So I go see a therapist once a month. I started going four years ago because of panic attacks, and I have dealt with a couple of scary bouts of depression over the years. Luckily, the medication and exercise regimen have kept the depression and panic attacks at bay for quite a while.
But, you know, I still go because I still have issues about stuff — hey, don’t we all! And I don’t want to just go buy some self-help book. I want to talk to another human being about it, one who’s had some sort of training to help people with issues.
This week’s session turned into a powwow about weight and body image. I’ve always been overweight. I first remember going on a diet when I was in the fourth grade. It was something my mom and I were going to do together — one of those diets you were on for four days and off for three and ate weird combinations of food because that was supposed to burn calories.
When I was a kid, there weren’t a lot of overweight kids, and there weren’t a lot of sports leagues, unless you count the church softball team. And you didn’t have these child psychologists writing articles and giving tips to parents about how to get their kids to lose weight without harming their self-esteem.
So my mom, though her intentions were only to make me as healthy as I could be, made the weight loss more about looking better. When I came home from school upset because I had been teased about my weight, her suggestion was that maybe we could both go on a diet. If I didn’t have a date for the prom, maybe I should lose weight and guys might notice me more.
I know to read it, her method sounds horribly mean, but it was never presented that way; however, the fact that she suggested I change created this subconscious thinking that something was wrong with me, that even my own mother thought the teasing was warranted. But those were my thoughts. I know now that was nowhere near what was going on in her head, but I was a kid.
And let me get this out there: I don’t blame her for what she did. I think for a short while I did, and if I tried to lose weight, I would say nothing to her about it. Then I realized that at the end of the day, I’m the one stuffing my face and parking my ass on the couch.
My therapist and I discussed all of this on Thursday. What brought the topic up was my mentioning a post I read on a blog I keep meaning to put on my blogroll. In this post, he asks, “…what if you don’t have to reject this body in order to change it?”
That just floored me. I pondered on it for days because that went against everything my subconscious had thought all these years, and I couldn’t figure out how to change my body without rejecting it. If I’m trying to change it, aren’t I rejecting something about it? Don’t the two of those things go together?
So after going ’round and ’round about it. I realized that I have to start thinking of this whole process as something that will make me the best I can be — instead of beating myself up for thinking that my weight problem makes me inferior.
The good news is that, according to my therapist, my exercise regimen (especially my power yoga) is something that will help me appreciate my body the way it is. She also said that I could try writing letters from the adult me to the me at younger ages — to nurture that area that has lacked self-esteem for so long.
And that’s where I am right now with all of this. I keep plugging away, taking it day by day. Just don’t be surprised if this page pops up with a post that starts, “Dear Me in the Fifth-Grade Picture with the Metal Mouth and Hideous Blue Shirt with the Butterfly on It…”