I love you.
I may not always show it- in fact sometimes I’m downright horrible. I tell you how fat, out of shape, old, unorganized, tired, easily overwhelmed, stupid, boring and unmotivated you are. Yet, I beat you up for accepting those messages; if you were stronger- the better you that you should be- you would be confident and happy in the face of anything. You have this deep yearning for peace and acceptance, but an uncanny ability to isolate yourself.
I see you trying to embrace all that you believe intellectually, reading posts on Shape of a Mother and Own Your Beauty, and yet not truly letting it in. It’s as though you have these criteria you have to meet before you deserve the same respect and compassion you feel for others. When listening to the stories of other mothers, you feel like it doesn’t apply to you; you lost the weight you gained in pregnancy pretty easily, but then steadily gained it back and kept going (both times). Motherhood didn’t do this to your body- you did.
The posts on beauty and self love take your breath away, you want to share the messages with all the women in your life, but somehow you’re convinced that if only you were in better shape, or at least were making healthier choices, then you would be worthy of such praise too. The frequent references on these sites or others with similar intents to medical conditions that make women fat or that prevent them from losing weight, just reinforce your belief that this is your fault- due to your own love of junk food, emotional eating, and aversion to real exercise. You don’t have any medical condition that can explain all this wait gain- well unless you count anxiety, depression, sleep deprivation and stress. What’s that, you actually do consider those to be medical conditions that have an impact on weight and health? Yet you hold on to the stigma that it’s not real enough, or that you should be able to snap out of it- you’re aware of the steps you needs to take to look and feel better, why not take them?
That’s a whole lot of crap to pile on yourself, a whole lot of hate and a whole lot of judgment. While I participate in piling it on, I’m also here to stand up and say “hey, take it easy on yourself”. Recently the whole idea of This Is A Woman site and the Value of Each of Us post in particular has started to hit home. You’ve always known that every woman feels pretty much like you do at some point in their life, no matter what they look like, but lately you’re starting to feel that solidarity. You’re also letting yourself play with the idea of feeling good without the condition of health or size.
Sure you still hope to get into better shape, so you’re not bright red and sweaty after walking for 15 minutes, so that you can really play tag with the kids, so that you can stand up and not have to take a minute or two to stretch your back in order to stand straight. And sure you would like to look better- you’d just as soon not have to make up clever responses for when people ask me when you’re due (a whole other post, but incidentally my favourite reply is “3 years ago” but I rarely have the guts to use it).But for now I am working at being happy with you, loving you, feeling good.
Step one is the pair of skinny jeans you bought a few weeks back, I was beyond skeptical, but when you see that kind of variety in plus size clothes, you have to at least try them on out of curiosity- from the second you did them up I was in love! You barely even cared to look in the mirror, just looking down at yourself and feeling what might be the best fitting jeans you have ever owned was enough and clearly a foreign enough feeling that you’re still raving about it. Now of course it’s not really about the jeans, no matter how fabulous they are; it’s about the shift in focus. You don’t love the jeans because you think you look good to other people in them, you love them because you feel good and that’s enough. There a spring in your step as you look down at your legs and feet while walking along with your headphones blaring Amanda Palmer, The New Pornographers or the Yeah Yeah Yeahs- enjoy the weather and enjoy yourself.
Step two appears to be writing this letter you, to finally give voice to and acknowledge what I’ve been putting you through.
And step three is to say take a deep breath, give you a Happy Hug, say good night and pray, not for miraculous changes or a new outlook, but that you get a good sleep and that tomorrow some of this has stuck with you.
Someone amazing told me recently that “You are strong. You are smart. You are beautiful. You are loved.” I think maybe he is right.
Lolo with love.