This post is a very personal one because I've never openly shared this aspect of my life. To be honest, I'm nervous just posting it! But perhaps it’ll resonate with others too and I find healing in sharing my vulnerability.
Since the age of twelve, I’ve been overweight. All of my adult life I’ve been overweight. But since the age of twelve I’ve also thought something was wrong with me because I was overweight.
I was then and still am a very physically active person, eat healthy meals, and could tell you in perfect detail about the Weight Watchers program (lost 50lbs once) and how best to train for a 5K race.
Yet still, I've cried many times asking “what is wrong with me? Why can’t I actually lose/keep off weight?” and each time I do, I feel myself sinking more and more into a cycle of obsession around my body, my food, my thoughts – my whole essence as a person.
It's utterly exhausting to think this way about yourself.
I recently re-read a phenomenal booked called “Women, Food & God” by Geneen Roth, which explores the mirroring relationship we have with food and our connection to the divine. I had been meaning to re-read it, but was avoiding it because I knew I wasn’t listening to the core message. I knew I needed to get real, but just wasn't ready to face it.
But after an extensive bought of self-loathing (a-la my bitchfest post) around my weight & body image, I finally had enough. I told my boyfriend one evening
“I’m so fucking tired of thinking about food, my body and beating myself up over everything I do and don't do to it. I’m done dieting, done tracking points, done second guessing myself, and done believing that something is wrong with me.”
If it's not broken, don't fix it
I wanted to latch on to this “something is wrong with me…” belief, so I meditated and sat with it. Quickly an image came up and I identified it as “The Repairer.” I literally envisioned a frantic man pulling levers, tightening pipes, working around the clock, urgently addressing every single “problem” I had. My repairer was constantly plugging holes and making busy work. It was exhausting just envisioning him!
But then I asked myself…”Has my repairer actually EVER fixed anything?”
The answer came quickly ---- a resounding NO. None of my "problems" have ever been fixed, I still worry, still fret, still glare at my stomach sometimes, still think my bank account is pathetic, still think that a former boss screwed me over, still..still…still…..you get the idea.
I’m overweight because in my mind, it’s a problem that will always need addressing. But that idea is a trick – without my “fix-it mentality” I’m not sure what to work on or what to point a finger at to blame for my troubles. If I just work harder, then it'll be better, right? But really, that payoff will never come. Hello Sisyphus!
The repairer is just a fictional character I created to make me believe I'm doing myself a huge favor by "fixing problems", when really; he's just blowing smoke over my eyes.
I told my repairer “You’re on permanent vacation” and he left -- then I was totally alone. My stomach went hollow and I automatically felt hungry, but I knew it was a trick – a test to see how I would handle life without my repairer telling me to grab something to subside the “hunger.”
It’s not real hunger – its fear of actually letting something go “unfixed," so I stayed with the sensation, felt my body tense, felt my mind fret -- until eventually, I knew I was actually OK; that the feeling of hunger was just a call for greater compassion and attention to my own needs.
And then it struck me– if I removed the need to fix, then I also removed the idea that I was broken too! And if I wasn’t broken, then I wouldn’t have to feel guilt or shame when my tummy shows or feel self-conscious in sleeveless shirts.
If I’m not broken, then I’m able to accept myself for who I really am – an incredibly creative, tenacious, funny, intelligent woman who smiles at nearly everyone she meets. Oh, and is adored by lots and lots of amazing people :)
This was a lot to soak in...but I felt a great sense of peace and calm wash over me.
I then lied down with my boyfriend for about an hour, just hugging one another -- and that feeling of warmth and love was way more delicious than any chocolate covered pretzel could produce.
What happens now?
It’s been just about a week since I let my repairer go and I’ve already noticed a big change. Food isn’t medicine; it’s just something I use to nourish without judgment. And if I have an extra piece of chocolate, that’s OK – I know the difference between wanting chocolate to sooth versus cleaning my palate.
It's such a relief to authentically trust myself.
It may take a lifetime to fully appreciate what a broken-less life looks like, but now I have an exceptionally powerful glimpse into myself and the transformation of something that has been a source of pain for far too long.
Will I ever wear a bikini?* I’m not sure – but I’m not going to beat myself up over it any longer :)
UPDATE: August 25, 2014.
What happened in two years? EVERYTHING. Oh, and I wore that bikini and I ROCKED IT.