I have always been convinced that I was fat. I did not just think I was overweight, I believed I was FAT! There is a difference.
I am overweight now, I know that. But when my partner and I looked at photos of my childhood when I first started on my healing journey, he very helpfully pointed out that I was not a big child. So why was I convinced that I had always been huge?
My sisters and I take after father’s family. That means we tap into a more curvy gene pool. As long as l can remember mother called me fat. She would regularly comment that I was so big even before I was born that everybody thought she was having twins! My whole life I thought I was huge, and more importantly, that it was my own fault! Even as an adult, when I was—in fact—overweight, that misconception of having been big all my life has had a profound influence on how I see myself, and how I have cared for myself.
As long as I remember food was an issue in our house. Mother forced one diet after the next onto our developing bodies. There were posters in the kitchen listing good and bad food. She would not waste an opportunity to tell us how she managed to live on only one apple a day. How dare we not stick to our diets when she was torturing herself in support of us!
My Own Reality
As I gain more distance from her, I am finally starting to realize I was actually not overweight as a child. When I was 12, I had an accident that greatly influenced my body weight. I went from being an active child (cycling to school, playing water polo, and rowing once a week) to being unable to even walk much for a long time. The accident however did not just affect me physically, but also had a huge emotional impact. Adding insult to injury, mother seemed to think it was quite a drag that I needed care. About a week after I was released from the hospital she thought it was time for me to be recovered.
To be honest, I have never fully recovered from that accident. And I still deal with occasional pain and limitations. In the years since the acciden,t she often commented (and I am sure still comments) on how lazy and nonathletic I am. I was already so frustrated at not being able to join in PE lessons and needing physical therapy three times a week, and there she was ready to make me feel that it was simply my bad attitude that limited me. This idea that I was somehow responsible for physical ailments, because I was lazy and undisciplined, really took root.
Over the months, since cutting contact, I have come to realize that this is my inner-monologue when I look in a mirror. I look at myself, and feel guilt and resentment towards myself. How could I have allowed myself to get like this?
My Body Is A Reflection Of My Mind
Very recently I found out to what extent my body is a reflection of my mind. While talking to a health coach I was asked why I wanted to lose weight. It seemed like a simple question, but I struggled to answer it. So I walked away with that question still in my mind. Why?
A few days later, as I was walking in the park, I thought to myself: I would not even know who I would be if I was not overweight. It is so much part of my identity. So if I identify so much with being overweight, why do I want to lose the weight? I could just be who I am, and look how I look. Why am I still trying to lose that extra weight?
Before I knew what was happening my mind said, “Well, if you lose the weight, you can finally start taking yourself seriously.”
What It All Boils Down To
That thought almost knocked the wind out of me. Why would extra weight keep me from taking myself seriously? I am good at my job, am in a loving relationship, and have wonderful friends.
My whole life I believed I was fat. My whole life I was told I was unimportant and negligible. My mind simply connected the dots. Fat = unimportant and negligible.
So instead of going on yet another diet, I decided to focus on disconnecting those dots.
Since focusing more on self-esteem, and less on food, I have started to shift some weight. It is slow, and that is okay. After all, I am no longer trying to lose weight. I am just trying to take myself seriously—extra pounds and all.
We Live What We Believe
My relationship with my own body—as well as with food and sustenance—had been hijacked from the very beginning of my life.Not just by my parents, but also by popular culture. Whether by skinny, air-brushed super models, or by TV ads that telling us that hamburgers will make us happy, fix arguments, are a good foundation for romantic relationships, and guarantee happy offspring (as do fish fingers, cakes, cookies and frozen pizza). We are bombarded with the message that cooking a meal from scratch is a waste of time. Then we are tempted with frozen meals and microwaves.
Those things that we believe about food and looks are what will control us.
What does your weight really say about you? other than what size clothes to get? How do you let your body image limit what you believe about yourself?
Perhaps it is time to disconnect some of your own mind’s dots.