“The only person who can pull me down is myself, and I’m not going to let myself pull me down anymore.”
– C. Joybell C.
I recently took a trip back home (Boston, then New Hampshire) to visit my near and dear friends there. Before leaving, I had extreme anxiety about my appearance and weight. Extreme anxiety. I was losing sleep, unable to focus on anything, jumpy, on the verge of tears all the time. It was awful, and I came perilously close to cancelling my trip. I wasn’t looking forward to going home and seeing my beloved friends who I missed; I was filled with dread. Of course, I had planned on crash dieting and being this amazing perfect creature by the time my trip rolled around and, of course, instead I was the same as I have been now for about four years.
Fortunately, I forced myself to go. Before I left, mostly out of utter exhaustion, I decided to try an experiment. I told myself that I was absolutely banned from saying anything negative about my appearance out loud or in my own head. Unlike other trips, I would not be mentioning or apologizing about my weight to anyone. I know how sad it makes me when I realize a friend is unhappy with herself and I didn’t want to do that to my friends. I also didn’t want to have yet another trip that was tainted with my obsessive, nonstop barrage of negative internal dialogue. I desperately wanted to be present and enjoy what was happening around me.
The result? I had the best trip of my life. I enjoyed every day with every person I visited. I was at ease and able to absorb the experiences around me. I gave my full attention to my amazing friends. I smiled with my whole heart and laughed with my whole belly. The irony? Each friend told me how beautiful they think I am, and seemed to assume that I thought the same. It hit home that it would have been selfish of me to deprive them of my visit based on how I was feeling about how they would feel about how I looked.
Additionally, I saw an old flame and ended up having the best sex of my life. A big part of the reason I wanted to cancel my trip is because I was so worried that he would be disappointed by how I look. I’m heavier and older than the last time we saw each other and I was sure he’d see me in a negative light. Instead, he spent the next few days telling me how perfect and beautiful he finds me, making me feel glorious and opening up inside me a latent sensuality. I basked in my own body, my own nakedness, and was fully in the moment. I almost missed out on life because of my weight. Because of the pounds that I’ve used as a barrier between me and the world.
I deny myself simple joys because of that silly weight. I tell myself that I don’t deserve to wear pretty dresses, have new clothes in my current (vs goal) size, that I shouldn’t have the haircut I want, wear flattering makeup or high heels. I skip out on beach invites and pool parties even though I love the sun and the water. I tell myself that these pleasures have to be earned, not freely enjoyed, even though I would be devastated if any friend of mine was skipping out on these things because of their looks. I tell myself that I shouldn’t ever do anything to draw attention to myself because I don’t deserve that attention, and that anyone who looks at me would find me wanting.
I’ve been holding back on this site because of my weight. I don’t want to post pictures of myself here or on Instagram. But I can’t wait any more! I can’t let life pass me by any more. I’m 31, and I’ve got so much passion to share with the world, my friends, my luvahs. And you do, too! The world wants you in it. If you’ve been holding back like me, try an experiment. Try going one day without negative self-talk. Try doing one thing that you desperately want to do but thought you were “too big” to do. Or too thin. Or too old. Or too young. Too wrinkly. Too broken-out (gurl, I’ve been there too!). Whatever your “weight” is, shake it off just for one moment and fully participate in life. You’ll be amazed at the response.
I’m still struggling. But, I’m getting there. I’m letting myself experience pleasure without guilt, and I’m showing up to my own life.
If you identify, please share your story. I’d love to hear where you are in your life and if you have any tips for putting yourself out there when you’re feeling less than perfect.