Hey there, lovelies.
You know how, last week, I wrote a post called Stuck in Limbo, which got super emotional super quickly?
Well, I’m about to do it again, so…yay?
Of course, I’ve been thinking a lot about that post; about blatantly admitting and confessing my mental health is not good; how I’ve warped my worth so badly into believing it’s solely tied to my appearance alone; how it could be considered embarrassing, to be that raw and blunt, even on my own corner of the internet; how irritating it was to cry every day while I was at work last week and having to use old tricks I haven’t used since high school to try and mask any evidence I was crying from my face, so no one would know; how I’m not sure how I truly got to this place of self-hatred once again, experiencing depression levels similar to those I experienced in high school, something that feels so foreign and yet so familiar, all at once.
How blown away I was by your response.
I’ve written about my depression and anxiety here on the blog before, perhaps just never so…unfiltered, as I did last week. I wasn’t expecting much out of the ordinary, in terms of people reading it…if anyone decided to read it at all.
So when I had people responding to me, reaching out to me, and genuinely expressing concern, warmth and help, I was positively floored. From friends on the internet to friends in real life to even coworkers I barely even get to see…the outpouring of love and support was incredible and I am still unsure of what to really say.
I mean, thank you, first of all.
It made me think a little bit more, to try and hone in on what exactly I’m feeling and why I’m so depressed. I mean, shit, I live a good life. I have a job, I’m about to move into an adorable home and get my first puppy, I have a great family and a wonderful boyfriend. I’m able to pursue my passions and I’m generally pretty healthy. Sure, I’m curvier than I want to be, but does that really justify this onslaught of self-hate to continually be my mantra, inside my head?
Because, honestly: what am I hoping to accomplish by being pretty?
That’s the question that floored me and really stuck with me, this past week, as I thought about how so many people were kind enough to reach out and marinated on their responses. Because there’s where the root of the self-hate comes from, honestly. I like who I am as a person. I love what I’m interested in. Certainly, there are ways in which I could still improve myself, of course, but genuinely, I believe I’m a pretty caring, optimistic, giving and funny person. I just don’t like how I look, most of the time. How my lower back isn’t flat and smooth or my love handles stick up out of my jeans sometimes or my thighs always touch.
But why does those things matter so much?
What changes about me if suddenly my lower back is a soft curve rather than a jiggle, my love handles vanish or I suddenly have a thigh gap? I used to think I would never find love, without being pretty. Yet I’ve been in a healthy and happy relationship for the past two years and he is the first to tell my self-hating demons to go back where they came from and never return. I want to go clothes shopping and not dread being able to not find clothes that fit. Except, I can find clothes that fit, I just don’t like that number, that 16 size jeans or x-large tank top. Or how I feel like I can’t wear shorts or dresses or bikinis or dress sexy, because then it’ll show off more of this.
Except, why can’t I?
The only person preventing me from doing it is me.
I know where it all comes from. I was bullied enough as a kid growing up from my appearance to know where this stems. Hell, the subjective messaging that society thrives off of is everywhere, constantly barraging me of what I should look like or what I should do to be approved, to have general worth. Yet I know now how impossible those standards are and I don’t want to adhere to them. And I know my body is much healthier than that ad in the grocery store isle magazine tries to tell me it is. Sure, I wiggle when I walk, but I can run three miles (slow, slow miles) if I want to. I am strong. I can be active if I want to and I can go on adventures and enjoy myself. I may not be stick thin, but I’m not what I call myself during my darkness moments, either. My body is so much more capable than I give it credit for, than I appreciate.
It’s so much more beautiful than I acknowledge.
Because I’m too busy tearing myself down to even try.
And for what? If I suddenly lost 50 pounds, are all my dreams suddenly going to come true? Will I stop living paycheck to paycheck, be able to travel everywhere I want and suddenly have all my books published? If I become what society tells me to be, their version of pretty, of beautiful, of sexy, will all my problems suddenly vanish? Will I become a better person overnight: kinder, more intelligent, more caring, more giving?
Why can’t I be all of those things now? Why can’t I be a good person now, who is known for always wearing a smile on her face and trying her damnedest and still failing sometimes, but she gets up anyway and pushes forward, regardless? Why can’t I go on shopping dates because I want a new outfit or wear those clothes I want now? Why can’t I believe I’m deserving of the love I’ve found and believe it’s real, without an asterisks at the end, adding, “despite these curves and this weight”? Why can’t I believe and be all of those things and still feel value and self-worth, without ever adding the caveat “despite not being skinny”?
Why am I letting a lie from society control my own mental health so highly?
It’s gotten bad, for me. I started running in November 2017 after a guy ghosted me and my heart broke. I kept running because I enjoyed how it made me feel, the runner’s high I got from after a solid run. I was inspired after I began to see my body change and shape into a version that was more in-line with what society demanded, something I never thought I’d see. I stopped for so many reasons, but my greatest, I think, is because of guilt and fear and disappointment; everything I wrote about in that last post. Instead of enjoying it and doing it because I wanted it, I put so much pressure in maintaining a workout schedule that, when I failed to do it, suddenly, I was as worthless as I believed myself to be in high school, even though I know, deep down, that feeling is a lie.
And you all helped call out that lie.
I know this will still be a battle, one that’s not fought and won overnight. Honestly, it will be a battle I will fight until my last breath, one I have fought since 7th grade, when I chose to wear sweatpants and sports jerseys instead of skirts and make-up, outlying me as “other” and suddenly opening up my mind into only one element of the toxic culture we’ve created, suddenly being thrown in my face, because I wasn’t pretty enough.
There will still be days when I feel worthless and that I don’t deserve any happiness or confidence because I’m not skinny. There will be weeks when I work out every day and love it and weeks where I don’t. I still put working out four times this week on my To-Do List and we will see if I get there.
Or maybe I won’t.
But I’ve been so focused on the physical health and what people see; so focused on comparing myself to the success of friends on a similar journey or strangers whose stories I don’t know; that I haven’t even stopped to look at my own mental health, to even see if I’m in a good place to begin with. If I’m talking to myself and about myself in a way that is healthy enough to try and change my body.
Or if I’m starting from the completely wrong place to begin with.
The past couple months have been…hard. It’s gotten so bad, I haven’t even been writing–and that should have been my first sign that something was off and I needed to have a real heart-to-heart with myself. I don’t have a solution, necessarily. I just know that I need to do a better job of taking care of myself, starting with how I think about myself, what I believe about myself and how I treat myself. Because everything I want after I “get skinny,” I can do right now. I can build that confidence and love myself right now, no matter if I start working out four times a week for the rest of my life or never do a formal workout again.
I just have to believe in myself and love myself enough to do it.
Perhaps, like the way you do.
Thanks for that reminder. I hope this post could be a reminder for YOU, too.
You are incredible. You are capable. You are worth it. You are enough.
Right now. In this moment.
Just as you are.