Monday, October 10, 2011

The Twelve Year Project, Part V


This is kind of a funny post to follow up my foodie girl post but timing has never been really been my thing. Just roll with it.

I'm in the middle of something new and to be frank, it's kind of freaking me out but I'm plugging through. Stepping out of my comfort zone and all that. And it's a funny sort of process and one that causes my anxiety level to soar upwards, but I'm managing. Barely.

Some backstory:

Remember when I made this decision? And lots of people thought it was great and some people thought it was horrible but I was okay with all of it because for the first time in ages, I felt fantastic. Like-doing-a-jig-in-your-living-room-without-any-music-playing-fantastic. And every morning when I got dressed, I marveled at the way clothes fit me. And when I stepped into the shower each morning, I had to do a double take at the body I was seeing. People commented on my appearance just about every place I went which, while being incredibly flattering, stroked my vain, vain ego.

And then the comments stopped. Everyone I knew had seen the "new" me and so the comments stopped. As they should have. But instead of seeing it for what it actually was, my uuber ego kicked in and my insecurities took over.

Maybe I didn't look good anymore?

Maybe everyone secretly thought it was a mistake?

Maybe I was getting fat again and no one knew what to say?


My frustrations (and severely needy ego) decided to show everyone what was up. By eating again. And not working out. And gaining a little weight.

And then a little more.

And then.

Well, you know.

And here's what I've learned:

People really don't give a flying leap about what size my pants are. Or what number appears when I step on the scale. People don't care if my pants are buttoned all the way up or if I have back fat. People don't care if I eat yogurt and nuts every morning or if I thrown down a bag of chips.

People don't care.


Do you hear the choral angels singing or is it just me?

I should be embarrassed about just how vain I am, how my mind tells my body over and over and over again how ugly it is. How fat is it. How unattractive it is. But I know that I had to go through all of this to get to where I am now. So I accept my super charged vain-y ego. I accept that I have been beating myself up for years with all the negative garbage swirling in my head. I accept what I've gained, and then lost, and then gained a bit again.

To be fair, I've gained 14 pounds. Not 114 pounds, not 44 pounds, but 14 from where I was at my lowest post baby weight. This is not a crisis. This isn't really even newsworthy but it's taught me so much. And so I'm sharing it here.

See, while I've been talking a good talk, I wasn't really walking the walk. Yes, surgery was absolutely the right decision for me and I will defend it to my grave. And yes, hearing people say that you look nice is a lovely thing. But it's not the only thing and for far too long, I put all of my stock on what people said about my appearance.

How embarrassing is that?

The good news? I've figured it out. I've discovered what my triggers are and what makes me spin into a cycle of negative self talk. I've worked hard to change my inner dialogue and park the negative at the door. I've stopped fishing for compliments and learned to give them to myself.

It occurred to me one day that if I took all the energy I used into hating the way I looked and channeled it into loving myself, I could do myself a world of good. And if I could actually change the way I felt about myself, I could be the role model to my girls (and boys) that I've always wanted to be. Because all that crud that I carried around? All that storming around in the closet when things didn't look right? All those words I uttered? They heard it. They saw it. And I was creating in them the negative monsters I was so desperately trying to rid myself of. I think if I could save my girls from one particular heartache, it would probably be this.

Here's the funny part: since I've been retraining my brain and making a HUGE effort to chill myself out, the scale has been going down. Little by little, those pesky 14 are heading out and it's been a huge testament to me that what we think determines what we see. If you tell yourself you can't, you won't.

But if you tell yourself you can, well, watch the farg out!

So, back to the out-of-my-comfort zone process: I've been taking pictures of myself. And I'm going to post them each Wednesday along with this gal. I'm doing it not so much to document what I've been wearing, although I dig that part, but because I need to get out of my head on this whole body image thing and accept myself. I need to stop hiding behind the camera and refusing to have my picture taken. I need for my kids to see that I'm proud of myself and that I can appreciate how able my body is. I need to break this cycle of self loathing and be accountable and comfortable with how I look.

I know, I know, the haters are going to scream that this is merely a cry for more ego stroking and frankly, they can think that. I have come to understand that changing my mind is an active process and that to do it right, I have to do the things that terrify me the most.

This is one of those things.

I'm hoping I remember to turn comments off on Wednesdays because I really don't want all 12 of you to tell me how pretty I am. The old me, yes, she would have begged for that, but this, this is for me. This is just another step in ridding myself of the beast called self-loathing. Because this body, with it's scars and sags and strength and power deserves so much better. This mind deserves to be freed up for more productive things. This girl deserves to be proud of herself.

And I'm working on it.


Amy said...

It always amazes me how rough we are on ourselves. And you are right, no one cares (at least no one who calls themselves your friend) what pants size you wear. When I look at you I see strength, determination, a sense of humor, sparkling eyes to match your wit, and a welcoming personality that makes everyone want to tell you their life story. Yes, you are gorgeous, but it's nothing compared to the inner glow you have. I love ya Karen, and I really needed this post today. Thank you my dear!

tharker said...

I want to scream it from the rooftops, I AM SO PROUD OF YOU!!!

It really is true. What you see in yourself is NOT what others see. The things that you have beat yourself up for over the years are not what others see when they look at you. I'm so so glad you are doing the WIWW posts. I think this will be so good for you to get out of that comfort zone!

Can't wait for tomorrow's post.

Megan said...

I feel ya on this one. something that shouldn't matter so much but it does. it does to me, for me. but you are right, healthy, strong and able are the best things to look for and achieve. they will hold with us the longest.
more power to you, working towards your goals. as will i.
power on!

Anonymous said...

Love it, love you!! We all need a little ego boost every once and a while. There's nothing wrong with that. But craving it can be too much, and I agree whole heartedly that we want our kids to ove themselves however they are and the only way they can do that is by modeling that ourselves. You are an amazing person, no matter what shape!

Kelly said...

I think you just revealed the thoughts of almost every woman walking this planet. Nobody I know is 100% happy with their body and struggles with how it makes them feel. Kudos to you for embracing YOU... You are perfect just the way you are!!!! (Did I use too many exclamation points?):)

Mimi said...

I have been trying to comment on this post for two days now but everything I write is super sappy and you know I don't do sappy very well. But really I just feel all sappy over this because I am so very proud of you! I love your honesty, I love your reflection on yourself, and I love that you are seeing yourself as so much more than a physical form. You are an example to so many for so much.

Anonymous said...

Thank you.
Our last family picture was taken over 7 years and three kids ago because I have felt the same way.
I'm going to work on that.
Thank you for the inspiration.

Anonymous said...

Elder Holland said:

“[P]lease be more accepting of yourselves, including your body shape and style, with a little less longing to look like someone else. We are all different. Some are tall, and some are short. Some are round, and some are thin. And almost everyone at some time or other wants to be something they are not!”


“In terms of preoccupation with self and a fixation on the physical, this is more than social insanity; it is spiritually destructive, and it accounts for much of the unhappiness women, including young women, face in the modern world. And if adults are preoccupied with appearance—tucking and nipping and implanting and remodeling everything that can be remodeled—those pressures and anxieties will certainly seep through to children.”