We are leaving for vacation next, which should have me jumping for joy, but instead I’ve been sucked into a pretty massive tornado of self-loathing – a “self-shaming shit-storm”, if you will. 🤪
You see, I could tell you all day long that I don’t care what anyone thinks of me, but that wouldn’t be the truth. Sure, I can talk about my addiction honestly and openly, but that’s only because I’ve built up a fair amount of shame resilience with regards to the stigma attached to my illness. My weight, on the other hand, is harder for me to accept because I haven’t quite learned to forgive myself, or my body, for changing so much over the years.
So, I decided to re-read one of my favorite books – The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown, in hopes of building my confidence prior to leaving next week. If you ever find yourself in a self-loathing, self-shaming shit-storm like me, I suggest you read it too! It’s brilliant!
When I opened the book, I thought I was simply looking for ideas on how to survive a Florida vacation in my not-so-perfect body, when I discovered that I have more than weight loss to worry about, I’m also a chronic perfectionist – and as it pertains to my weight and appearance, it is often crippling.
As I’m scribbling down notes and thinking to myself, “Ughhhhh! Brene! Why you gotta do my like this?!?” I started to wonder when this idea of perfectionism swept into my life, and how many ways it truly impacts my sense of worthiness today?
I know it impacts me at work, because anytime I make a mistake I basically pound my head against the wall and tell myself I will never be successful.
It impacts my ability to host parties at my home, because I am so over-the-top worried about everything being perfect that I forget to even enjoy myself.
And then there is my appearance, and this is the one I think is going to be a tough one to conquer. Somewhere along the line, somewhere between birth and 36 years old, I learned that success and happiness is a direct result of external appearance. If I am thin and beautiful I will find love, happiness, success and acceptance. I will have worth as a human being.
Because of this, as my body has changed with age, I have basically become an insufferable bully to it. I blame it for my unhappiness and my feelings of unworthiness. I call it names – fat, cow, gross, disgusting. I treat it poorly, feed it unhealthy food and never give it the thanks it deserves for the years I spent trying to destroy it with alcohol.
I put so much weight (no pun intended 🤪) on my appearance that I completely forgot the cardinal rule of self-acceptance – my external appearance has absolutely nothing to do with my worthiness as a human being.
I used to think this was just a bullshit lie people said to make me feel better about myself, but today I absolutely believe it to be true. Now, believing it and applying it in my own life, are entirely different things. And that’s where I need work.
I was talking to some women the other night about how these feelings of inadequacy have been impacting my life lately – how my confidence is low, I feel unworthy and unloveable – and one of them looked at me and said something so simple and profound it kind of blew my mind. She is super thin too btw, so my immediate instinct was to think that she had no idea how to relate…but as usual, my first thought was wrong. She said, “When I am struggling with my body, and it’s not doing what I want it to do – I have major anxiety, joint pain, etc. – I stop and I just quietly thank my body for all it does for me. I say, ‘thank you for working so hard so that I can enjoy this life. Thank you for giving me the ability to walk, run and play. Thank you for keeping my heart beating as I focus on living.’”
Wow…she was right. Our bodies, no matter what size, are incredible things.
So today, I am working on thanking my body instead of hating it. Thanking it for allowing me to have eyes that see, ears that listen, a heart that beats and legs that allow me to take my daughter to Disney World with my family for an entire week. I am reminding myself that I do not have to be in EVERY picture, but my weight shouldn’t stop me from being in some of them.
Being beautiful won’t make me any smarter. Being thin won’t payoff my debt any faster. Having perfect skin won’t make me a better mother. And being overweight won’t make me any worse at those things either. And when I am ready, I will lose the weight, I know I will. But when I do, it will be because I want to do it for myself and my health – NOT because I want anyone else’s approval of me.
Look at that! I’m conquering shame one vulnerable moment at a time. 😍