A lot can happen in two years.
See, I was dating this man.
And, as I have said in at all three speaking engagements I’ve had in the past two weeks, that could end the story right there. 🙂 We know how it is: love, food, and happy hour just seem to go together, especially when you are in your mid twenties. Well, it did for us. 🙂 I had been through a not-so-pleasant divorce, working my way through grad school and working two jobs while dealing with a custody battle and trying to raise my young son. I also had to deal with an extreme battle with depression, a lot of excess weight and the fact that men didn’t find my desirable because I came with baggage. Love was WELCOMED when it came. It also helped me deal with the anorexia I was battling in secret.
A month after this picture was taken (and I had gained back all of the weight the anorexia and excessive exercise had taken off of me. Now looking back…I don’t regret it.), I joined the YMCA, jump started my weight loss with Slim Fast (being truthful. I was desperate. I understand desperation. But I don’t recommend it.), learned to eat healthy and lost about forty pounds. And then….
Hold on to your hat. The story is going to move fast.
We got engaged in August. Moved in together in October. I gained 10 pounds in two weeks living with him. Starved a week (It was my default behavior) to fit into my dress the next week. We got married in November. I put on fifteen pounds by the time I found out I was pregnant in March. I gained another 46 pounds.
Basically, my husband watched his newlywed bride go from happy and smiling and 158lbs. to this:
218 lbs., severely depressed and refusing to leave the house (and if I had to I would only wear a jogging suit) or let anyone who had not seen me before my pregnancy see me (true story: my parents or my husband’s family didn’t see me for MONTHS after I had my daughter). My daughter will have VERY FEW pictures of me holding her as a baby because I was ashamed.
It’s a hard to pill to swallow when I look back on it now. I now see how it affected my marriage, how it affected my parenting (I gave my son, who had a lot of problems at school, very little grace for his errors as I was already dealing with the embarrassment of how I felt like I had destroyed the perfect picture that used to be my life), how it sent me into another serious episode of anorexia that landed me in the ER and quite a bit of therapy.
I got the weight off by FORCING myself into shame. I “couldn’t” go out looking like that. I “had” to do something. It’s the same attitude to forced me into binge eating. I “couldn’t” let anyone see that my attitudes towards food were still unhealthy and I was medicating with it because I felt so inadequate. I hid in dark parking lots, stuffed food down my throat and cried until I couldn’t see straight. I wanted to thin. I wanted to have a flat stomach. I wanted to be perfect.
I just wasn’t willing to spend my life obsessed about anything that would take me away from the life I have with my family. And while I thought so much about what people (honestly, family included) thought about me, they were more afraid about what I was doing to myself (because they didn’t know) I was killing us all with the belief that I needed to be perfect.
Shame is a learned behavior, something I learned way back in the day when I was the child who walked from the housing project to school and didn’t have name brand jeans or and got free lunch. But the shame comes from wanting to live up to others’ expectations because I was clean every day, coming from a two parent home and got straight A’s. And just like how now I am not a size 2 and can’t run a 10 minute mile, I am a size awesome and have run a half marathon and can teach a Zumba class that’ll knock your socks off.
When we come into who we are, shame has no space.
Is it time to set yourself free?