That Whole Body Image Thing

I weighed myself today. I am 2lbs short of the weight I was at 9 months pregnant with all three of my kids. You may think that I wanted to shot put my scale out of my bathroom window, but I didn’t. Instead I turned and looked in the mirror and smiled at myself.

When I was a teenager I was athletic because I figure skated. At 5’5″, I was always about a size 6-8. When I was 24, I starved myself down to 115lbs and a size 4. After I had my three kids I was back up to a healthy size 8. When my youngest child was about 1 year old, my fibromyalgia was at it’s very worst and I needed to start taking medications to manage it. Within two months I gained 10lbs and over the following years I gained a total of 50lbs.

Then I got divorced.

All of a sudden my body image became rather important. I began dating and wanted to look attractive. Last fall I lost about 20lbs by changing my eating habits and my subsequent drug abuse, if anything, suppressed my appetite. After getting clean, I gained that 20lbs right back. And now here I am, with a new love in my life and very much in need of facing that demon of self-loathing that is the pressure to be thin.

Recently I’ve been fascinated with the whole pinup trend. I discovered several modern-day pinups and other inspirational ladies on instagram, who are fuller figured like myself and are ravishingly beautiful. It helps to see someone else who is like you and who is basically a sex symbol. I got over my silly idea that only thin is sexy very quickly.

So here’s to you Miss_Amy_May, curve_model, msmthomas,
curvecreation and misssavvysf for inspiring me to be happy with the body I have rather than wishing for something else. Nothing is sexier than confidence after all.

Now that I am in a more emotionally healthy phase of life, my fibromyalgia has calmed down considerably and I am in the process of weaning myself off my medications. I may end up losing some of the extra weight as a result, but even if I don’t, I will be happy with how I look. Now my energy can be focused on what is important: caring for myself by getting good nutrition, exercise and rest.

This is why I look at my reflection, chubby though it may be, and I smile. Either way, I win because my worth is not based on how light I am or the size of my thigh gap (oh who am I kidding; I don’t have a thigh gap). My beauty is not limited to a dress size. I am thrilled to be me, just as I am. It’s the only me there is, after all. And I love her.
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Recovery

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How do I learn a new and difficult skill at a time when my life is figuratively sliding off a cliff into a sea of trouble? This is the question that has been hanging over my head for the past 11 months.

When my marriage ended the break was not clean. It was long and messy and painful. The decision to leave came first. Then came the nerve to say it out loud. Then came the storm, the broken damn, the overflow of anger, the fear, the guilt, the mental breakdown, the blood, the tears and the hospital ward.

I had been like a matryoshka doll. I had many layers, many smaller selves inside myself. By the time I was curled up on my hospital bed, too terrified to even face life, I was the tiniest, frail peg of myself. On the other side of the locked door was a very difficult reality: three hurting children, worried family members and friends and one house to share between two enemies. I wanted to escape it all. I wanted to take a detour away from reality and into solace.

The truth was that I was angry and I directed the anger inward. I became both hedonistic and self-destructive. I wanted to devour pleasure until it hurt and didn’t much care about the consequences. I made the wrong kind of friends and frequented the wrong kind of places. Within a month of being out of the psych ward, if my kids were with their dad, I was partying. I was doing hard drugs and was unabashedly promiscuous. In the span of 6 months I slept with at least 30 people. I was a meth addict. I was drinking most days of the week. I was on the verge of losing everything, but the thrill of living so close to the edge while maintaining the semblance of a normal life was hard to give up.

Regardless of my reckless living, I did maintain my job (barely) and home life. I was a functioning addict. As time passed I was able to give up drugs and stop drinking excessively. This was thanks to new and good people coming into my life and telling me I was better than all that. I know, obvious right? But for some reason I needed to hear it. I stopped the partying and distanced myself from bad influences. I had seen the edge and I had come close to falling over it and I somehow found the courage to crawl away from it to safety.

I am sober now. I have a wonderful new partner in my life. My home life is evolving into a new version of normal that is better than any normal I have ever known before. I kept my job, my house and my children. I nearly threw it all away. I was extremely foolish and reckless and I am extremely grateful that it didn’t ruin my kid’s lives and it didn’t end mine.

How do I learn to rebuild my life after divorce when all I can see and hear is pain and anger and chaos? I will only do it through steadfast love and respect for my kids and the resolve that their well being is so much more important than my discontent.

From now on I will always be in recovery. I am a recovering addict and I am also recovering from the demise of my marriage. I am recovering from self-loathing and guilt for risking so much. But the key word is recovery. I am getting it back together more and more all the time, or at least, that’s the idea! I have my low days and then I have days where I break down in tears because I am so relieved to be alive and I am overwhelmed by how much love surrounds me.

I look at my sweet kids, my new love, the blue sky dotted with clouds on a summer day, a kitty cat sprawled contentedly at the top of the stairs, my hands that are tired but still strong and still young; I feel the breath flowing in and out of my lungs, I feel my heart tapping at my chest. It says “you there, you there; you’re living, you’re living; keep going; don’t stop…”

Single Parenting: Day 29

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It’s been nearly a month since I’ve had the house to myself. After many months of being separated but sharing the same living space, my kids’ dad moved out to his own place and I officially became a single parent. I felt both relieved and lost when I was finally on my own. I felt relieved in that the constant tension was over, but lost because my children would no longer be with me 100% of the time. Out of love for them, I avoided a custody battle. We didn’t go to court. And so I agreed to share custody 50/50. They are with me for a week and then with their dad for a week. The weeks they are gone, I miss them so much. I will miss 50% of the rest of their childhoods. And they will miss having their mom there every day.

So I’ve been sad. It’s as if my life has been falling apart before my eyes in slow-motion for the past 6 months. It’s now a million little bits swirling in a wind of confusion around me. Every day I keep trying to grab hold of the pieces and force them back together into something that resembles wholeness. The family I tried for 13 years to build and nurture is now gone. I did it. I broke the illusion. I smashed it. Now my task is to build something new and better. However, I am worn right down. I feel damaged and scarred. Each little step toward the better feels daunting.

You could say I am a bit of a hot mess. In fact, some might say I am at hot mess level: tire fire. For example, this past Sunday evening at 8:30 pm I realized I needed to buy groceries for the coming week. I took the three rather over-tired children to the supermarket and loaded up on necessities. After I got home and unloaded the car, I remembered I had to take the garbage and recycling out. There was a lot because I had forgotten to put it out the previous week. By the time I was done, it was dark and time to tuck the smallest children into bed. When I was finally done that, I collapsed on the couch and dozed off. About an hour later I awoke and remembered that I had not put the groceries away! However, my eldest child reassured me that she had taken it upon herself to put the cold foods away for me. With that I drifted back off to sleep.

In the morning I went into the kitchen to find all of the perishable food sitting out…except for the eggs and milk…which the eldest child had thoughtfully put in the fridge. It appeared we had had a small miscommunication. Of course, I didn’t blame her, I blamed myself for not just putting the darn groceries away when I should have.

At that point I may have shouted “fuck my fucking life!” no less than three times as I tossed the spoiled food into the trash. Not only did I have to throw about $50.00 worth of groceries away, but I didn’t have anything to make sandwiches for the kids school lunches. I went to the fridge and found some bologna. I thought to myself “bologna is good forever, right? This should be fine” and made the kids and myself some sandwiches. Once I had finally gotten the kids to school (late as usual) I hurried off to work, questionably-fresh bologna sandwich in hand.

It’s been nearly a month of feeling as if I’m teetering on the brink of failure on a daily basis. I now have a big house to pay for and take care of on my own and a heartache 50% of the time. Pieces of my old life are scattered around my feet. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.

At moments such as these I must decide if I’m going to just plop down on the floor and cry, or take a bite of my sandwich and soldier the fuck on. The sad voice inside of me says “take a day off. Crawl back into bed and just give up for today. It’s too hard!” But the voices of my kids ring in my ears “you’re the best mom ever! I love you mom!” and that gives me all the motivation I need to dust myself off and keep going.