Struggling with how I feel about myself lately. It’s easier for me to be upbeat and put on my crown when I don’t fucking care what anyone thinks of me. But that’s just not the case right now.
I have a long history of being told I’m unattractive and annoying. I could cite examples for you but you don’t care about that. I’m not unique in my feelings or experiences. I’d say most people have been made to feel like the meat they’re wearing isn’t wagyu. And we each deal with our own feelings of inadequacy in varying ways. This is one of the ways I deal. Whining about it on the internet.
But for the sake of the mean voices in my head, I will share a few things. Maybe writing it down and letting strangers read my private pain will shut the voices up for a while. (Spoiler alert: it won’t.)
I don’t know if I’ve written about this before but I think I probably have. Nonetheless, I’m gonna write about it again.
I’d say one of my core memories is the weekend I went to visit my mom when I was maybe 10 and her husband at the time told me I looked like a fat, pregnant girl. He and my mom did a little mini intervention with me that weekend. They put me on a scale. I weighed around 90 lbs. My mother was appalled. She only weighed 95 lbs when she graduated from high school, she told me. My stepdad’s family had all been talking about me. They were shocked when, at Thanksgiving, I’d gotten seconds of green beans. Everyone was talking about how much I ate. If I didn’t lose weight and didn’t work to stay thin, no one would ever want me and I’d never have a career, they said. I spent that weekend crying. When I went back to my dad’s that week, I coped by letting myself eat as many oatmeal cream pies as I wanted. (I’m down with OCPs. Yeah, you know me.)
When I was 18, my stepmom had a talk with me. She was worried I’d never get a boyfriend if I didn’t lose weight. I weighed around 140 lbs, maybe. I didn’t often weigh myself back then because I usually felt ok about my body so I really don’t know exactly what I weighed. But, clearly, I was heavy enough to warrant another talking to from a caregiver. I needed to be reminded that my worth only comes from my physical form and I’d only find love if that form was thin.
When I got married, I weighed around 125 lbs. If I go back and look at my wedding pictures, all I see is how fat my upper arms were. I think about what someone, who I thought was a friend, said to my ex-husband right after we got married. “Don’t let her just sit around. She’ll get fat.” There really isn’t a good reason for my ex-husband to have told me that. But he did. And it stuck in my head. Clearly, the worst thing that I could be was fat. This was the message the universe wanted me to understand. Yes, I’d managed to find love, beyond all reason since I’d been warned so many times that I was not thin enough to attract a mate. But if I wasn’t careful, I’d lose that mate.
And then all their predictions came true. I developed hypothyroidism. I noticed something was wrong with my body. I went to doctors who told me I just needed to eat right and exercise. Doctors are so smart. It took about 15 years to get a diagnosis of hypothyroidism and to get on medication. My weight fluctuated and ballooned. At my heaviest I weighed around 250 lbs. No diet or exercise regime did anything to affect my weight or alleviate the other symptoms that plagued me. The only thing that I could tell myself to bring me any comfort when I hated my body and my appearance was, “At least Nick loves me. At least he wants me and thinks I’m beautiful.”
Now, Nick is gone. Our parting was traumatic for me to say the least. And amongst one of the many things I lost when we split up, was the ability to say “at least he wants me”. Twenty-one years of propping up my self-esteem with that stupid, idiotic statement like a crutch, only to have that crutch ripped from me and burned in the funeral pyre of my marriage.
The last year and a half has been a collection of journeys that I’m traveling all at once. Clearly, one of those journeys has been to try to figure out how I feel about this body that’s been deemed too fat to be loved so many times. Sometimes I look in the mirror and see a beautiful woman. But that’s not the case most days.
Full, vulnerable honesty: I cannot imagine a world where anyone is sexually attracted to me, even if I’ve had sex with that person. For some reason, I still find it hard to believe they could actually be attracted to me. I can already hear your arguments on this so just know that I have all sorts of convoluted logic to make that make sense in my head.
A lot of my female friends hype me up when I post selfies. I always take it as females boosting females. That’s what we do for each other. But not one of them sees me as a sexual being. “Sexy”, “gorgeous”, “hot”, etc. are all just ladies trying to boost my self-esteem. I won’t say it’s not appreciated. Of course, I love to read those comments. I want to believe I’m those things. And when I don’t really care if anyone finds me attractive, I can actually almost believe I am those things.
Lately, I just can’t see it. It really sucks to want someone to find you attractive. “I want you to want me,” lyrics that were written just for me, I’m sure.
I have a lifetime of internalized bullshit to unlearn. Caregivers whose idea of care was metaphorically kicking me in the self-esteem bone in order to “help” me be the best version of myself. (Apparently, the best version of myself is thin and hot and has a man who wants a hot, thin woman.) Instead of spending those 21 years of marriage learning to love my body and myself, I leaned on the idea that I’d found love already and that his love was all I needed to sustain myself. What a poetic load of manure.
At the beginning of this post I said that sharing my private pain with strangers wouldn’t really help me feel better. Surprise! I was wrong. I do feel better. Marginally. (And this is why I write this shit. It actually does help sometimes.) I’m getting to the end here and it’s just kinda hitting me that this IS a journey and I have to keep going. I think I can learn to love my body. It may be possible to think I’m attractive. I might even get to the place where I believe people are sexually attracted to me. (Don’t start. I know my thoughts on this are absurd and illogical. I’m working on it, okay?)
I guess where I am landing on this subject is that it’s not hopeless. I have a lot of healing to do. I have to learn to love myself. It’s not something I’ve ever made much of a priority. I’ve always put my efforts into showing others my love for them and I kinda just forgot about myself. I’ve never seen myself as particularly important. In fact, I usually see myself as invisible. (Topic for another emo post, on another emo day.) But maybe, just maybe, it’s time to change all that. I don’t know how to change the way I see myself but I’m gonna work on it. Because I hate feeling like this.
Maybe instead of “I want you to want me”, I should start singing, “I want me to want me”. Idk. I’ll get there.
Post Script: After posting this, I got to thinking. My love languages are quality time and words of affirmation. Maybe the way to learn to love myself is to just spend meaningful time by myself, hyping my own self up. Idk. It’s a start.