Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The weigh I see it

To say it's a heavy topic is an understatement.  It is also cliche.  Today, I'm talking about weight, body image, me. 

I don't very often bring up my weight on this blog.  It's not something I'm very comfortable talking about.  While I complain on a regular basis to Corey and to my Mom about my weight, talking about it to the general public or other friends feels daunting.  The only time it's brought up, by me, in a public setting is if I'm cracking a joke.

A healthy self esteem isn't something I posses.  It's not something I've ever really had and it's not something I'm very good at changing.  If I could go to the store and pick one up, I would.  Problem is, I can't.  They don't sell self esteem in a bottle, or body image booster in a can.  And while billions of dollars a year are spent on marketing by dozens of companies, to convince us that their product will do just that, they don't.  Good self image starts from within, the thing is, I don't know where within, it is.

I've never been a skinny girl.  Growing up I was always on the pudgier side of healthy.  I don't remember exactly when we started worrying about how we looked but I do clearly remember a day, with a very dear friend, when we both stood on a scale, she just barely weighed in at 100lbs and I was 120.  I didn't take into account that I had 4" on her then and still do.  The numbers were different, mine was higher and it started years and years of feeling like the "fat" friend. 

I wasn't over weight, but I wasn't thin either.  I had friends who were good for my self image because they didn't worry about their weight and I had friends who were horrible for it, always telling, reminding and suggesting that I was too fat, flat or ugly to ever be dated, loved or married.  I cried alone in my room many nights pleading with God to please make me thinner, fitter, shorter (yes, for many years I loathed the 5'8.5" that I am), make my booty smaller and for goodness sakes GIVE ME SOME BOOBS ALREADY!  I mean couldn't you just take the butt fat and put it with the boob fat and even the scales a little? 

As time wore on, I got used to the body I had.  I wasn't happy with it or comfortable in it, but it was what it was.  I exercised as best I could and sort of ate ok, so it was the best it was.  I graduated a little heavier than I'd have liked but again, I just felt it was my lot in life to battle with weight.  And I heard, echoing through my head on a daily basis, "You'll never be good enough"

After high school (the pivital point in so many women's self esteem issues), I had my first boyfriend, I date a few other guys but nobody special.  The atttention helped in making me feel a little less ugly but I always figured they were just passing time with me.  That it was just a pity date, they'd change their minds when someone prettier came along.  I had a very long relationship that was unhealthy at best, and it did nothing at all for the insecurities I carry on my back.

Fast forward to Corey.  He dated me and even married me, a fact that still to this day boggles my mind.  I know God put us together, I know he created me for Corey and Corey for me, but what I don't get is how Corey picked me over someone else.  It's something else I struggle with, and don't at all want to bare my soul about here.

He told me and still does, on a daily basis that he thinks I'm beautiful, that he loves my body.  And yet it still wasn't enough.  I had always thought that when I got married that's when I'd get my good body image.  That, when a man finally found me worthy enough to marry that it would fix everything I feared.  Instead, it just magnified the fears of not being good enough.  What if he one day got sick of me?  What if that someone better did come along?  What if I got fatter and never lost it, then what?  I didn't count on the unconditional love that Corey has, that he shows me every. single. day.  Yet another reason that God is good, and so is my husband.

Then I thought being pregnant I'd have 9 months of bliss.  Feeling the growth of a life, feeling radiant and beautiful.  Again, wrong!  I spent 9 months uncomfortable, eating like a horse, feeling fat as a whale, and miserable.  I heard weekly from the doctors I was gaining too much weight, and looking back, you know what, I was.  I had taken the opprotunity to "eat for 2" and when I say 2 I mean 2 familys of 4.  Such was the consumption of McDonalds, Chips, chocolate and everything I "craved" which really weren't cravings but wantings.  In the end I gained in excess of 60lbs and when I gave birth to my beautiful daughter, I didn't even lose 12lbs of it. pft  to the average 20lbs immediate weight loss the book promised.

I was devistated, and my self esteem hit an all time low.  It took me almost 6 months to get out of the funk and to make up my mind that I'd gotten my self and my rear end into that mess and it was up to me to get us out of it.  And so I did, I ate better, I exercised and I used extreme caution when it came to the consumption of food.

I lost every pound I'd gained and 18 months after delivering Bethany I was finally back to my pre-baby weight.  I was happy, thrilled even, I didn't feel sexy or thin, but I felt triumphant that I'd lost what I'd gained.  And 2 weeks later I was pregnant with Audrey, and so it began.

This time around I was more careful and selective in what I ate.  I also felt worse than I did the first time around and had Bethany to chase after and my pregnancy weight gain stayed in a much healthier place. 

Here we are a little over a year later, and with a lot of hard work and self control (the place where stubborn is a huge help) I've lost all the baby weight and then a good portion more.  I'm at a scale number that I've dreamt (I spell check that one) about for years.  It's in a healthy weight range, even in the ideal range for my height.  I should be over the moon.

I'm not.

In fact, if truth be truth, while most of my clothes are too big, the scale says I'm smaller and my husband says he's happy.  I am unhappy.  I still worry that with life as busy as it is right now, between having 2 small girls, a house and husband to take care of as well as working, that I don't have time to be at the gym 5 days a week, and I watch every single thing that crosses my lips (without exaggeration) afraid that it will find it's self packed into my already bursting trunk full of junk.  I don't see anything different when I look in the mirror, I feel more self concious now than I did when I met my husband and more than anything I am confused. 

Why is it like this?  Why, no matter how I try, do I not see what my husband sees?  Why, can't I have one day were I feel good about me?  The only one day that I can ever remember truly being happy about how I looked was my wedding day.  That is, with absolute honesty the only time I ever felt beautiful.

The biggest thing about it is, I need to find that place.  That place where I feel good enough about how I look that I'm not worried about the next time I stand on the scale.  A place that, for that matter doesn't make me feel that standing on said scale (or the platform of doom as I've affectionately named it) every day is a neccessity.  And it's hard, it feels most days impossible.  The media doesn't help, when I did a little Googling I found out that all of the celebrities whom I think are beautiful with great bodies are actually underweight, I had to stop.  I don't want to be under weight.  I just want to be a healthy weight, and I am.  So what's the problem?

I don't know, but it's in there and it's so very hard to control.  I'm still working hard to get to a place where there is good enough, my fear is that it doesn't exist.  The good enough for me will always be a goal. 

But I have two little girls who are watching.  They mimic the things I do on a daily basis, and this, this fear of being fat, of not being good enough isn't one I want them to mimic.  I want them to know they are beautiful, that they are who God made them to be.  I want them to know that the number on the scale doesn't measure the size of your heart or the depth of your soul, I want them to know that God doesn't make mistakes and they are perfect in His eyes. And I want them to know without a shadow of a doubt, when the world may say they aren't right, they aren't perfect, they are unworthy, that they are loved, for who they are, what they will become and the beauty that shines through their eyes from their souls, by the people that matter, most of all by me.

I just have to figure out how to do that without being a hypocrit.  And for as far as I can see, that means I have to come to know those things for myself, and believe them.  And that's were this topic gets hard and the train leaves the tracks, because I just don't know how to get there.

And so I truck on, I work hard, I pray, I listen and I love, and maybe, just maybe one day Good enough will come and I will be who I truly want to be.


Jill V said...

Coming from a "skinny girl" even skinny girls have body issues. Anyone can have body issues if you keep looking for them. I changed mine when I really sat down to think about it. Do the size of my boobs really affect the quality of my life? Why does the opinion of the general public matter when it comes to my big ankles? And it helped me to realize that those people who make the comments about too fat or too flat are commenting because they have issues too. It's okay not to be perfect. Because in reality, no one is. It's all about how you feel and what you think about yourself. So you might not be able to change the size of your hips or boobs without surgery, you do have the power to change how you feel.

Anonymous said...

My darling girl. One of the things that has created the lack of self esteem on your weight comes from watching me struggle so hard over the years. You saw me get huge and have a tough time. You watched me struggle to lose weight and still do. I am sorry that my reflection of myself caught you and in some ways Dustin in that whirl wind of lack of self esteem. Ashley you are a beautiful woman, not only in your face but your body. You are proportioned, long and lean. You are not good enough, you are the best. Good is only part way to the best. You are the best you can be always because you are right God doesn't make junk. Your smile, your amazing eyes and your cute butt are just the package on the outside. Yes I know first hand it doesn't help when someone says that you are beautiful inside, but you are. Your kind deminer and thoughtful hands make your smile even brighter. Stop and look in the mirror... be thankful you are where you are. don't look for less. You offer yourgirls a confident Mom because you have a Lord and Saviour who is your confidence. Search Love and you will find that feeling you want to pass on to your babies. Hugs.... I love you darling girl and I am sorry if my struggles has made the inside things hard for you. I love you so much


Anonymous said...

Ive never been the "skinny" girl or the "heavier" girl, but i have ranged inbetween my whole life. My weight changes like the seasons, and I have to be honest when i get to the lower side it doesnt change anything, sure when i get dressed in the morning im happy i fit into my so called skinny jeans, but i still have my day ahead of me, and I still have all my worries of my very busy life, just like you, kids..husband..mortgage.. i could go on and on. I think you just have to find a place where weight really doesnt matter, being healthy matters. If you eat right and get physical activity (and yes chasing after kids for hours a day is actually considerd cardio) then stop thinkning about what you look like and rather how you feel. Are you happy with your husband? Do you have healthy kids and happy kids? Then thats what you want to pass onto them, because as much as you think youre hiding how you feel about your insecurities, your kids will hit an age where they will pick up on it. ANd they will start feeling the same way as you, be it you think youre just telling a joke, well they'll think that makeing fun of themselves at there physical appearance is normal...

I think you need to find something that takes you out of your comfort zone and gives you a thrill that youre not used to. I started doing yoga.. youd be amazed at the muscles that are sore after that.. and the things that start to lean out. And it consontrates on takeing a moment for yourself and forgetting everything around you and finding an inner peace. Trust me, make time for it, find a class and GO>> and make no excuse to skip it ever.

You are beautiful, dont think you need someone elses approval to feel that way. (it is a great feeling knowing that corey loves you no matter what) but that should'nt change your mind on how you feel about yourself. YOu have to love yourself first before you can truely love anyone else. WHen you feel that positivity about youre whole self, youd be amazed at how much more love you feel for everything else. And remember, no matter how good things are youre going to have hard times, and good times, but theres always a light at the end of the tunnel, and youll make it there.

Niki said...

I SO get this post! SO GET IT! Especially today. :(

I'm working hard on this whole issue, trying to figure out how to be happy and content with me. And praying I will have it all figured out soon so I can pass this on as best I can to my girls. Now it is not just me who is messed up and dealing with these issues! Yikes! What a HUGE responsibility!hullcalc