I came across this website after following a link at the bottom of an article on government fiscal policy of all things.
Without reading a single story, just the opening statement, I found myself in tears. Not a soft, delicate, salty trickle of shared sadness, but a harsh, tsunami of tears, so hot I thought my cheeks would blister. If my reaction to this site took anyone by surprise, it was certainly myself. But with those tears came a sudden epiphany – a deep and startlingly profound understanding of myself, and how I see myself and, hence, my world.
I have always had body image issues. As a young teen I was a curvy, top heavy size 12 and my friends model thin, flat chested size 6 and 8. There has never been a time in my life where I haven’t been focussed on my weight, my size or my shape to one degree or another, and not in a positive way. When I look back now, I am amazed at how good I looked as a teen and I feel sadness that I was so obsessed with wanting to be Kate Moss thin like my friends that I didn’t appreciate how healthy and normal I was.
I had my first child at 19, my second at 22, my third at 31. Each pregnancy saw me stay a little heavier and my body shape change a little more, but I wasn’t obsessed by it, even though I was still always dieting and wanting to look better and thinner. Overall it was ok – my, then, husband liked my body, I was still a size 13/14, and my baby pouch which had nurtured our three babies, was just a part of me.
When my marriage failed everything changed. I found myself in another relationship with an attractive, successful and yet, on reflection, controlling and misogynistic man who had me constantly apologising for my weight and size and just about every other aspect of me. When I fell pregnant naturally at age 43, he stopped touching me – wouldn’t come near me, all physical, and emotional, connection ceased suddenly, and he started a string of affairs with numerous women that continued until I left the relationship with an 18 month old baby and a very differently sized and shaped body. If I thought my body changed after pregnancy in my 20’s and 30’s I didn’t know what to think about the changes from a pregnancy and a natural birth in my early 40’s.
I’ve been living on my own for a year now, but in reality I’ve been alone for three, and if I am honest much longer, as I now know the affairs started before the pregnancy. I suffered severe post natal depression, which continues now as just regular garden variety depression since my daughter is now 26 months old.
Every aspect of my life has deteriorated, including my once successful career, and relationships with my older children, family and friends have been affected and infected as I have isolated myself. I have no confidence, no self esteem, no value in myself. The simple act of dressing every morning is an emotional hurdle finding something to wear that “minimises my fatness”.
I feel inferior to colleagues at work, embarrassed taking my daughter to toddler dance class because of what the other mothers might think of me, I avoid time with dear old school friends because I am embarrassed. I would like an intimate relationship, but can’t even contemplate that a man I would find attractive would even give me a second look – overweight, cellulite, saggy breasts and a, now, very pronounced baby pouch.
If the father of my child rejects me because of how I look, how my body is, how can I expect anyone else to accept me
My epiphany is that I suddenly realised I have allowed the loathing and hate I have for my body to determine the self-image I have in every aspect of my life. And that’s stupid. How I look doesn’t affect my skill at work, or the love I have for my children and family or the quality of my friendships. I’ve spent the last few years investing in tummy tamers, hold me in undies and fantasising about affording a boob job, tummy tuck, arm thinning, liposuction and a multitude of other surgeries to make me “acceptable” to the world.
The reality is, if I do not love me, I can never let anyone else love me. Self-sabotage is a vicious disease.
My body tells my story –every bump, lump, lovehandle, stretchmark and wrinkle – but it does not define who I am. If people can’t see beyond the lumps and bumps on my body that tell my story they doesn’t deserve to be part of that story
I need to see beyond the lumps and bumps on my body that tell my story. I need to accept and love and like myself.
And I suspect that there are going to be a lot more tears before I can do that.