Where I Am Now…

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Trigger warning: This post is about self/body image, eating disorders and depression. Please chose carefully whether to read or not.

Please know this writing reflects MY perceptions about ME and not my views on weight/appearance in general.

I have no intention of hurting or upsetting anyone. This post is about me, for me. 


I can’t do the “self love” thing.

I see positive quotes and affirmations everyday on Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter and, although I think they are lovely sentiments, I simply cannot relate to them.

I do quite like myself… insofar as I think I’m a basically good person and I can be funny and smart and creative.

But love myself? No. That’s not a thing I can do.

I have an unhealthy relationship with my body.

I am not sure I was ever happy with it. No wait, that’s not true. As a young teen I was blissfully free of body issues. If anything, I was precociously aware of my sexuality and its power and I enjoyed dressing in a way that raised eyebrows or had some shock value. I could probably have been described as jailbait!

At 19 I settled into what has turned out to be my lifelong relationship. I was a normal, healthy weight for my height of 5′. I had curves in all the right places and was relaxed about diet and exercise. It simply wasn’t an issue.

Somewhere along the way, after getting married at 26, I gained a lot of weight. It happened to both of us, slowly but steadily until, one day, it hit me that I had reached the weight of 144lbs, which was, (for me), too heavy for my short height. I was physically tired from carrying the extra weight and felt bad in and about myself.

It was around this time that I also realised our relationship had been coasting along. We had grown into an “old married couple” that took each other for granted and lived a very ‘unconscious’ shared life.

This was when I entered what I called my “rage years”.

This is when everything changed.

I began to exercise with a furious energy and started to very carefully watch what I ate and drank. Food became a necessary evil… it was fuel I needed in order to function and nothing else. Food became the enemy. It had to be consumed in order to live so I consumed the bare minimum that I needed to exist.

Food was no longer about pleasure or comfort or enjoyment.

I hated, with a burning, raging passion what I had become. It symbolised to me how out of control I had ‘allowed’ my life to become. (In retrospect, it’s clear that, amongst other things, being diagnosed with a life changing and incurable illness must have played a massive part in my sudden need to rest establish control over something.)

I kept a strict daily journal of every single thing that I ate, complete with its calorific content, (which I still have to this day, as a reminder to myself of where I was at that time).

I woke early to exercise before breakfast, then I would walk for miles, return home and exercise again. I pushed myself to the extreme and beyond.

People asked me if I was anorexic and I scoffed at them. Me???? No! I was just being healthy!

I said this whereas, in reality, most days I didn’t reach anywhere near 1000 calories by bedtime, usually taking in between 600-800. Coupled with the intense activity I was doing I can’t imagine what my actual calorie intake was.

My periods stopped for three years.

I had to have bone density scans.

I was constantly cold. I wore jeans and a fleece whilst on holidays in The Canaries for three years in a row.

I had panic attacks at the thoughts of having to eat any food I did not have 100% control over, to the extent that it impacted on family gatherings and events. I recall clearly one day, feeling so incredibly hungry and craving something substantial so badly that I agreed to go for lunch with the OH. I ordered a burrito and, as it arrived, I began to hyperventilate and cry because I wanted it so badly but simultaneously felt completely disgusted at myself for wanting it. He was at a loss for what to do with me.

I reached my lowest weight of 88lbs.

I was always sporting bruises because my hipbones protruded to the extent that they constantly knocked off things. My stomach was concave. The bones of my spine, with no body fat to protect them, made sleeping on my back uncomfortable. Sleeping on my side required a pillow between my legs to prevent my knee bones grinding off each other.

Was I happy?

I never believed I was ‘slim’ enough! I looked at my profile in the mirror and saw my ribs and hipbones standing out but my eyes would wander to the area under my navel. I now know there was NOTHING there but I remember somehow seeing what I called a belly… I had no belly… I had internal organs, a digestive system and a uterus that had to go somewhere and my frame was so tiny I mistook them for a ‘belly’.

It is clear to me now that, although I thought I was exercising some form of self-love by ‘being healthy’, I had in fact simply found a new way to hate myself. I was punishing my body by denying it nourishment, pleasure and rest. Even as I achieved every weight loss goal I aimed for, I was never at peace. I saw an ugly, disgusting person in the mirror. One who would never be good enough.

I was referred to an endocrinologist to investigate my amenorrhea. My GP did her best to convince me I was underweight and in need of more food, “Ease up on yourself Kat, have a snack in the afternoon.”

I am not sure at what point I began to try to stop my rigorous regime. I can honestly say that period of my life is blurry at best. But, scared at the loss of my periods and the prospect of osteoporosis, I did relax my exercising and extreme calorie counting.

Last year I reached a happy weight of 98lbs.

Well, I say happy…

I understood, logically, that for my body to function I needed the extra pounds, but I still struggled with the idea of gaining weight and watched my intake very carefully and still worked out. I was still wearing clothes from H&M kids section. I could still wrap my fingers around my thigh with room to spare as it measured 12″ circumference in my age 11 jeans.

But…

Somewhere along the course of the past year I have… You guessed it…

I have found a NEW way to hate myself, yay!

I have been comfort eating and drinking more wine than I should. I eased up on myself gradually; allowing that extra glass of wine, that lunch out, that afternoon snack.

I noticed some weight creeping on…

My age 11 jeans were no longer comfortable. I, for the first time in years, had to shop in the adult sections and moved up to size 6.  (I can hear the pissed off groans now as people voice their scorn… Yes of course a size 6 is still small… but from my warped perspective I had failed.)

I am currently, in my opinion, carrying too much weight at 128lbs. I feel uncomfortable, unattractive and very unfit. I am breathless and overheated almost all the time.

Most of all I feel that I have let myself down. I feel disgust and shame about it.

I have been torturing myself by looking back at photos of when I was thinner… it is making me feel worse, like even more of a failure.

So… I need to finally address this.

Why do I hate myself?

Why do I find the concept of self-love so alien?

Why do I think I do not deserve inner peace, acceptance and happiness?

My self-hatred is deeply ingrained in me from an early age.

I can trace some of my unhappiness back to my childhood. Hang on, I can trace it all back there…  I never felt comfortable or relaxed as a kid. I toyed with some self-harm as a teen and made an unsuccessful suicide attempt at 17. I just didn’t want to be here.

I had what most people would consider a ‘good’ upbringing. I was never hungry, there was always food on the table, I was sent to very good schools. But there are other things a child needs beyond those.

I suspect I know where this self-hatred originates but to face that feels just too overwhelming.

What am I to do?

Will it ever change?

Do you hate me for writing this?

💋

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17 thoughts on “Where I Am Now…

  1. Oh, babe, I can’t tell you how much I recognise some of this. I loathed myself as a teenager, becoming calorie obssessed, throwing up if I ate anything more than a slice of dry toast, bingeing when the cravings became too much – throwing up again. The self loathing later morphed into exercise. And you’re right, it’s a way of regaining control – you feel powerless with other aspects of your life and the one thing you can control is your size.
    I have never felt comfortable in my own skin – always awkward, rarely attractive. I’ve only found all this easier as I’ve got older – I care less how I look and enjoy being an ‘older’ lady who’s largely ignored.
    I don’t know what the answer is for you. You know how much the OH loves you, but being told these things can sink without trace in the hollow where your self worth should be.
    Just always remember he loves you, and such a great guy wouldn’t love someone so much if they didn’t deserve it.
    You’re a sweety, sending you my love X

  2. No one will hate you for this… I think most will identify. I would imagine the majority of humans (and especially, but not limited to women) have experienced similar, though we all deal differently. You know my struggles with the same issue, swinging to the other end of the spectrum.

    And we’ve all been touched and shaped in ways we can’t control. What I personally am learning is, the physical is window dressing. It is NOT who you are. It will change a million times over a lifetime. The people who love you love YOU, and don’t give a shit about what you look like, what size you wear, where you shop. We want you present.

    And when you can’t bring yourself to love yourself, that’s what those people are for. We’ll do it for you.

    Hugs. sis.

  3. I don’t have time to read all comments. I can totally relate. Not to the being too thin thing, that never happened to me, probably never will. I am closer to bulimia than anorexia. Except I decided, as a way to punish myself, that I would NOT allow myself to make myself puke when I overate. So I gained weight.
    Right now, today, I feel a bit like crap (there are other reasons behind it, I just may get to write about them). I feel fat, unattractive and plain ugly. I ate some comfort food chocolate about 3hours ago, and I can still feel it in my stomach.
    Most of the time, I feel good about myself. I know I’m attractive in my own way, though I do understand I’m not everyone’s cup of tea. Why do I still hate myself at times? I’m not sure 100%, but I have a sense that it is deeply rooted in childhood, even infancy.
    I know for a fact that, as an infant as young as a few weeks old, my father physically prevented my mother from coming to feed me. I think when something like this happens to a baby so young, who has no idea in what ways love/caring/satisfaction are different, it messes with your whole belief system. And when I start to doubt myself again, then… I turn to food. And hate myself even more for it.
    I started to read a book called the emotionally absent mother. I think I need to keep working on it.

    All the best to you. Thank you for writing this, it makes me more aware that I too have a problem. And that I need to sort it out.

    XO

    • Dawn I don’t know what to say…
      That part about your infancy is truly shocking and incredibly sad. It breaks my heart to hear what people have experienced.
      One thing that writing this piece has taugh me is that more people than I imagined have been through very similar experiences as us… People who present as very confident and strong… It shows how we are all carrying something around inside us, no matter how “put together” we appear to the outside world.
      I really do hope you find whatever support and help you need to confront your demons. I wish you only good things in the future and hope you can overcome your self hatred… I know what a toxic thing it is.
      Sending you love.
      X

      • Well, see, the thing is, he thought he was doing what was right, teaching us the difference between night and day. He didn’t know any better, having been raised by a (probably PTSD sufferer) authoritative dad himself. And my mom… she just didn’t know she could stand up for herself and for us. My reason knows what happened and why. My subconscious still has trouble letting it go…
        But I agree, it’s only when we speak up that we realise that others had experiences much more similar to ours than we would have thought. I still struggle with the despisement I sometimes feel towards my body. But I’m getting much better about it now 🙂
        It only comes in bouts, particularly when I feel insecure in other areas of my life. I’m healing.
        As I told my kid: I stopped Weightwatchers because I needed to learn to love my body just as it is before I could do something about it. Losing weight to fit someone else’s idea of what was attractive did me more harm than good.
        So I’m on my way. I hope you find a way to love yourself fully soon too 🙂
        Thanks for the love. It’s welcome, always 😀
        Sending some back!
        XO

      • I guess parents do as best as they know how to… It makes me think of that poem This Be The Verse.
        You are so right, we need to accept ourselves as we are and not feel the need to conform to someone’s else’s definition of beauty. It’s hard to do though! I agree also about having more vulnerable times when the self hatred flares up. I suppose we need to identify those triggers and deal with them. Again… Not easy!
        X

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