Some people are easygoing, agreeable, able to bend without breaking. For as long as I’ve been self-aware, that person has not been me. I have always wanted to be in control, hating be told what to do or, more accurately, what not to do. I’ve always thought I’m right in any situation far more than I’m not. I’ve been this assertive, sometimes bossy, independent, “dare-you-to-defy-me” type. In all aspects of my life except with my innermost desires and fears. In those cases, I’m a coward.
I hate people treating others wrongly. Nothing boils my blood in the same way as someone who knows they have power over another and using that power to disrespect and take advantage of them. I really believe in mutual respect in all situations, even if the relationship in question is the case of an employer and employee, where one is, by definition, in a lower position. I have a very difficult time keeping my mouth shut when I see someone wielding their title just to fulfill their agenda, particularly so when that agenda is foolish, harmful, or going against common sense or decency.
And God help anyone who tries to tell me I’m wrong or deny me the ability to do something when I clearly (and they too, let’s not kid) know I’m in the right. I will not ever allow anyone to tell me I can’t do something for some arbitrary or discriminatory reason. Fuck them. And fuck that.
I’m an unforgiving soul and a keeper of grudges in these types of situations. I do not forget easily. And though I will pretend all is well again, if I am wronged, that’s it–you’re cut off. I haven’t the time, energy, or emotional availability to keep myself open to those who attempt to put me down.
Unless that person is me. This is where the complication comes in. I tell myself that I can’t do something all the time. And instead of metaphorically standing up to myself, I give in. Usually right away. Because it’s easier. Because I’m weak. Because I think my thoughts must be gospel. Talk about an unreliable narrator. I’m narrating my life, and even I can’t be trusted to do it right.
If I’m to be honest, I’ve had self-esteem issues all my life, which is maybe why I’ve hid behind this strong-willed, take-no-prisoners exterior. Inside I’m terrified I’m never good enough. Not smart enough. Not strong enough. Not talented enough. Not kind enough. Not the best mom. Certainly not the best wife. Not the best educator. The list goes on.
Topping said list, though, are the “big two” as I like to think of them: my weight and body image; and, my dream of really writing. These issues take up so much space inside my mind. They nag at me every day. They never let me forget they’re in there begging for attention, for action. And most of the time I’m pretty good at shutting them up. But more and more I find myself powerless against their relentless pursuit. And I haven’t any clue what to do about it.
I’ve not always been a chubby girl. When I was very young, I was reasonably thin. Average, at least. But as I got older, I got bigger. And by the time I hit puberty, I had become much thicker and curvier than most girls my age. I looked around the classroom at school and found myself amongst size zeros and twos when I was easily a 6. My butt poked out. My belly had rounded out. My chest was on a endless outward trajectory. I could only suck in, cover up, and push down so much. And I hated it all. How could I love my body, this body that was so different than those my peers had, than those I saw on television, in magazines? I felt betrayed. My body was working against me. And I couldn’t stop it.
The unstoppable force of puberty in conjunction with my sweet spot for sweets pushed me down a bramble-filled path of trouble. Growing up in a big family often meant that sweets were treats and rewards. Monetary rewards or gifts for special occasions weren’t as easy to come by as were homemade cookies, cakes, brownies, etc. And damn is my mom a great baker. Her baked goods were like Lay’s potato chips. And who am I to defy that motto? So I became mentally accustomed to rewarding myself with sweets of any kind. I’ve never been much for other junk foods–pop, chips, or the like–but I can’t turn down a cupcake. And so, as I grew older, that became my go-to, my safe haven. Bad day at school? Little Debbie to the rescue! Nervous about a job interview? Starve before, binge after, let the endorphins run free! Stressful day at work? Skip the booze, hand me a fucking brownie, stat! Not the healthiest coping strategy, I admit; but, a seriously difficult thing to override after so many years of conditioning.
And so I find myself at age 32 being at least 30 pounds overweight, which on my 5’2″ frame is too much, even with my broader shoulders and hips trying to camouflage it. I’m winded after climbing the two flights from my classroom to the cafeteria to pick up my students. I’m wary of leaving lights on when I’m naked because I don’t want my husband to see my body the way I see it. My family medical history has a longer list of potential conditions than a line of hipsters waiting outside an Apple store for the new iphone. And yet I do nothing about it. To be honest, I have a motherfucking cupcake sitting next to me as I type this. Why? Because cupcakes make me (temporarily) happy, and I’m on break from my soul-crushing job, and I deserve to be happy, right? Ugh.
As I’m sure you can guess, I feel fucking great when I’m shoving that sweet sweet frosted dream into my mouth, only to feel ashamed and disgusted after it’s all over. So why don’t I say no? Why don’t I change? Why don’t I tell myself I can’t do this anymore? I don’t know. Honestly. I want to, really I do. But I feel like I can’t. I’ve made myself so many promises and pacts, only to break them over the slightest provocation or seeming failure. What’s the sense anymore? Ugh again.
The thing is that I look at thin women and wish I was thin, even though I don’t entirely know why. Are they inherently better than me? Happier than me? I don’t know. But I also just want to love and accept myself for who I am. Maybe I will never be 125 lbs. again. Maybe I will always have a layer over my bones that some do not. I shouldn’t make myself feel like shit for it. I fat shame myself. Which I hate because it’s another example of someone with a seemingly more advantageous position making another feel inferior. But what do you do when that person is you? Do I make myself thin so I can be thin and perhaps happier? Or do I stay as I am because then I’m accepting of myself and embracing the fact that woman of larger sizes are also beautiful and desirable? And then what of my health? Ay, there is the rub.
I want to say that I will rededicate myself to pursuing a healthier lifestyle, that I can stop my sweet addiction any time I want. But I know I won’t. And it’s not because I lack the drive or incentive to do so. It’s just that I’m afraid of one potential outcome: success. No, I swear I’m not insane. Yes, I’m afraid of succeeding. I’m afraid of losing a noticeable amount of weight. And do you want to know why? Because I’m afraid it will never be enough. I will always look into the mirror and see the fat girl looking back at me. I’m afraid that no matter how small I might be able to make myself, it will never fix my mind. That it will forever stay tainted. It will always deceive me.
And what if my premonitions become true: I lose weight, I’m thin and toned, and still feel like shit on the inside? How can I possibly be a healthy role model for my daughter? How can I teach her that she is the most beautiful being inside and out by showing her that I treat myself quite oppositely? Why in the hell would she believe me?
So I continue to let my inner scardey-cat tell me I can’t, I won’t. It makes me feel weak and out of control. And when I feel out of control, I feel as if nothing else makes sense. It makes me feel inferior, scared, and hopeless. This goes against my very nature. And that pisses me off so much.