Saturday Self-Care: Healing through honesty…

Honestly, my body problems didn’t start from recent weight gain. In past posts, I’ve conveniently blamed pregnancy and pregnancy loss for my issues but it is simply not the whole truth.

No, my body issues began when I heard my mom (and pretty much every other member) call my dad fat. I quickly learned that fatness was disgusting and shameful. I didn’t start stepping on scales or anything but I became hyper-aware of everyone’s sizes around me. I soon noticed that me, the baby of the family, was the “chubby” one and I feared that I would become my father. This fear propelled me into puberty with my dad’s warning that, “you’re gonna be as big as a house if you keep eating bread” (Funny, I lost weight in France eating plenty of bread. Guess you were wrong, Dad!). Add on the fact that I am naturally a curvy girl and I became obsessed with never becoming fat. But the truth is until recently, I haven’t had legitimate, “need to lose it” weight issues. All of my body issues have derived from my ultimate fear of losing control and failing which is all tied up in my self-worth (or lack thereof).

What’s funny is now I look  at pictures from a year ago and want to scream at her, “You are fine, what is wrong with you? You are good enough. You always were.” But she doesn’t hear me. She’s too busy giving me her famous  forced smile, intimidated by the camera that captures what she believes to be her worth–ugliness, sloppiness, laziness.  So instead, I resolve to have a chat in the mirror and tell her:

You are fine. There is nothing wrong with you that plenty of water, sleep, real food, sunshine, and movement can’t fix. Feel privileged to have a body that goes above and beyond to ‘get the job done’. Treat her well and appreciate her for you never know when she might grow tired of the daily torture you inflict upon her and simply give up. Do not destroy your body for a piece of mind that you will never get. It’s not worth it. Stop making commitments to other things and people and for once–choose you, unconditionally, with no apologies. Love, Self.

 

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Crafting a mission statement to pull myself together

If you frequently read my blog, you know that I’ve had quite a rough life. Ten months ago, I realized that I finally hit rock bottom and I was tasked to make a choice: either live or die. Of course, it wasn’t that simple. As I’ve said before, suicide has been on my radar since I was ten and greatly progressed as I got older. I knew that if I decided to live something had to change and that something is what sparked me to create a mission statement.

While surfing the web  I found a blog that included a how-to create a mission statement PDF worksheet. I printed it out and got to work. After ten minutes I started bawling  as I realized that I couldn’t identify any of my strengths even though I quickly compiled a list of my weaknesses. But I refused to let my fear of failure hold me back from the opportunity to dive headfirst into self-improvement. And before I knew it, I had already discovered one of my strengths: I’m determined and (typically) highly-motivated. From there, I started to  think about where I wanted to be without disrespecting the me of today. Here is the finished product. Note:  In typical me fashion I didn’t “follow the rules” but what I came up with works for me and that’s all that matters. After all it is my mission, right?

To establish healthy, emotional boundaries with others, to treat my body with the respect that it deserves, and to unload some of my bags filled with obligations and worries by embracing fun, relaxation, and creativity.

I wrote this down on two sticky notes and pasted them on the side of my bedroom wall and on my desk wall. For months, I passed them while stuffing my face with cookies from the eighty-millionth batch I baked or typing yet another term paper near-tears at my desk. I would always start to read the statement but would stop abruptly from the guilt of failing myself (yet again).  By chance, I was sitting at my desk yesterday, singing along to a song, calmly chewing gum when  I looked up, and read the statement aloud in its entirety. This time I smiled. I’m not at the mythical “there” yet but I’m on a road, not traveling fast, but not  particularly slow. I’m cruising along, feeling the heat of the sun during the daytime and the cool, unpredictable breeze during the evening. Sure, there are seasonal changes, wrong turns taken, and car repairs but that’s okay because I am learning to cope with things that are outside of my control. Let me tell you, it’s scary but there is something so amazing about liberating your mind of unnecessary worry, anxiety, and stress.

For me, the visibility of my statement reminds me to re-center myself even in the midst of chaos. It affirms that my feelings and state of being matter and if I happen to get the funny idea that they don’t, there are other avenues (other than not sleeping, eating, and crying) to release negative energy.

 

 

On days like this when I miss you…

Dear Mom,

Today, I had a very bad idea to use an online calculator to figure out how long it’s been since I received the call that your battle was over. I’ll be honest, the sight of the cold, hard truth has left me extremely overwhelmed. Did you realize that it’s been 6 years, 7 months, 29 days (or 2433 days) since your body decided “enough is enough”? So much has happened, but then again, maybe not much has changed.

I still haven’t crossed paths with that cemetery where they claim your bones were laid. I don’t have any plans to go. That wasn’t what you wanted, you wanted to be cremated. So out of respect, I stand in protest.

Remember when you made me promise to find myself? Surprise, surprise–I still don’t know who I am or where I am going. In fact, I spend most days trying to carefully package my personality to be “acceptable” to people. The irony is that people still don’t “get” me even with the semi-upbeat veneer. Who am I fooling? On that same day, you told me to watch after my older sisters because in your eyes I could handle your impending demise. The problem was (as it still remains): who will look out for me?

The most important thing that hasn’t changed is that I’m still not over usI feel like I’m in a one-sided relationship in which you don’t want me anymore but I cling to hope that one day you will take me back. How do I live without letting the memories of the life we shared not eat away at my daily existence? How do I love myself when every time I catch a glimpse of my reflection I see you…you with all your bad habits and behavior but if I stare juuuust long enough, I see the good. And it makes me so sad. How do I live and not forget you when it feels like everyday I lose yet another piece of you?

Mommy, did you realize it has been 6 years, 7 months, 29 days (or 2433 days) since the 4am call? I hope you still recognize me. Admittedly, I am envious of mothers who work hard to build their children’s self esteem but there’s always one thing you have done very well: you embraced me as a flawed human being. So on days like this when I miss you and our silly conversations, I know that it’s okay to let my eyes leak like a broken faucet all night if I have to. You didn’t love me because I was perfect, you loved me because I was me. I hope you still do, wherever you are.

Love,

Your chicken  (#3 that is)