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Breaking Free – Maria’s Journey to Health (Week 14)

Breaking Free – Maria’s Journey to Health (Week 14)

So as I escaped the cold and snuggled into my couch to watch a bit of Sunday night television – I stumbled upon the interview with Ian Thorpe. He told of his battle with depression; the lethargy and unhappiness that dogged him from a young age, that he didn’t quite understand – and of how he started taking anti-depressants & self-medicating with alcohol in his battle to feel ‘normal’. He told of his anguish in dealing with the insults and abuse over the years, and how he struggled to deal with the truth of who he was. It was quite poignant, and not unlike many of the feelings we have all experienced at one time of another…each of us for our own reasons.

And now, in the spirit of Thorpey’s coming out of the closet and revealing that he is gay, I too have an announcement of my own…I’m coming out of the fridge kids…I’m fat! As I listened to him reveal his pain, I felt a mixture of empathy, knowing, and frustration. We have both felt a similar shame, embarrassment and fear of rejection. We have both been abused for being ‘different’, and battled with the mental and emotional anguish that accompanies it. No matter how many achievements and successes I have worked for, a cloud of melancholy always circles dangerously close, never letting me know when it’s about to pour with rain.

But there’s a major difference between he and I…unlike being gay, I could never hide my millstone. I couldn’t keep it a secret. I was a closet eater, but my mass betrayed me, exposing my weakness in the full light of day, for everyone to see…And for years I too have lied, protesting that it didn’t bother me – I was fat and proud! So, now my friends…the truth…I am fat, and I am proud…but I’m not proud of being fat – I’m not proud of being unhealthy, and definitely not proud that I have abused my body for most of my life. I am proud however of the person that I am & the gifts I have been blessed with – and I am proud that I have found the courage to do something about my health. And so the truth shall set me free! *insert overly enthusiastic gospel choir* Ha-lle-lu-jah!

All of us are trying to fit in, to be accepted, to be understood – with the simple yearning of being treated with some compassion, dignity and respect. Daily, our society and media tell us how we should be: what we should look like, how we should act, what we should eat, think, do, love, buy…and the list goes on. What is born in us is an emotional and psychological hole that the most enlightened, successful and even beautiful amongst us battle to fill: if we just looked better, had a better job, body, car, house, wardrobe, partner = we would BE better. Worthy. At peace. But what we are left with is a myriad of people that are constantly not happy with what they have; pretending to be something they are not, trying desperately to fulfil the futile goal of pleasing everyone – because somehow that will mean that they are of value; that they are worthy of being loved. But really…are we ever ourselves, or are we the social mask that we forget to take off? Do we actually love or even like ourselves? Is the ultimate goal being validated by others, or is it self acceptance? And in this self acceptance are we just settling with being the flawed, imperfect souls we are…or should we strive to be all that we are told to be? Who decides? Who is right?

Having always been a big girl, I’ve had to bare the brunt of a cruel world in which I am constantly reminded that I am an abomination. It has never been easy, and some of my experiences to date have been heart-wrenching. I learned early on that society didn’t like fat people – we were the ones that were mocked, and abused; the subject of repulsion; the pinnacle of overindulgence and excess; a target for insults and being laughed at. From as early as I can remember, I was told I didn’t fit in; I was teased mercilessly at primary school; was constantly berated and embarrassed by friends and family; was alienated in high school; rejected by the ‘popular’ suitors, and abused & mocked in public. My self image took a beating, and has always been a negative one. I turned to humour, my best defence…and most of the jokes were at my own expense – if you can’t beat them…

People tried everything to get me to lose weight: doctors, weight loss centres, teasing, yelling, mocking, pleading, shaming, threatening…But, all I could hear was ‘You’re not good enough’, ‘You are a failure’…I turned this criticism and loathing inward, and so began a journey of self medication with food – a cruel love affair that ultimately threatened to kill me. Early on, I accepted my lot, and stayed that way. The rebel in me fought back and ate without restraint – I told myself that this way I did not have to admit defeat; it was a way of retaining some semblance of dignity. I decided it was safer behind my layers of fat; I wouldn’t have to expose myself to the world and somehow that would protect me from pain. I reasoned that although they could laugh at and mock my body, they could never really get to ‘me’. How wrong I was…

At the end of the day, it’s been exhausting. We spend so much of our lives bent over backward trying to win everyone’s approval; obsessing over what people think of us – losing ourselves in negative thoughts about the criticism we receive and its merit. I’ve been so used to being judged, it’s hard to not take everything, from everyone as condemnation. It’s also excruciating to receive praise, like somehow I’ve fooled people into believing I’m good at something – and that any minute they will discover the truth. I feel like they are waiting like a pack of wolves, ready to gnaw on my broken spirit as they snicker ‘I told you so’…and before long, I fall apart, again and again. So familiar am I with the wolves, that in their eyes I see my own reflection…

Sadly, the criticism I have received has not often come gently from people legitimately trying to help. Even when it has been done with care, it is still painful – for it is an open wound, still raw from the last blow. A lot of the ‘advice’ I’ve received has been unsolicited and not from experts in the given field. But, we can’t control what other people will say to us – or how they will say it, or whether they’ll approve, or form opinions and share their perceived wisdom. But we can learn to control how we internalise it, respond to it, and learn from it – and when we should just release it and move on…I’ve carried a lot of it around for many years…and now, I don’t quite know where to put it…I’m even petrified to set it down, for without it, who am I?

It saddens me that hating fat people is the last socially acceptable prejudice. It infuriates me that so many of us, for so many different reasons suffer silently for not being ‘normal’; punished for straying physically from the ideal – how dare you be gay, tall, short, fat, skinny, coloured, ugly, big nosed or big eared! And, for being ‘abnormal’, you shall be punished by years of torment, insults, exclusion, self doubt, self loathing, unhappiness and pain! It’s insanity…

People need to realise that these social stigmas are keeping people from reaching their full potential, from contributing to the world in a positive way. The countless hours that are wasted in pain and emotional agony cannot be re-lived…they have drifted off into the abyss. I lament those lost hours, days and years, and am trying desperately to make the ones I have left, more meaningful.

All those years of suffering, of desperation and self-sabotage have kept me away from doing what is good for me – they have kept me from exercise, out of the gym, afraid to live. I escaped the cruel jibes in the arms of my beloved companion, food – my psychological and emotional crutch and addiction. Other people choose drugs, sex, gambling, shopping, alcohol, starving themselves or self harm – but ultimately, the feelings are the same – it’s just the numbing device that changes…What’s your poison?

As a society we all need to learn (myself included) to treat people better; to show some more love, respect and dignity towards our fellow human beings. There are enough critics in the world; let’s instead be encouragers…We have all been guilty of it; the judged become the jury – the abused become the abusers, the hated become the haters. Instead of constantly reminding each-other what we lack or where we have ‘failed’, let’s celebrate what we have, and what we’ve achieved! We all need to make more of an effort to find out each-other’s story; help one another love ourselves more; teach each-other coping mechanisms that do not include food, or drugs or alcohol. How nice it would be to live a life free of insecurity, pain, and angst – and to put that time & energy into developing ourselves and being the best we can be…I have made a pact with myself that I will make and effort daily to be kind, and inspire others to believe that they are worthy; that they deserve to be loved and that they do belong. If we all try to let go of the negative critic in our head, maybe then, just maybe we will all be a little happier and find the strength to make a change…

So to hell with striving for the beauty myth…I am already beautiful! That is why this is not my journey to beauty, to hotness, or to skinny…it’s my journey to heath! Physical, mental and emotional health. My aim is to break free of the invisible shackles that have held me prisoner – and broken my heart and spirit…and to learn a new way to be. Just me…

If you too would like to change your life, or know someone close to you that may need that little push, enter yours or their details below for a free two week trial.

 

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Breaking Free – Maria’s Journey to Health (Week 14)

Breaking Free – Maria’s Journey to Health (Week 14)

Breaking Free – Maria’s Journey to Health (Week 14)

So as I escaped the cold and snuggled into my couch to watch a bit of Sunday night television – I stumbled upon the interview with Ian Thorpe. He told of his battle with depression; the lethargy and unhappiness that dogged him from a young age, that he didn’t quite understand – and of how he started taking anti-depressants & self-medicating with alcohol in his battle to feel ‘normal’. He told of his anguish in dealing with the insults and abuse over the years, and how he struggled to deal with the truth of who he was. It was quite poignant, and not unlike many of the feelings we have all experienced at one time of another…each of us for our own reasons.

And now, in the spirit of Thorpey’s coming out of the closet and revealing that he is gay, I too have an announcement of my own…I’m coming out of the fridge kids…I’m fat! As I listened to him reveal his pain, I felt a mixture of empathy, knowing, and frustration. We have both felt a similar shame, embarrassment and fear of rejection. We have both been abused for being ‘different’, and battled with the mental and emotional anguish that accompanies it. No matter how many achievements and successes I have worked for, a cloud of melancholy always circles dangerously close, never letting me know when it’s about to pour with rain.

But there’s a major difference between he and I…unlike being gay, I could never hide my millstone. I couldn’t keep it a secret. I was a closet eater, but my mass betrayed me, exposing my weakness in the full light of day, for everyone to see…And for years I too have lied, protesting that it didn’t bother me – I was fat and proud! So, now my friends…the truth…I am fat, and I am proud…but I’m not proud of being fat – I’m not proud of being unhealthy, and definitely not proud that I have abused my body for most of my life. I am proud however of the person that I am & the gifts I have been blessed with – and I am proud that I have found the courage to do something about my health. And so the truth shall set me free! *insert overly enthusiastic gospel choir* Ha-lle-lu-jah!

All of us are trying to fit in, to be accepted, to be understood – with the simple yearning of being treated with some compassion, dignity and respect. Daily, our society and media tell us how we should be: what we should look like, how we should act, what we should eat, think, do, love, buy…and the list goes on. What is born in us is an emotional and psychological hole that the most enlightened, successful and even beautiful amongst us battle to fill: if we just looked better, had a better job, body, car, house, wardrobe, partner = we would BE better. Worthy. At peace. But what we are left with is a myriad of people that are constantly not happy with what they have; pretending to be something they are not, trying desperately to fulfil the futile goal of pleasing everyone – because somehow that will mean that they are of value; that they are worthy of being loved. But really…are we ever ourselves, or are we the social mask that we forget to take off? Do we actually love or even like ourselves? Is the ultimate goal being validated by others, or is it self acceptance? And in this self acceptance are we just settling with being the flawed, imperfect souls we are…or should we strive to be all that we are told to be? Who decides? Who is right?

Having always been a big girl, I’ve had to bare the brunt of a cruel world in which I am constantly reminded that I am an abomination. It has never been easy, and some of my experiences to date have been heart-wrenching. I learned early on that society didn’t like fat people – we were the ones that were mocked, and abused; the subject of repulsion; the pinnacle of overindulgence and excess; a target for insults and being laughed at. From as early as I can remember, I was told I didn’t fit in; I was teased mercilessly at primary school; was constantly berated and embarrassed by friends and family; was alienated in high school; rejected by the ‘popular’ suitors, and abused & mocked in public. My self image took a beating, and has always been a negative one. I turned to humour, my best defence…and most of the jokes were at my own expense – if you can’t beat them…

People tried everything to get me to lose weight: doctors, weight loss centres, teasing, yelling, mocking, pleading, shaming, threatening…But, all I could hear was ‘You’re not good enough’, ‘You are a failure’…I turned this criticism and loathing inward, and so began a journey of self medication with food – a cruel love affair that ultimately threatened to kill me. Early on, I accepted my lot, and stayed that way. The rebel in me fought back and ate without restraint – I told myself that this way I did not have to admit defeat; it was a way of retaining some semblance of dignity. I decided it was safer behind my layers of fat; I wouldn’t have to expose myself to the world and somehow that would protect me from pain. I reasoned that although they could laugh at and mock my body, they could never really get to ‘me’. How wrong I was…

At the end of the day, it’s been exhausting. We spend so much of our lives bent over backward trying to win everyone’s approval; obsessing over what people think of us – losing ourselves in negative thoughts about the criticism we receive and its merit. I’ve been so used to being judged, it’s hard to not take everything, from everyone as condemnation. It’s also excruciating to receive praise, like somehow I’ve fooled people into believing I’m good at something – and that any minute they will discover the truth. I feel like they are waiting like a pack of wolves, ready to gnaw on my broken spirit as they snicker ‘I told you so’…and before long, I fall apart, again and again. So familiar am I with the wolves, that in their eyes I see my own reflection…

Sadly, the criticism I have received has not often come gently from people legitimately trying to help. Even when it has been done with care, it is still painful – for it is an open wound, still raw from the last blow. A lot of the ‘advice’ I’ve received has been unsolicited and not from experts in the given field. But, we can’t control what other people will say to us – or how they will say it, or whether they’ll approve, or form opinions and share their perceived wisdom. But we can learn to control how we internalise it, respond to it, and learn from it – and when we should just release it and move on…I’ve carried a lot of it around for many years…and now, I don’t quite know where to put it…I’m even petrified to set it down, for without it, who am I?

It saddens me that hating fat people is the last socially acceptable prejudice. It infuriates me that so many of us, for so many different reasons suffer silently for not being ‘normal’; punished for straying physically from the ideal – how dare you be gay, tall, short, fat, skinny, coloured, ugly, big nosed or big eared! And, for being ‘abnormal’, you shall be punished by years of torment, insults, exclusion, self doubt, self loathing, unhappiness and pain! It’s insanity…

People need to realise that these social stigmas are keeping people from reaching their full potential, from contributing to the world in a positive way. The countless hours that are wasted in pain and emotional agony cannot be re-lived…they have drifted off into the abyss. I lament those lost hours, days and years, and am trying desperately to make the ones I have left, more meaningful.

All those years of suffering, of desperation and self-sabotage have kept me away from doing what is good for me – they have kept me from exercise, out of the gym, afraid to live. I escaped the cruel jibes in the arms of my beloved companion, food – my psychological and emotional crutch and addiction. Other people choose drugs, sex, gambling, shopping, alcohol, starving themselves or self harm – but ultimately, the feelings are the same – it’s just the numbing device that changes…What’s your poison?

As a society we all need to learn (myself included) to treat people better; to show some more love, respect and dignity towards our fellow human beings. There are enough critics in the world; let’s instead be encouragers…We have all been guilty of it; the judged become the jury – the abused become the abusers, the hated become the haters. Instead of constantly reminding each-other what we lack or where we have ‘failed’, let’s celebrate what we have, and what we’ve achieved! We all need to make more of an effort to find out each-other’s story; help one another love ourselves more; teach each-other coping mechanisms that do not include food, or drugs or alcohol. How nice it would be to live a life free of insecurity, pain, and angst – and to put that time & energy into developing ourselves and being the best we can be…I have made a pact with myself that I will make and effort daily to be kind, and inspire others to believe that they are worthy; that they deserve to be loved and that they do belong. If we all try to let go of the negative critic in our head, maybe then, just maybe we will all be a little happier and find the strength to make a change…

So to hell with striving for the beauty myth…I am already beautiful! That is why this is not my journey to beauty, to hotness, or to skinny…it’s my journey to heath! Physical, mental and emotional health. My aim is to break free of the invisible shackles that have held me prisoner – and broken my heart and spirit…and to learn a new way to be. Just me…

If you too would like to change your life, or know someone close to you that may need that little push, enter yours or their details below for a free two week trial.

 

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