I will admit – I’ve been emotionally over-the-top this week. The littlest thing seems too much. The tears have been so close to the surface, and have overflowed more than once. The frustration tolerance level is at an all-time low, spilling out in some angry, testy words. Exhaustion isn’t helping the situation. I feel scattered, forgetful, slightly detached but then overly engaged at the same time.
I am not handling well the things that come with getting older, at all. Seriously. It’s bad. I have been blessed with some pretty decent genetics – neither of my parents’ faces show their ages. The wrinkles aren’t too bad. But yet, I see the difference in how my face looks now, as opposed to how it used to look. Spots have appeared. Lines have formed. I could handle all of this gracefully if that were it for signs of getting older.
I had my yearly visit the other day. When the nurse asked me to step onto the scale, I closed my eyes, told her I wasn’t looking, and asked her not to say the number out loud. This, this is the thing I’m really not doing well with. My doctor, as the endocrinologist said earlier this year, confirmed it’s just normal for women of a certain age to gain up to ten pounds. TEN POUNDS!!!!!!!! What. The. Hell????!!!!!!!!!
I think I’ve covered before my body issues. Now, I’m a small person. But I have struggled with body image since I was nine years old. Those negative words formed in my brain from a very early age. Most mornings lately start off with me saying horrible things to myself about myself. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in a good place with this. It’s been particularly bad this year, with five pounds gained since January alone, despite the fact nothing has changed in my diet or activity level. Nada. Zero. Zip. Not one single difference. I almost never eat sweets. I don’t drink soda. There’s minimal dairy, very rarely do we eat red meat. Breads, when consumed, are whole wheat/whole grain, as is the pasta. Portions are watched closely. Yes, there are cheat days, and yes, there is wine. But that’s nothing new from the last ten years. And yet, five pounds on, and those are pounds that I can’t get to go away.
When I was a freshman in college, I gained the freshman fifteen. When I came home the summer after my freshman year, I hid in my room the first month, until some of that came off. I didn’t starve myself, but I exercised compulsively, and ate almost nothing. I was in a deep depression because of my unhappiness with my body. When I developed an ovarian cyst, and an ulcer, and lost not only that freshman fifteen, but ten more besides, I was happy, but looking back at pictures from Christmas my sophomore year of college, I realize how ill I looked. The look on my Daddy’s face when I got home from school that break should have been a clue. But in my desire to be skinny, I didn’t see it. This is the place I’m coming from though…this is what I’ve carried with me most of my life.
I feel myself going back to that depressed place. Getting dressed every day gives me anxiety. What if my pants won’t button? What if the shorts that fit last month are now tight? What if that button on my shirt won’t button or gaps? I can’t stand to look in my bathroom mirror. I get angry and sad every time I get on the scale. And when I think there could possibly be five more pounds to be gained, as the doctor said, I throw up in my mouth a little bit with stress and anxiety. I am uncomfortable in my own skin, but I don’t really remember ever being comfortable in my own skin, except when I was unhealthily thin.
And these are the thoughts, the internal battles I try to hide from my teenage daughter. Lord knows I don’t need her thinking this is okay and normal.
Four hours later, after a Pilates class, and eating my favorite Panera salad for lunch…..
I thought about ditching this entire post. It probably sounds a lot whiney, especially when I say that while I’m totally unhappy at the moment with my body, I’m not willing to make any extreme changes in my diet. I won’t be going vegetarian or vegan. The 21 day fix extreme was tossed a long time ago. Paleo isn’t for me. And, as you’ll read in a post next week, we don’t do GF/DF/Anything-else-F in this household.
I don’t like seeing myself in the mirror. Clothes shopping has become fraught with anxiety, and I won’t go shopping with anyone anymore. I’v realized it’s probably time to ditch the bikini for the mom-tankini. I’m never going to look like I did when I was 25. I try to like my body, and I do give it credit for all the incredible things it’s done…give birth to three babies, run 7 half marathons, survived one knee and one shoulder surgery, and carried me through successfully and pretty healthily for over 40 years. Do I love my body – not in the least. I’m not comfortable with it. Will I continue to fight the good fight against age? Certainly. Will I give up my wine, occasional piece of French bread, cheat days, once-in-awhile pizza/filet mignon/pasta alfredo? Never! Do I know I need to come to a mentally healthy place as well to accompany my physically healthy place? Totally yes. Will I still sometimes whine and get depressed about the dumb number on the scale? Likely.
If you’ve stuck with this post for this long, thank you. Thank you for letting me process this all out, and have a complete mood swing within the space of it. My God made me. I shouldn’t disparage what He made. My husband still thinks I’m attractive, so who am I to disagree? For those women who are in my current boat, soldier on. For all who have stared down an eating disorder and won, bless you. This stuff is hard.