children… yeah, I think the “we shouldn’t remark on other people’s bodies, PERIOD, because that’s just rude” talk needs to be had.  But when you’re talking about young children who are just expressing their curiosity about the world around them… then really, it’s your own reaction that’s the most telling.

But this quote:

actually acknowledging your body and inhabiting it, instead of keeping your mind — the good part of you — comfortably separate from its housing.)

really got to me.  Because that’s essentially what I did.  It was part of my Fantasy of Being Thin – this wasn’t the “real” me, because the “real” me was thin, sexy, and beautiful.  The “real me” was obscured by all of my fat.  Um… no.  The REAL me is and always has been RIGHT HERE.  She isn’t THIN, sexy, and beautiful… she’s FAT, sexy, and beautiful.  She already is almost everything I’ve ever wanted her to be.  And those things she hasn’t achieved yet… well, she’s only 32.  Chances are, she has a lot of time to grow and change.  But the more I really LIVE in my body (as opposed to EXISTING in it, like before), the more my perception of myself has changed.  Do you know… in the last 8 months (since I found the Fatosphere), my eyes have lost a good 30 or 40 pounds?  What do I mean by that?  Well, it’s like this: my BODY hasn’t changed much at all in those 8 months.  My hair is shorter and has been a couple of different colors since then, and I’ve developed some ROCKING thigh muscles, but my weight?  Hasn’t budged.  Nor did I expect it to.  But when I see myself, I see someone that looks a good 30 or 40 lbs. less than what I saw before October of last year.  I say this fairly often, but I really think it’s true: I think I have/had undiagnosed body dysmorphia.  Because when I saw someone who was easily 100+ heavier than me, or 10+ dress sizes larger than myself, I thought I looked like that.  My EYES were fatter than my body.  I have always seen myself as larger than I am.  Until recently, that is.

It’s like finding the Fatosphere and actively taking steps to try and accept (and eventually love) myself has pulled the wool from my eyes and I’m really and truly seeing myself for the first time.  What’s really there, not just what *I* think is there.

And honestly?  Trying to become more comfortable with the word “fat” and developing different ways of responding to that word has had a lot to do with that.  And since the topic seems to come up so often in my house, it’s actually helped to speed it along a little.  Each time the topic comes up, I take a few more steps down the road to full self-love.

A couple of the comments on Kate’s post really got to me though.  For example:

Not that anyone here has done it, but I do have to say that some folks who are on the smaller side of plus piss me off, because they talk about their experiences of “being fat” as if catcalls and a lack of dates is all that we have to go through. They talk about all the cute clothes that finally come in large sizes and don’t realize that even plus-size shops don’t carry things in my size (hint: if your clothing line stops at size 28, you’re still cutting off millions of potential customers.) When you’ve lived several years of your life not even being able to fit in restaurant booths or airplane seats, you start to realize that the “problems” of being a size 20 or so really aren’t problems at all, and you really start to wish that people that size would stfu about how bad they have it.

That one shocked the hell out of me.  Not that I’m trying to play “one-uppance” or anything… but it just really surprised me that someone larger than I would actually think those things.  And honestly?  She has a right to her feelings.  But for most of my life I have thought of myself as insanely huge (for the record, I’m a UK 20/US 16-18), so to read something like that is just like…. whoah.  It just never occurred to me that someone would think that I, at that size, wouldn’t know what it’s like to “really” be fat.  It’s a learning tool, though.  Now that I know that there are people out there that think that way, I can be a little more aware of my language and the effects of said language on people.

And I have to give props… A Sarah wrote a couple of very well-written responses from a parent’s perspective.  I couldn’t have said it much better than she did.

The whole “queer” and “Aspie” sidetrack made me cringe just a little bit.  One of the last responses on that said something to the effect of “THEY’RE allowed to use that word, but *I’M* not.”  Yup, pretty much my take on it, too.  If People With Unconventional Sexualities feel comfortable calling themselves “queer,” then good on them!  Seriously.  But I could never bring myself to use the word.  I guess it’s because I was growing up in the 80’s – and People With Unconventional Sexualities were just beginning to have the opportunities to reclaim the rights they deserved all along.  And “queer” was still seen as an insult then.  I couldn’t bring myself to say that word to someone without having flashbacks of when people would use it as a slur.  And I don’t want to be slurring anybody.  Ya know?  Like the n****r word.  NO WAY IN HELL am I ever going to use that word.  But if they want to use it?  Who the hell am I to tell them they can’t reclaim that word for themselves?

Okay, I think I’m done rambling for now.

… but you never know! 😛

I’m not really sure how to take this.

After reading several blog posts and comments from around the fatosphere regarding fat women whose husbands actually love them because of their bodies and not in spite of them, it led me to wondering.  Where does my own husband stand?  I really didn’t know.

So about ten minutes ago, I gathered up the courage to ask him.

Me: I need to ask you a serious question, but you’re probably going to think I’m nuts.
Hub: Ooooookaaaaaaaaay………..
Me: You say you love me, right?
Hub: (looking insulted) Yes.
Me: (after an uncomfortable pause) Is that because of the way I look or in spite of the way I look?
Hub: (thought for a second) A little bit of both, I guess.

I just don’t know how to feel.  Part of me thinks I guess it was just too much to ask for him to actually like the way I look.  But another part of me thinks that maybe I’m being too harsh on him and myself.  My husband is not the most communicative of people (okay, that’s the understatement of the century).  In order for me to truly understand what he means by that, I would have to continue questioning him – and to be honest, after that answer, I don’t know that I have the emotional stamina to do that.  Of course, the fact that I’ve been suffering through a flu since Sunday doesn’t help any – I get really emotional and downright bitchy when I’m sick.  So I realize that the fact of me being sick may have something to do with my reaction to his answer.

It’s just that once upon a time, this man used to tell me that he liked the way I looked – that I was beautiful.  But he hasn’t said that in years – and he blames me.  He has said that because of my own nonexistent self-esteem and the fact that I would “argue” with him when he said it (he’d say it and I would say something like “no I’m not”), he stopped trying.  But since I’ve found Fat Acceptance and realized that maybe – just possibly – I might be okay the way I am, I started feeling a lot better about myself.  (Well, until I caught this damned flu, that is.)  And knowing what he used to say to me, I guess I was just hoping that he truly thought of me differently than I always had (although my thinking is starting to change) and he would say something to that effect.

But this?  I just don’t know how to take it.  I don’t know whether I should be hurt or not.

God, this self-acceptance thing sure as hell ain’t easy.

The Sleeper Has Awoken

Without change, something sleeps inside us, and seldom awakens.  The sleeper must awaken. 
~Frank Herbert (Dune)

I’ve mentioned before the things I’m starting to notice, now that my focus isn’t on hating my body and myself because of my body.  I have yet another thing to add to the list.

This is going to sound really whacked, but for the first time in my life (I’ll be 32 next month), I actually realized I was bloated (yes, it’s that time of the month).

No, that’s not a typo.  I really said for the first time in my life.

I used to say that I could never tell if I was bloated simply because I was so fat already.  But yesterday morning, I put on a pair of combats that usually fit me absolutely perfectly – and they were slightly tight.  Not so much that they were uncomfortable, but enough that I could tell.  I looked down at myself, and realized that my stomach was bigger than it had been when I went to bed the night before.

Now, to be honest, I panicked at first.  I thought to myself “oh god, I’m blowing up again, I must do some exercise.”  So I did – but nothing major.  I just got out my ab roller and did some crunches and leg lifts and whatnot.  By the afternoon, my stomach had gone back down to what it had been the day before.

It took a few hours before the light-bulb finally went on over my head.  Oh.  My.  God.  I was bloated.  Bloated!!!

Now the majority of the women who will read this are going to think I’ve been on some other planet, but that’s okay.  Maybe I have been.  But I’ve honestly never noticed bloating before.  Realistically, I figured I’d had to have been bloated at some time in my life; after all, I’m a woman.  Sheer mathematics would prove that it had to have happened at some time.  But I’d never noticed it.  Not once.

In my forays into this whole Fat Acceptance thingamajiggie, I’ve read posts and/or comments by people saying that once they stopped trying to eat to lose weight and instead gave their bodies what they wanted, they started to be more aware of their bodies.  To be honest, I didn’t really know what that meant, but I figured that I would figure it out sooner or later. 

Now I know!

I know what they meant, because it’s happening to me now.  Granted, it’s happening in baby steps, but I think that’s a good thing.  If it happened all at once, I’d probably find it overwhelming and confusing and wouldn’t know what the hell was going on with me.  But because this is happening bit by bit, I’m able to stop, take a breath, and figure out what’s going on and move on from there.  I’m able to wrap my head around it instead of panicking.

Awareness of one’s own body.  Who the hell knew?  😉