…I have body image issues. (Wee! Look! It’s in bold!)
What? Did you really think that I was going to do a major disservice to the Mori Lee mermaid-flare wedding gown (and the premium bar) and tell you that I was pregnant? Sorry, all parents, No. Not yet. We have two kids, those will have to suffice for a bit longer.
This post is for me – I have been neglecting to address a problem that brings issue (me being down and then dragging him down) into my normally issue-free relationship. I would also imagine, here very soon, it is going to start getting in the way of how my daughter sees herself as a young woman. She will be 11 in May… and if I don’t address this now, she is going to pick up on some of the things I do and the way that I talk about myself (not good).
Seeing Cindy Crawford’s untouched photos hit a nerve for me… because it forced me to address my own issues. Seeing Cindy Crawford with stretchmarks, and loose skin, and a little cellulite. “Holy shit! Don’t people consider her one of those most beautiful women in America?” I kind of sat there staring at the photo for longer than people would deem appropriate for a straight woman to be looking at another woman… but I was sizing myself up. I have lost 100 pounds and I rest at a rather uncomfortable, for me, 145lbs. ::GASP:: There, I said it. It’s out loud… Now people know. I am on days when I am schlubby, or bloated, or drank way too many fruity cocktails the night before, or haven’t done my usual 5 mile runs in many days, a size 6 in jeans with no stretch. I am less often in jeans and more commonly in slacks which, most, are a size 4. Most sweaters are a size small, and most stretch pants and yoga pants are also a size small. Shouldn’t I be completely happy with that?
I obsess over these details, those numbers. Those numbers interrupt my happiness, my relationship, my self-confidence… and a multitude of other things. Nobody would look at me and say “She’s fat, or chubby, or overweight.” (At least I hope not…) Because I have allowed what is in my head to become a “reality” for me. I had a hard time enjoying my wedding dress try-on because I was seeing something else in the mirror – and it wasn’t until my aunt sent me cell phone photos of me at various angles that I realized that I was seeing something very different in the mirror than what other people were seeing with their eyes.
I eat healthy. I try to stick to non-processed (Paleo-ish), and don’t do many carbs at all. I don’t drink soda. I don’t really care for too many sweets. But, life was once a lot different for me. I ate whatever I wanted and I was very unhealthy. I decided that I didn’t want to be “fat” anymore at 235lbs (Once I actually started weighing myself)… I changed it. I couldn’t stand to be that person anymore… however, I thought that going from a size ~18 to a size 4 would change me, the me that lives underneath the surface. It didn’t. It changed the number on the scale, and the size on the tags of my clothing. The demons can be dark and very unforgiving… they can play tricks on you… one second, you are fine, the next, you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror…
“Oh my god… is my stomach starting to pooch out over my pants…”
“God, look at how THICK my thighs look in these pants, those can’t be muscles… maybe I should stop doing so much leg-related exercises at the gym. maybe I shouldn’t do squats anymore… that will make this better.”
“Maybe if I just wear a sweatshirt at the gym and sweat profusely on my normal run… the scale won’t be up two pounds.”
The number on that scale has virtually ruled my life now since September of 2007 when I decided it was time to not have triglycerides through the roof and a BMI in the “Obese” range. Don’t get me wrong, I am INCREDIBLY proud of myself – because most people cannot do what I have done… but why wasn’t/isn’t this, where I am, enough? Because even though my BMI is now normal, and my blood work is better than OK, it’s perfect (and according to the doctor, something others should aspire to with my Good Cholesterol!), I still cannot stop fixating on the numbers. Those numbers will get me EVERY time. Having an HDL of 86 is practically safeguarding me from ever having heart disease, but somehow, that number doesn’t matter.. I’ll entertain you with a little story of how serious those numbers have become to me over 8 years. After losing the 100 pounds, and having two babies, I was left with absolutely nothing for breasts. (Alright, we’re all adults here…) Nothing. I had lost a lot of my weight, and they went right on out with it (#ByeFelicia, style, laugh if you get this joke…). I felt like my femininity was taken away. I felt boy’ish with hour-glassy curves… but no chest. I felt incredibly down about my “new” body. I had traded one evil, for another. I was buying cute new clothes, but crying in the dressing room looking at the very obvious sag on the “presentation” side of my body. I never felt like I needed to change my chin, or my nose (Hmm…ok, no not my nose either), or my cheek bones, nor have I ever wanted to pump anything into my lips. These…these were related directly, for me, to feeling like a woman.
I got breast implants, not a big shocker there, most people know, nor is it something I feel any need to keep a secret. I did it – and I do not regret it – ever – not today – not in ten years when I might need new ones – not if I fall and pop one… (hehe. Find some wood and knock on it for me…) I will *NEVER* regret that decision, because I felt like a FEMALE again… and that for me was worth every red cent. I did it for me. It was never about being a sexual figure, I was married at the time. It was about looking in that mirror without clothes on and feeling like a woman.
After my implants in April of 2012, I got divorced shortly thereafter, lost a little bit more weight over sadness, anxiety, heartbreak… I had to go back to my primary care physician for a checkup. I had to get on the scary-accurate scale with my clothing on, and anyone who knows how women are who obsess over the scale, getting onto the scale with clothing on makes the next hour or so a math problem… “Ok, I am wearing jeans today… those are heavy, like 3/4 a pound, I drank A LOT of coffee, so that has to weigh something in my body.”
Dr. M came into the room and asked me how the procedure went and how I was feeling, etc, asked me normal questions about the type of antibiotics they used… other medications that they had me on…. and then I blurted out, mid-sentence.
“How much do they weigh?!”
Dr. M: “How much does what weigh?”
“The implants. How much do they weigh? If I tell you how many cc’s they are, can you tell me how much they weigh?”
Dr. M: “Well, silicone is roughly the same density as water. (Pulls his iPhone out of his front pocket, opens to the calculator app) You’re looking at roughly 3 pounds, combined.”
“Oh, ok, so I will just deduct that amount any time I get on the scale.”
Dr. M looked at me strangely… “You know they are a part of your body now… you can’t just ‘deduct’ them.”
“No, of course I can! They aren’t fat. They aren’t pounds indicative of indiscretions… or that should be associated with my BMI – because they aren’t FAT! They are SILICONE!”
Dr. M: “Ok, I do get your point, but perhaps you should get over the issue of obsessing over the scale before you get too caught up in medical junk like “BMI”… it’s a good guideline but it really screws women over who are muscular like yourself, because muscles really do weigh more than fat…”
“GREAT! THANKS! BYE. DR. M!!!”
And I was off… Free into the world to take that information and add it to my repertoire of obsessive bad habits.
That was over two years ago, and not a lot has changed. I have found that when I am at my most sad, and my most depressed, I work out a LOT more… Coming out of my last relationship, I spent 5-7 days a week in the gym because I just couldn’t keep my head above water long enough to stop thinking of the pain and sadness – the treadmill gave me relief from that for an hour, or more, a day. Drew and I have found, in this relationship, for us, we are each other’s preferred friend. We like to do a lot of things together because we share a lot of the same interests. We love food and live music and we love our TV shows. So, we do a lot of that together, especially since I am still in school we tend to spend our free time together. We savor the time we have together because we are both really busy, throw in kids, etc, and we spend less time in the gym. Somehow, all of that has cultivated the perfect storm of Alyssa being wildly happy with her relationship and choice of partner, Alyssa eating out more often than she normally would because I have another person with income living in the house and we both love food, and we are spending less time in the gym and more time doing extracurricular activities together because our time for quality is more limited… and that means Alyssa leaving the house after dumping onto Drew about how upset I am with myself, or my kids seeing me in tears over what others see as nonsense.
Honestly, it’s very real for me. And, its time to address it, because Drew deserves a happy wife. And my daughter really deserves a healthy example of how she should feel about her body. The media hasn’t helped me any, and neither has social networking, but its time to start re-programming – not only for them – but I deserve it, for me, too. I’ve worked too hard to not be happy in this one skin, for this one life.