I’ve been racking my brains for the past few weeks as to what to write for my first blog post. I have so much that I’d like to get down in writing that it’s taken a while to make a decision!
Today I settled on what this first blog would be about, something that has been a constant pretty much through my entire life as I remember it. My weight.
I started puberty at quite a young age, starting my periods at 11 years old. While other girls my age were still shopping in Tammy Girl, I was having to wear women’s clothes because…..well, I was turning into a woman. I was gently teased about my weight and size towards the end of primary school, but never anything terrible and I was always able to let it go over my head. I was taller and broader than a lot of the boys in my class by the time I went to secondary school. I went to school out of our catchment area and only knew two other boys from my old school. Again, I experienced some gentle teasing, but I made friends and settled in and found my little niche as a bit of a swot. I wasn’t particularly bright, but I always tried (who doesn’t love a tryer?). I was as happy as any teenage girl going through puberty ever is!!!!! Secondary school is my first memory of experiencing real anxiety, feeling physically ill from it at times.
Little did I realise, that the gentle teasing I was experiencing would plant a tiny seed that would continue to grow and grow throughout my life.
On leaving secondary school and starting Sixth Form College I was already a size 18/20. That summer I had my first experience of male attention……one lad that I was particularly ‘sweet’ on commented “You’d be really pretty……if you were a bit thinner”. I remember feeling absolutely gutted, although I continued to put on a brave face.
Once college got into full swing, I started to lose weight. I’d started smoking (sorry Mum!), so wasn’t eating that much apart from in the evening at home. I started going out to nightclubs, socialising with a wide circle of friends. I even bagged myself my first boyfriend. I dropped several dress sizes and really grew in confidence.
However, going into my late teens and early twenties my weight started to creep back up. I had some emotional experiences that seemed to send me to a dark place that I had never been before. I felt slightly overwhelmed by adult life and I think that this may have been my first experience of depression.
I had a boyfriend who had messed me around in the early stages of the relationship. We had broken up and he had proceeded to chase after one of my close friends, a girl who I perceived to be prettier and slimmer than me. This massively knocked my confidence. However, eventually we got back together but the damage had been done and I could never forget that he had wanted someone else. I used to find comfort in food and alcohol. Alcohol would give me an immediate lift by having fun whilst out partying, then food would ease my hangover the following day! A dangerous cycle to be in, but in my early twenties, I had yet to make the link between my emotions, behaviours and weight.
As I put on weight, I couldn’t buy clothes from the same shops as my friends as they didn’t have clothes in my size. I couldn’t wear the more fashionable stuff, and by this stage I wouldn’t have had the confidence to either.
Rather than talking to people about how I was feeling about myself or problems that I was experiencing, I would bottle it all up and try and deal with it myself. I felt embarrassed, even ashamed of myself. Ashamed of how I looked, ashamed about who I was and ashamed about my lack of coping with life.
Eating was a massive crutch at this time. I would always find a way to justify it to myself, usually by thinking “it’ll make you feel better”…….then end up feeling totally overwhelmed with guilt and self loathing. The way I felt about myself was reflected in what I accepted in relationships. Being cheated on, walked all over, stolen from, verbally abused about my size. It was just one massively vicious cycle leading to me having zero self esteem and no confidence in myself.
I hated myself, I really did. It got to the stage where I didn’t care that I was fat because that was what I deserved as far I was concerned. I went through a bit of a “Fat and Proud” stage for a while, but it was a complete load of bollocks. I was certainly fat, but I wasn’t proud!
In the last five years my weight has continued to fluctuate, partly due to pregnancy, partly due to emotional eating, partly due to physical health issues and partly due to depression. However, The last 5 and a bit years have been very different for several reasons. Firstly, I’ve started to understand and attempt to curb my emotional eating habits……..this is so incredibly tough and is a massive work in progress, but I am getting there. Secondly, I am learning to love myself and realise that my body is amazing…….I have grown a human being, my body certainly deserves to be looked after and I owe it to myself to love myself and accept who I am and what I’m capable of. Thirdly, I have realised that rightly or wrongly, some people will always think they have a right to make comments like “you’re a big girl aren’t you” or “you’re pretty for a big girl”…………but it says so much more about them than it does about me.
I deserve to feel comfortable in my own skin, in order to do this I am having to make some massive changes in my life. One of them is accepting that how I feel about myself is NOT the way that others feel about me. I have an amazing fiance who is my absolute rock and sometimes I panic that I don’t deserve to have him in my life. I have found it hard to understand how someone can find me attractive, but this is starting to change and I’m feeling better about myself every day. It’s hard not to impose your own insecurities onto someone else and I know I have done this at times, but I think I’m getting past that now.
Yesterday I joined a gym (not for the first time I hasten to add!). A nerve wracking experience when you have zero body confidence. I’ve not got a goal weight or anything, but it would be so lovely to get to a point where I feel more confident and comfortable. I’m never going to fit into other people’s definition of “slim” but I have learnt that other people’s expectations mean nothing. It’s how I feel that is important.