My Drew. Gosh, he was the cutest baby. When I was pregnant with him, they thought something wasn’t right with his kidneys. I saw the ultrasound techs face and knew. Kevin thought I was disappointed that he was a boy. I wasn’t. I knew by her face, we’d get a call.
We did. And a level two ultrasound. But he was fine. Is fine. Thankfully.
This is my favorite photo of the two of us. Even though my posture is off and I have wild hair. You can see I am happy and healthy. That I love where I am. Who I am. What I was. I made that Mei Tei. I was finally falling into motherhood. Accepting that it was what I wanted to do, even though I’d felt like I had bumbled my way through it up until then. We were babies ourselves when we’d started our family. I never realized how much I’d miss those days.
I started to lose myself shortly after this. We packed up our whole life and moved to Pennsylvania hoping this would be a fresh start and our home. It’s been challenging at best. I’ve lost as much as I have gained. Maybe more. Sometimes I find myself thinking that the move here was the biggest mistake of my life. Kevin has tried to help me see the silver lining but it’s hard to see the joy when you’re so muddled up in the sadness. He reminds me that all that happened could have happened there. I tend to disagree.
I lost myself here.
It started with my friends. The fall out of a mother’s group, I watched one by one as we parted ways. I felt ashamed and shunned, my church shortly followed and eventually my faith. Which I am coming to terms with and learning to love my new-found ability to question everything. Even when it makes people uncomfortable. But once I’d lost most of my friend base and my church, I started to let myself go too. In about 5 years I gained 50 pounds. Putting me at a weight I am too afraid to even say. I can’t figure out how except maybe sugar but it happened. And I stopped letting people take my photo and I stopped letting anyone touch me. I could barely look at myself. I wore the same ratty clothes and I never left. When I did it was in a long sweater and I hid in the corner, hoping no one would see me there.
There is almost no record I existed the last 5 years.
And in that five years, the demons in my head, they won. Over and over, telling me that I sucked at everything. Everything. Parenting, loving, crafting, talking, friending. I put the camera down, the paint brushes. I stopped trying. The demons told me I was unloved and unlovable. Sometimes they still do. I heard in everyone’s voices I was a bad mother and a bad friend. A bad child and a bad sister. I was a bad wife. I wasn’t worthy and I wasn’t pretty and I wasn’t kind or smart or helpful. I was worthless.
I let bad people tell me that too. I still do.
Worthless. I can hear them as they mock my lack of a job. Not knowing how much I carry. And it’s a lot. I just chose not to prove it to you. I take care of everyone. Everything. Thanklessly. Always.
But I am taking the steps to reclaim my worth. And I’ve lost so much weight and gained so much strength. And I did it the right way. With diet and exercise. The scale tells me I am working hard. So do the measurements and the feelings inside. But when I look in the mirror I see the same sad, chubby, ugly girl and I think, “who the hell is that?” I still see the wrongs and none of the rights.
Brains are cruel things sometimes. My body image is so tied up in this idea of what broke me that all I can think is I must have just been a hideous monster for what happened to me. Comparison is the thief of joy and to be pushed aside for something so truly ugly, well, it does a number on you. And no amount of weight loss is going to fix it. And I don’t know how to change it inside my head.
How do I see the beautiful people tell me I have? How do I see the arm divet without wondering if my arms are really that big or if it’s just the camera angle? How do I convince myself that I am worthy and beautiful and kind and smart? How do I love myself?
How do I start to love myself?
How do I stop listening to the demons? I can feel happy and then, bam, the sad comes back. I’ve covered myself in armor trying to avoid the triggers and yet, they still creep in, reminding me. There will always be this hole. It’s unfillable now. And I want to stop thinking about it and wanting. I want to stop wanting and worrying and thinking and reverting back to the old girl, April’s girl. I want to be new… and shiny and happy and in love with myself.
I just want to be whole. I want to look in the mirror and not question what I am seeing. I want to stop worrying and just go with the flow. I just want some happy, more often and less this. I don’t want to have to work so hard not to feel so sad. Happy shouldn’t be so hard. Even though I know it’s worth the work. Happy should be easy. I know my happiness is there… the work is removing the rest.
“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.” — Helen Keller