Let’s Talk About Self Shame
Posted by mahalia2010
To remember that woman in the picture….And I think about my metamorphic journey as a whole.
For most of my life, I’ve always believed I was attractive. I have pretty eyes, a great smile, a huge personality. At my largest size, I had no self-identity issues. What I had was a horrible heart arrhythmia taking over my life and making daily routines impossible. I couldn’t exercise without having to stop ten minutes in as my heart rate sped up to around 240 beats per minute, making me light headed and unable to pull in a good breath.
My mindset was positive. I realized that in taking care of family and raising kids, and not taking care of myself adequately I’d gained 140 pounds in a matter of six or so years totaling 270ish pounds or so, which felt like it had happened over night. I’d spoken with my cardiologist and Arrhythmia specialist regarding my heart and my health. After careful consideration, it was decided that weight loss surgery was the best option for me to undergo.
I realized at the rate I was going and after age 40 approx: gaining 5 to 10 pounds more each year, I’d be dead before I got to see my kids get married and have children. Self-esteem or identity had nothing to do with my choice to lose weight. I didn’t feel ugly or fat. I felt normal especially since I did stay active walking and enjoying activities such as the zoo, hikes, 5 k’s just at a slower pace. I didn’t eat a lot of junk, but I also didn’t know how to count calorie intake, fat, carbs or read the back of boxes for bad for the body ingredients or additives.
It wasn’t until a year or so after surgery my entire outlook on my self-image and my life was obliterated by four words. Four words spoken by a significant other directly to me randomly out of nowhere.
You Physically Disgust Me. To this day, I have no idea what was going through the one person I’d trusted for twenty years to spew such horrible words from his mouth. I have no idea what he was going through and I honestly to this day don’t care. The words that he so carelessly and cruelly spoke to me still affect me to this day.
Some say sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me. At the time, I believed that person was a liar. In all my 41 years, I never had self-awareness issues or body issues. I was a content, I felt beautiful, I felt loved, I felt worthy.
And then… those four words became the monster of my nightmares, replaying over and over, the devil whispering in my ear and they devastated me on a level I didn’t fully realize for months, because every time I thought I got past the ringing in the back of my mind, I couldn’t escape the new image of myself in the reflection, half shattered on one side, beautiful on the other.
I quit writing, became withdrawn from friends, I hid myself and I was ashamed because surely if someone who has been in my life for so long, knows my deepest darkest secrets, the ugly side of my personality then it must be true, otherwise why would those words come out of his mouth.
For the next year, I stayed rigid to my workout routine, enjoying becoming healthier but on the inside I was fractured and unsure. Wine became my best friend. If I met someone I wanted to associate with I had to have alcohol in me so they couldn’t’ see how physically disgusting I was. Because in the mirror all dolled up and sassy all I saw was a broken hot mess. To go from never having issues about myself to a host of insecurities rocked me, plummeted me into darkness that I still sometimes find myself drowning in. A person can play a victim role for only too long before they become a martyr of circumstance. I didn’t like how I was feeling and decided change like on the outside was my only option for self-growth.
And then I began working on transforming myself on the inside. I found positive quotes to give myself daily. I took more pride in the entire process, I found my way back to church, I began to forgive myself first and others later. I had to learn to let go of things that didn’t matter. I try to remember that what others say doesn’t matter as much as what I know about me. I must also remember not to give negativity power. It’s human to hear and to hurt and to be offended by what others do or say. And while processing emotions I have to be careful not to ingest and digest the toxic others can dish out.
In order to effectively change, I was forced reevaluate my life and make my internal issues a top priority. Daily, I look in the mirror and tell myself good job, even if I have a bad day. I erase the bad words spoken to me with positive words. I meditate, do yoga and run to clear my head.
I keep in mind, that there’s nothing to be ashamed of. My scars, my stretchmarks, the extra 8 pounds of loose skin on my stomach, the few pounds of loose skin on the inside of my thighs are flaws to be proud of.
I made a deal with myself that I would buy a bikini top this year and flaunt my body. The first time I felt too bare but I had a strong person with me the day I chose to be brave and it made me feel even braver. I got a bit of strength from him. I bought four more tops and I love them and I love me in them.
Eventually this year, I gave away all my tankini tops to my weight loss center along with matching bottoms, for those on a new journey because I no longer felt the need to hide myself. That’s crazy sounding, right? Now I wonder how on earth, after all the work I’ve done to better myself, I allowed self-shame to dictate how I lived my life based on someone else’s opinion of me. I allowed myself to be weighed down by self-hate and self-disgust for months. Lost time that I could’ve done more positive things with, time I can’t get back. I won’t say wasted since I needed this time to reflect and learn and maybe encourage others who are stuck in the muck of self-shame.
And while I appreciate all the lovely complements on the external side of my transformation. I want others to be aware how difficult it is to fix the internal and spiritual side. That just like I ate a few peanut m and m’s the today and a chocolate chip cookie, I had to tell myself it was okay to have junk food once and awhile and it’s okay to have bad appearance days, hell to have bad days’ period because they happen.
I force myself to be less critical of me and more accepting. I used to be my own worst enemy and some days I still am, just at a lesser evil of a level, and it’s something I imagine, I’ll work on the rest of my life. The idea is finding a balance to be the healthiest you and learning how to love yourself first flaws and all.