Yesterday, I felt confident in myself and in the future. I was able to be patient and reasonable with myself when I started freaking out about how I should talk to people in my classes. I told myself that maybe I just needed to give these things time and work on myself in the meantime. In zumba class, I was in a "let's do this! I'm gonna dance and have fun!" mood and when I couldn't get the steps to a song right, I reminded myself that it takes time and practice to get there, so I shouldn't get discouraged.
But all of yesterday I kept obsessing more and more about something that happened during my class where I was worried I had made a social mistake and upset my professor. I interpret social interactions for the worst, so I tend to assume people are angry or judgmental when they weren't. As my day went on, I kept obsessing about this incident, feeling stupid and embarrassed and worried. I've also been feeling worse about my body lately, starting to hate the stretch marks and extra weight I've put on, It doesn't help when my own dad made a comment about my appearance recently. And I've been gathering up my old "skinny" clothes to sell and marveling at how tiny I used to be. It makes me feel like some kind of monster now. It even makes me feel kind of disassociated from my body, like I'm just inhabiting it rather than that it's part of me; I'm no longer that size 00 girl that I see in pictures (and I can't seem to wrap my head around the idea that that was me) but when I look at my new body or see pictures of how I look today, I have a hard time comprehending that that's me either. It looks like someone else, it doesn't feel like me, it's not what I'm used to. So who am I? Is my body part of who I am or just a place I inhabit?
I don't know how my body changed so much, so quickly and I wish I knew when exactly it happened. I don't want to hate my body, but I don't really like it either. I know it will probably take a long time to adjust to this "new" body and there will be a process of accepting it, but there's always that voice inside you that says, "Haven't you moved on yet? It's been almost a year. You should be used to this by now!" I think that voice is my perception of how the world sees me and what people would say if I complained, but I have to let go of that voice because it's harmful and wrong.
Of course it's understandable that I'm having a hard time adjusting to my body changing so drastically. Of course there will be days when I hate how my body looks now. Of course I will feel confused and shocked looking at picture of myself before and now. Why don't we give ourselves permission and space to feel these things and grieve even the small losses? Why do we assign judgments to everything? Why do we always have to give our opinion on what other people are doing and how they should have done things? Why do we always have to be judging ourselves? Why can't I just let go and accept how I look today, and let go and accept when I don't like how I look today?
|Apparently other people put pictures in their blog posts. So I thought|
I'd try it too. (Credit - author; taken in Cavendish Beach, Prince Edward Island)
My body has endured a lot and remained strong, and I should respect it for that. But the most important thing is that I should celebrate that today it is healthy, regardless of the aesthetic shape it's in. I may have stretch marks, but at least I no longer have self-harm scars because I am no longer in so much emotional pain that I can't cope any other way. My stomach may protrude a little (okay, a lot) more, but I have energy to leave the house again, to make myself food, to go to school, and to accomplish anything else my little heart desires. My more-shapely hips may no longer be able to squeeze into that favorite pair of jeans, but I have the energy to get out of bed at 9 am instead of 2 pm. I would rather be in my current mentally (and for that matter physically) healthy state, than skinny and still depressed.
Which brings me to my obsessive anxiety about the awkward interaction in my class yesterday; life is full of awkward. I'm sure most of the class felt awkward. I'm sure nobody cares about what I said. I am blowing the whole thing out of proportion. What matters is that I talk in class now. I. Talk. In. Class. That's amazing. Like, almost every single class I contribute. I couldn't do that a year ago. It's time to celebrate myself, not berate myself! Why is that so difficult?
Reader, I hope you'll take some time now to take the negative thoughts and tell them to stop in the name of love. It's time to give yourself a break. It's time to celebrate yourself and your victories, no matter how small. It's time to look at the flip side of your coin instead of berating it for not being a dollar; look at the shortcomings you've been grieving and find the celebrations. Even if you're still in a really dark place, celebrate that you are still here. I am amazed by each person I come across who has fought the dark, nasty, thorny, painful battle of mental illness and has survived. Even if they are not "functioning" the way the world would have them, even if they're not "recovered", they are here still. They are fighting every.single.day. That is a huge testimony to you and your courage. And that is an incredible story to have, even if a lot of people in the world would downplay or deny it.
It's your story. And you are beautiful, brave, and strong.
- Read other posts about social anxiety.
- Read other posts about depression.
- Read other posts about body image.