How do we mourn what we once were and move on?

I got this shot accidentally the other day.

I noticed how my body has changed, over the last year. Over the last 5 years, 10 years, since before I was a mother.

I have been asked this question, and I asked it last night in the clubhouse chat about Body Confidence (shakily, I was nervous!)

How does someone move from mourning a body they had, to accepting and eventually appreciating the body they have this moment?

While there is no single concrete, the general consensus is learning and continually working to appreciate yourself and your body for all it does for you now. That is an absolute truth.

My answer is:

I’ve seen my body change over three births spread 10.5 years apart, 3 drastic weight loss attempts that ended in regain, health conditions. My weight looks like a skyline view of the mountains, peaks and valleys.

Never in those times of change was there an ability for me to move from missing the body I had to appreciating it, no matter how hard I tried to switch my internal thinking.

Until I let myself actually mourn. I cried, I yelled, I looked at old pictures. I rode the wave of sadness and let it wash over me.

Then I stared deeply at those pictures. Saw how hard I faked my smiles, how I hid my “thinner” body at pool parties, how hungry I was when I refused food to get my “pre baby” body back, how I would work out for hours, missing moments with my kids.

Once I let myself feel the feelings, I was able move beyond mourning, into accepting. I had processed the sadness, realizing it was always there, and it had nothing to do with the scale.

The journey from accepting to appreciating is one I am still on. Some days I accept, and some days I truly appreciate.

For some, the answer is knowing you will mourn, work to focus on what your body does and challenging your inner critic, that helps move to acceptance.

For others we need to plant deeply in the mourning, let it consume us, and then let it fade. Then take the next next step in our healing.

This journey is so personal, one or both or a completely different scenario might be the path you take. But no matter how what direction you choose, they all start with a first step.

My biggest insecurity.

Ok, I’m giving it to you. My ultimate insecurity. More than my body ever was, more than hair on my chin.

I’m shaking at the idea of posting this. These words won’t be poetic, but they will be real.

I have been losing my hair since my 20’s. For years I’ve watched as clumps swirl and clog my shower drain.

I’ve used every possible treatment, cover up, spray… it’s my PCOS.

It’s also not reversible. I can and do use products to thicken the hair I have, and oil (my favorite is from Om Body and Soul) to help keep it healthy and it has helped reduce the amount I lose. But it’s not coming back.

I look in the mirror and see peace with so many other things I used to hate, but I can’t make peace with my hair loss.

I look back on pictures of my younger self, and the volume of hair I had, and I weep. I mourn for what I once had. I’m allowed that, I know.

I could write pages on how my hair makes me feel, but I won’t.

I’m just going to share, be vulnerable, release, and keep going.

And I will always keep going, even if I’m doing it bald.

Turning it around

Today started as a bad body image day.

I felt it with my feet hitting the floor as I got out of bed.

Wanted to cry as I pulled my leggings on. Felt them squeeze my thighs and belly, and inch over weight I have gained. (Yes, I’ve gained pandemic weight, and logical me KNOWS that’s ok).

Launched an internal verbal attack on my fine lines, wrinkles, sun damage, thin lips.

Then I walked to the mirror to take this picture, to document that even when you feel good about yourself and how you look, bad days happen.

I took the picture, disgusted.

Then I put my phone down, looked at myself, and said out loud:

“Stop”. I felt tears sting, and let them fall.

Then looked at a belly that grew and birthed my babies.

Thighs that have carried me through the depths of abusive hell into the light of freedom.

Skin weathered from years of living, a life I’m blessed to have.

Then my shoulders relaxed and I smiled.

I am beautiful, I am strong, I am worth loving.

I have a body that shows life, and I love everything about it.

What I would tell her…

Hi sweet girl.

I know you’re smiling, but you aren’t fooling anyone.

I know the fear you lived in, I know how scared you were to go home.

I know that at home lies addiction and abuse, and all you wanted to do is run.

I know you kept up appearances, kept the smile on your face and the sugar in your voice, to protect the innocent little ones who looked to you for comfort.

I know you took the verbal assaults, the physical attacks and emotional punches to keep anyone from knowing.

Did your best to shield your children from the stranger who lived in your home.

You did well, you tried to hold the world together for far too long.

It’s ok that it fell apart. You took the broken pieces and built something new and amazing.

You took the strength you learned then, and nurtured it, and applied it to other parts of your life.

You didn’t know it then, but you would rise from the ashes, you are the hero you needed.

If I could hug you, I wouldn’t let go.

I’m the “bigger” partner.

I am the “bigger” partner, but in our lives there is no bigger or smaller.

We don’t talk about our bodies. We don’t comment on the others loss or gain of weight. We discuss our body’s health but how it looks isn’t a topic. It just doesn’t hold a shred of value in our relationship. It never did for him, for me it was different.

I fought his unconditional love for a long time. Apologizing for a flawed body. Flaws he just didn’t see, but I refused to believe he didn’t.

He just wanted to love me, and I just looked for reasons that he couldn’t.

I grew and evolved, he supported and reassured. It took time, good things always do.

The person meant for you will see the heart and not the hips.

Demand that kind of love.

(As a side note, my husband has always been very slim, something that for years made him feel bad about his body. He was chasing pounds as I furiously running away from them. No one is immune to body shame.)

Living with ADHD

I haven’t talked about my ADHD diagnosis with many outside of my family.

I managed for almost 20 years, not particularly well, but I did my best to push through it without medication. I didn’t want to ask for help.

You wouldn’t know I had a diagnosed mental disorder, I would never have shown it outwardly, but I suffered in secret. Feeling like a failure when I couldn’t stay consistent with anything (if you’ve been around for a hot second, you’ve seen my many failed weightloss attempts), forgot almost everything, couldn’t suppress my impulses (I’ve learned as I’ve aged, and my impulses have changed), felt chronically overwhelmed by everything.

Until 2020. Until I had to stop, and face myself.

Last year was brutal, we all know that. It kicked us below the belt on numerous occasions.

For me, it made doing the basics almost impossible, routine non existent, my feeling of being overwhelmed from a 3 to about a 20. ALL. THE. TIME.

It kicked all of my ADHD symptoms into highest gear and could no longer “manage”, I needed help.

Absolutely no shame in my seeking help and guidance game now!

I’m on new meds, allowing the time needed for them to level off in my body, and feeling a weight off my shoulders.

What you see and what I feel are not so opposite now. I still have to watch triggers, work to stay on task, accept that I may fail, but that’s all of us in some way or another.

Uncomfortable?

Does my body make you uncomfortable?

I ask, because for the longest time, bodies like mine made me squirm.

I was so programmed to believe that larger bodies were unhealthy, disgusting, to be feared.

I wanted to separate myself so desperately from “that body”.

I was fat and fat phobic. Seems like the ultimate contradiction, but it’s the reality for many people in larger bodies.

Then I learned, unlearned, sat with my hatred and uncomfort.

Realized that hating mine and other bodies so deeply wasn’t going to rid me of extra weight.
It wasn’t going to separate me from “them”.

It tore me up, and made me hurt.

Hurting and hating doesn’t bring peace, success, joy.

It’s just hurting and hating.
It’s just pain.

Pain that has no place here anymore.

What do you see?

Let me ask you a question.

Do you see a happy woman in this picture?

She’s with her babies, smiling, seemingly enjoying life and carefree. Enjoying a family vacation.

But let’s unpack what is really happening here.

This is a few months before I left my abuser. I was already making plans, and trying to calculate how I could safely leave and take care of my kids.

There is nothing carefree and happy in this woman. There is anxiety, shame, terror. My smile only because I had the loves of my life next to me.

I was away with the kids and parents, my husband had elected not to come, and tormented me the entire vacation because I dared to leave without his blessing. I was in a personal hell, being eaten alive from inside.

So now that you know the pain behind the facade, let me ask again…

Do you see a happy woman in this picture?

The lesson is that everyone has a story, and are fighting battles you can never know about.

Smiles may be worth a thousand words, but those words may not be the ones you expect. Smiles hide pain, mask fear, cover shame.

Pictures are a moment in time, and judging someone’s wellbeing, life, happiness based on that moment, is harmful.

Check on the people you care about, often. Embrace strangers with kindness and give those that return it with anger, grace.

Are you doing ok?

How it started vs how it’s going.

How it started vs how it’s going.

Quarantine mental health edition.

It’s the same, only heavier.

I want to be grateful and enjoy the today, but the weight it too much to carry. So I won’t.

What I can handle I will, what I can’t will be there when I’m stronger.

It’s ok to not feel like this moment is worth celebrating, you can mourn what’s in the past. Life before. Life then.

You don’t have to count your blessings daily, that doesn’t mean you aren’t aware of their existence.

I know this moment will pass, even if sometimes it feels like it won’t.

That’s what life is, a series of moments, good and bad, weaved together. One rolling into the next.

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