My body’s had its ass kicked.
To date, I’ve survived cervical cancer, Graves disease, endometriosis, infertility, PCOS, and I’ve kicked post partum depression and anxiety in the ass three times, along with a similar version of depression and anxiety that came after my hysterectomy in 2010.
But there was a price to be paid for beating all that: the medication that saved my life (I don’t lie, and I’m not going to start now — I was suicidal during my battle with post partum depression) combined with a hysterectomy in my early thirties caused me to gain 100 pounds. I weighed 150 pounds (a healthy weight for my body type) on the morning I had my hysterectomy. One year later, I weighed 250 pounds.
Did I always make the best dietary choices? No, not always, but mostly. But six months after my hysterectomy, my anti depressant stopped working, and my doctor added wellbutrin into the mix of xanax xr and zoloft I was already taking.
My weight kept climbing, and my depression just deepened. It had taken me close to a year to lose the weight after I had my oldest child. After my middle child was born, it took me six months (I was smarter in my food choices with my second daughter). After my son was born in June of 2010, I lost the baby weight within three weeks. But the exhaustion of my body recovering from such a major surgery in the fall of 2010, right on the heels of giving birth for the second time in eighteen months, combined with all those medications? I didn’t stand a chance.
I hated the way I looked. I hated the way I felt. Watching what I ate alone didn’t help, exercising did little except make me more exhausted. From Halloween 2011 until New Years Day in 2012, I struggled, and damn near gave up when despite eating nothing but a healthy diet and walking two miles a day (god bless the treadmill) yielded a two pound weight loss. I made an appointment with my doctor.
“Your body has been through a lot. Its not unusual for women to have their metabolism bottom out after they have a hysterectomy due to the huge fluctuation of hormones. You’re also on several medications that aren’t going to help your metabolism either.”
I went home, tossed my anti depressants (they weren’t doing any good at that point, and I’d gotten the okay from my doctor to discontinue their use), and gave up the only vice I’d held onto after switching to a healthier diet: my daily trip to Starbucks.
It’s been three years. And in those three years, I’ve learned more about myself and the world at large than I ever thought possible.
When I started the Be Better Project in January of 2012, I had a goal of getting my body bikini ready.
I was very wrong to set that as my goal. What I needed to be doing is getting my soul life ready.
The world isn’t kind to those who don’t fit into some skewed ideal of beauty. If you’re not a size two, with blonde hair, tanned, and fit under the heading of “perfect”, very few people are interested. It’s a bullshit ideal. And it’s a painful ideal to be a victim of.
Me? I let other people’s ideals, right or wrong, impact the way I saw myself. I let myself get mind fucked into believing I wasn’t beautiful because I didn’t fit a bullshit idea. It wasn’t until I accepted that I’d never been a size two, that I’d never be perfect, that my abdomen would never be scar free (five plus abdominal surgeries in my quest for motherhood and health), that I truly began changing for the better.
I started this with the want to look physically beautiful, to fit those fucked up ideas.
I ended it embracing myself as I am, and seeing those scars as trophies from hard won battles against life, health, and my sanity.
Three years, three months and one hundred and five pounds after starting the Be Better Project, I am a different woman. Is my body perfect? Nope. Will I ever grace the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition? Nope. Do I still have abdominal scars and stretch marks and a poochy belly? Yep. Do I give a shit? Fuck NO. My body isn’t perfect. But it is MINE. With my body, I have given birth to three beautiful souls. I’ve beaten illnesses. I’ve fought for my sanity and WON.
I’ve posted these photos in this blog for a couple of reasons: the first is in the hopes that someone with a similar story to mine will read it and feel less alone in their own struggles with their body image. The second is because I always keep my word, and three years ago, I promised the listeners of TweepNation that I’d post photos in “the bikini” at the end of the Be Better Project. And the third? Honesty. And lack of fear of people’s opinions on my body. Anyone who will judge my imperfections in a hateful manner is not a person who is actually going to see me as ME.
And ME is pretty damn awesome. Me is a woman who after years of hating herself has finally opened up my arms wide to hug myself and say “I love you. You’re beautiful.”
Back in January, I was scheduled for a tummy tuck to remove those abdominal scars and have my separated abdominal muscles reattached. A slight infection caused the surgery to be cancelled and rescheduled at a later date. A few days before the scheduled surgery, I’d emailed a friend a list of daily gratitudes, one of which was the following: “I’ve learned to love my body as is and I will miss its flaws…” I won’t be having the surgery until its necessary. And I don’t want it to be necessary.
“Better” started out as me losing weight. But I ended this in a truly “Better” way: I love ME. Who I am as a person is defined in those scars on my abdomen: flawed, but for good reason.
Love yourself as is folks. Embrace your flaws for what they are: markers on a life well lived.
I’d stay and chat, but my bikini is too loose… I’m off to buy a new one.