When you look at me…

bodydismorphicdisorder2

I have struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember.

And by struggle, I mean I have spent my life running (usually red-faced and sweaty) in an attempt to catch up to the image I have for myself. But the truth is, this image did not come from deep within myself. I wish I had realized this years ago, when I was in my teens and trying to stay afloat amidst anxiety attacks, the deepest, darkest hours of depression, and the endless hours of asking “When will I be skinny? When will I be BEAUTIFUL?!” Instead, I spent a great deal of time dedicated to trying to be the “best me” that I could be, while letting everyone else decide who this “me” should be (Apologies for all the rhyming).

This ideal image, of body weight, proportion, complexion (you NAME it), came from years of looking in the wrong direction, and listening to the wrong people. I realize this now, in my twenty-fifth year on this planet, and feel little relief. While this revelation means I can start to begin looking elsewhere, and listening to myself, I still feel utterly lost.

I truly need to rediscover (or perhaps redefine), all over again, what beauty is.

This word we put so much weight on, one that we write poetry about, and some dedicate their lives trying to create, capture, or simply taste.

A coworker/friend of mine had approached me early last week and remarked on how I had stopped working out, because…he decided this was imperative to know…he could tell.¬†Knowing exactly the kind of person he is, I realized immediately that I should not take offense or get upset, but see this as a kind of caring on his behalf. I should see it as more of a “Hey, time to continue on your journey of weight loss!”, and less of a “Hey, time to stop being so fat and disgusting!” But honestly, I am not strong-willed enough to be able to stop that second feeling from drudging in and just devouring the first. After trying to laugh it off and insisting I was trying, I walked away feeling utterly defeated.

But then something happened.

For the first time in my entire life when someone commented on my weight, instead of feeling defeated and disgusting, I felt angry. I was angry that this person could not see beyond my chubby cheeks, my large chest, and my size 14 dress. I was angry that the first thing this person saw when they looked at me, was what I had to fix, instead of what I had that was already so intact and beautiful. I was¬†angry that I had spent the past twenty five years of my life letting other people’s words and actions towards my size make me cower, cry, or conceal myself.

I am here to say that I have in no way figured out how to solve these problems. I am here to say I am still working toward being a better me, a me that is happy and healthy and still understands that my size ten feet and size fourteen dress may or may not fit into that equation. I am here to say that epiphanies are amazing, and life is amazing, and I am so sorry if anyone has ever made you feel like less of a person because of how you look or the kind of clothing you wear. I am here to say that when you look at me, or anyone for that matter, please be aware of all their pieces and parts.

(To be continued)

In high school, and throughout the first half of university, I never stopped writing.

I would write poems, stories, journals; and send them out into the universe. If you asked me at the time, I perhaps would have played coy. But I can honestly say, I wanted more than anything at the time for people to discover them. I felt like I had been writing forever to try and get these feelings out. An attempt to try and tell the people I wanted to talk to the things I wanted them to know.

Music blaring, I would plug away noisily night after night. Waiting for the right person, to find the poem, story, or journal that I had written for them. To tell them that I was sorry for that time I fucked up. To tell them that I was still around, in case they were wondering. To tell them…this is me. I am right here. Please, come find me. Now.

I never truly saw this as a sign of loneliness or desperation, but merely an attempt to reconnect with people I had lost. People I still cared for a great deal, but had lost for whatever reason. I know I have always had an exceptionally hard time comprehending how we are supposed to meet people, get to know them, and utterly fall in love with so many parts of them (romantically or otherwise) and then simply…let go. Why would I ever want to let go of someone that I had grown so close to? Even if we were bad for each other, even if things just didn’t work out, even if we just drifted apart as time went on. They are a living, breathing, person. The idea of letting go of them has always seemed ridiculous.

Perhaps this notion is exactly why I struggle so frequently with thoughts of the past. Biking to work, marking papers, falling asleep. When suddenly I am reminded of them. Not just one person, but a mixture of pieces of them. Pieces of everyone, here and there.

G’s shaggy hair, brilliant smile, loving embrace.

A’s leather coat, watchful glances, beautiful guitar playing.

M’s blue eyes, playful laugh, wrestling escapades.

All of these, beautiful and sometimes sad things, start to weigh me down. As if I am trying to swim but my feet keep getting stuck along the bottom, drudging up all of this mud. My head starts to spin, and I feel like I could lay down with these thoughts and sleep forever.

I have heard of so many mantras, about living in the present and focusing on the now. What it must be like, to maintain a focus on the present day for longer than a few moments at a time. I realize this is symptomatic of my depression, and my anxiety. But I like to believe that there is some positive part of this all. That I am just a person who struggles to let go of others, of their memories or the thoughts of their presence, because it kills me so.

But on the other hand, at what point do I stop dragging myself down? At what point do I finally decide that these crates are important, but not important enough to let the whole damn ship sink.