*Please note that some details contained in this post may not be suitable for some. I make no apologies as this is my story and personal journey and is not intended to hurt anyone. It is my hope that those it touches can heal too.
The 45 Day Challenge: Losing the Baby Weight
#13 Extend more love towards myself by reminding myself about being grateful.
Part of my challenge this week is to list some of the things I’m grateful for. Today’s list is specific to my body as its high time I paid it some respect. Before I get to that I’d like to share a few key moments in my life that shaped who I would become in my early years. I don’t like to relive the past as I pride myself on moving forward and learning what I can but sometimes it’s good to pause and reflect. It’s helpful to know how particular issues from the past infiltrate my thinking and still affect me even forty years later. Only then it seems, can I really move forward.
Of course we can’t change the past, but we can change how we react to it. And I’ve always said that the best way to deal with my stuff is to be real. So here goes.
In elementary school, grade one to be exact, I was with one of my friends in P.E. class and we were talking about being fat. Somewhere in that conversation, I pulled up my top to show my belly to my friend and said, ‘Look I can suck in my tummy too’. I remember that day as if it were yesterday and have been conscious of my weight ever since.
I was always on the heavy side as a kid but I was certainly not obese. No matter. I was teased incessantly for being fat. I was taller than most kids in my class from grade 1 until graduation and I remember how desperate I was in thinking that if I was shorter or skinnier I could be normal and popular.
When you don’t have a strong self concept or when you aren’t able to validate your own feelings, you let others do it for you.
When I was six years old my father abandoned his family.
My mom worked her ass off to provide for three girls under the age of six and he never contributed a red cent. He would show up at Christmas or birthdays or we’d spend a couple of weeks in the summers but only at his new wife’s insistence. If it wasn’t for her I’m certain we’d never have seen him.
There’s a lot more to that story but that’s for another post. Looking back I know that my poor self concept was directly linked to feelings of abandonment and loneliness. I wanted to feel better but I didn’t know how. At some level I knew that it wasn’t my fault my father left, but I was sad and hurt and didn’t know what to do with those feelings. I don’t ever remember talking about it with my mom.
When I was about ten years old…
my mother’s godfather sexually abused me. My sisters and I would go to his house next door for Sunday breakfast or after school as my mother was either working or had worked the night shift and was still sleeping. With his wife in the next room he’d enter the bathroom I was in and assault me. I think it only happened a couple of times and once or twice at my house. I’m not sure what happened with my sisters as we didn’t really talk about it. Perhaps they don’t remember much.
After several months of being terrified and avoiding him when he came over with his plate of pancakes, I told my friend. She insisted I tell my mom or she would. When I told my mother I seem to recall a kind of blank reaction. I don’t really remember what happened then but I wondered why she didn’t talk about it.
I found out years later that we moved because of it but I don’t know if she ever confronted him. What I do know now was my mom was scared and did the best she could to keep us safe. But at the time I felt unprotected, violated and basically worthless. Consequently my view about my sex and men was completely defined by this experience.
Fast forward to my teen years
When I was a about fifteen I had a few friends who took pills or snorted speed or binged on food. One or two of them would purge to ease the guilty feelings of having eaten too much. I had one friend who thought 15 calories for one carrot was too much and so she stopped eating them. She drank pots of coffee and smoked and took speed. She was my best friend by default as we lived next door to each other. She was a bully and cruel. And I was a coward. And apparently I was fat. Which in her mind was the worst thing imaginable.
I tried all of my friends methods for dealing with the pain. Thankfully I didn’t do any of it for very long. I liked food way too much. But instead of doing something positive to turn their lives around, I, like them, turned on myself to deal with the building hatred within.
My way of dealing with the stuff in my life was to turn to food…
to numb the feelings of loneliness, abandonment and ironically, the pain of being told I was too fat and ugly to be anyone’s friend.
It took me a long time to realize that I am not my past. It took many years before I could confidently say that I am not defined by what other people say or do or do to me. But, the past has a funny way of creeping back into the present though doesn’t it? Like an onion, the past needs to be peeled back layer by layer to reveal the tender bits sometimes. And sometimes it just needs to be chopped up and thrown in the pot with the rest.
Reframing Defining Moments
I’m sure you didn’t expect to hear all that. I’m sure you’re wondering what kind of 45 Day Challenge this is. I probably should have called it something like “It’s time to get real and reveal all my deep dark secrets so I can lose the baby weight.” Yeah, it’s more like that.
Why do we let moments like the ones I described define us?
When we’re children we’re open books. We learn how to love and care for ourselves by the example our parents and others set and by how they treat us. When those people who are supposed to care most hurt you, you start to think that you deserve to be treated that way.
What I know now that I didn’t know then is this. In order for me to have what I want, in this case, to lose the baby weight, I have to get real about why the weight is still there. Writing about it in this blog is the best way I know how as it forces me to be real and honest with myself. Writing half-truths and making it sound wonderful and peachy isn’t why I’m here. What I am here to do is heal myself and lose the frickin baby weight! 🙂 I hope you’re still with me.
Now, it’s time to reframe, my friend. Then we can get on to what I’m grateful for.
5 Reframes To Take Away
‘My mother’s godfather sexually abused me.’
Reframe ~ Nothing I did caused this to happen. I told my mother about the abuse and it stopped. I stuck up for myself. Not all men are like this.
‘I tried all of my friends methods for dealing with the pain.’
Reframe ~ I could have gone down the same path but I didn’t. Deep inside I knew I deserved more.
‘When I was six years old my father abandoned his family.’
Reframe ~ I had absolutely nothing to do with why my father left. He was the coward not me. He has his own pain to deal with.
‘I was teased incessantly for being fat.’
Reframe ~ I was not fat as a kid. I was very tall and would grow into my frame. When I look back at pictures I see a normal, healthy kid who was active and happened to carry a few extra pounds.
‘She was my best friend by default as we lived next door to each other. She was a bully and cruel.’
Reframe ~ We weren’t really friends. Friends don’t treat each other badly. Kids who bully have their own sadness.
I wish someone had talked to that little girl (me) who was so confused about how to deal with pain. But then again I suppose I had to go through that crap to become the person I am now. I am a good person who is kind and thoughtful and loving. I know I am better prepared to teach my son how to believe in himself and the importance of validating his own feelings despite what others may say about him.
I Am Grateful
The best way I know to change how I think about anything is to be present and grateful for what I have. It is an important tool to help me heal from the past. I still catch myself looking in the mirror and chastising the latest body part on my list of things I wish would change. I still eat when I am bored or sad or happy. But I spend my time with people who lift me up and don’t drag me down. I make better choices with food and am happier in general. And I am more grateful than I ever was. Grateful for the lessons I learned and the ones I’m still working on. It helps me know I am doing the best I can and there’s still room to grow.
When you fill yourself up with feelings of love and gratefulness there is no room for the crap. Give it a try. Write down five things you are grateful for. That’s what I am doing today too.
It’s time, my body, to feel the love I have for you. You have been through a lot. And you deserve a whole lot better. (Yes, I am talking to my body, ok?)
5 Ways I Am Grateful for My Body
- My body gave my son life. Without him I wouldn’t be the person I am today.
- My body and mind are learning to relax and sleep better. Thank you!
- My hands are stronger now that they are healing from carpal tunnel.
- My eyes see the beauty that is around me everywhere.
- My heart beats strong and is full of more love and grace today than it was yesterday.
Thank you for reading.
What are you grateful for today?