Feb

27

Playing the Beauty

I have never been the most confident woman.  Even when I was young and beautiful, my body dysmorphia made it difficult to see those things about myself. I look back and feel regret for not loving myself.  I am trying to love who I am now despite not feeling attractive but it has been difficult.  When I was a size 10-12 I was so self-conscience about my body that I couldn’t even go swimming without my shorts.  So the Summer of 2015 I decided that all though I was the heaviest I had been I would start to accept myself so that IF I ever got back to my ideal size I would be more willing to love myself. It was the first time since I was 8 years old I didn’t go swimming in shorts. I felt self-conscience but empowered.

A couple weeks ago I put on my big girl panties and step out to audition for a theater company I had never worked with before. I was nervous and I, at times, doubt my own talent.  As I auditioned for And Then There Were None, I saw I was up against about 20 beautiful girls. About 1/2 were pretty good contenders in the acting category and there are only 3 women roles. A small 4-page role (Mrs. Rogers), and old spinster woman (Miss. Brent) and the young ingenue (Vera Claythorne). I tried my best but I watched a beautifully thin girl play the role perfectly.  I knew I had a good rehearsal and so I figured I would be cast as the old woman. After all, I have always been a good “character actor” especially since getting bigger. When the cast list was sent out I was in disbelief. I got the young and beautiful Vera Claythorne, who some of the men hit on.

I was excited, thrilled, and felt so happy to be cast into his role. But then my self-doubt hit me.  How can I play the beauty?  It’s hard for me to see myself as pretty.  I mean sometimes I do, so I know that is not a far-fetched thing, but the problem is I feel too big to feel attractive… And definitely not the “that woman is so attractive I’m sure 2 handsome men will hit on her constantly and one kisses her” attractive.  There are lines that feel like they sting instead of flatter.  And when I have to run and panic, I feel my body fails me every time.

The book’s description of Vera Claythorne:

-The athletic type (pg. 168)
-Quite attractive but schoolmistressy (p. 5)

The play description:

-A good-looking girl in her twenties.

Pictures of actresses who have played Vera:

vera collage See… gorgeous! And thin!!

I try to get into character but my doubts and lack of confidence in my body cause me to doubt everything I do.  I want to succeed, I want to act and I  know that to be a good actress you have to throw away all abandonment but I can’t help feel like I am a stranger in my own skin.

How can I do my job and push aside my insecurities? I am working on it and I believe that there is a reason I was cast as this role and not someone else.  I have made some friends in the cast already and the girl who was cast as Miss Brent, who happens to be in her 20’s, thin, and beautiful, gave me one of the nicest compliments.  She said, “I’m so glad you were cast as Vera. I thought they were going to go with one of those overly young girls.  Your monologue was so good! You deserved this role.”

I do deserve this role and I am not going to let my demons take that away from me. It may be a tug-of-war but I believe I will win out in the end. I have to!

Aug

31

The real aftermath of the war against depression and anxiety.

My husband and I have just met a huge milestone in our relationship.  We have been married for 10 years now.  Quite an accomplishment especially in a world riddled with divorce.  When you think of a successful 10 year wedding anniversary, you think of celebration.  Many couples go on a cruise, or maybe a stay-cation.  Some do fancy dinners and updated wedding rings or other fine jewelry. Maybe a party, a renewal of vows but one thing’s for certain, those successful couples celebrates privately in their own “romantic” way.

My husband and I love each other very much.  We have been through tremendous amounts of ups and downs and more struggles than I think most couples face in the first 10 years.  It hasn’t been fair to either of us but we have pushed forward and aren’t giving up.  Our marriage is still surviving the battle, but the truth is there are always casualties of war.  Our fallen soldier has been intimacy, specifically sexual intimacy.  It is such an important component of marriage and yet I see it laying there by the wayside bleeding out and dying of starvation.

You know what we did for our 10 year anniversary? Nothing.  We had plans to maybe go away but it didn’t happen.  My husband was gone all day from 8 am to about 10 pm preparing for his film shoot while I had pretty much one of the worst days ever.  I had all three kids, had to go to 3 stores to get food for the film shoot and buy school supplies.  It was a humid 118-degree day, I had to borrow my mother’s car since our breaks are out and then I backed into a car in the Walmart parking lot around 1 pm (pretty much the hottest part of the day).  I also had 3 hours of rehearsal where I was teaching a dance to people who don’t usually dance and I really showed my mental stability by crying in front of all of them.  As I left rehearsal I was in the car driving home sobbing, I saw that my husband had made me a video for our anniversary.  It was short and sweet and filled with random people he saw throughout the day wishing me a Happy Anniversary.  It was sweet and kind but I couldn’t give it the attention it deserved.  I couldn’t give my husband the gratitude he deserved. He tried his best to make something out of our anniversary and I couldn’t give anything back.  And that is a perfect summary of our relationship. Especially our sexual relationship.

For years my husband has given so much, He has tried so hard and I can’t reciprocate.  So he gives less because honestly he can’t give anymore and I don’t blame him.  This is the same issue with intimacy.  He doesn’t even try anymore because I know in his mind it’s pointless and sadly he’s right.

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I have never had much of a sex drive. My own personal relationship with sexual desire was twisted from a young age due to molestation and when intimacy arose in my first relationship at the age of 18 I was constantly filled with unnecessary shame and guilt. These issues made their way into our relationship from the beginning and we had to fight against them.  It was not easy but we continued to work at it.  Then depression and added anxiety entered our relationship.  The first thing that was affected was sex.  What little desire I had was gone. All the issues we had worked on came barreling back.  My self-hatred and body dysmorphia made me shudder at the thought of being touched. Still, I fought those feelings and tried so hard to give him the intimacy he deserved and needed. But it wasn’t nearly enough. Truth is, we are now on year 8 of consistent and never ending depression and anxiety and our sex life is worse than ever.

Since the medication that led to me gaining 150 lbs, I have become so incredibly uncomfortable. I am uncomfortable in my skin. To be touched in a romantic (and even unromantic) ways makes me feel almost disgusted.  I feel queasy and uneasy. I can barely even cuddle feeling the way I do.  This is only intensified by the guilt and anger I feel.  I want so badly to be the wife my husband deserves and it kills me that I can’t.  Instead of being in an intimate moment I get caught up in my own self-hatred. My husband will try to look lovingly in my eyes to tell me he loves me or that I’m beautiful and attractive and it’s a struggle not to pull away.  I can’t maintain eye contact with him.  It physically hurts. It’s awkward to hold hands with him,  to kiss him, to have his arms around me.  It feels so foreign and all I can think about is how much I let him down, how much I hurt him by being what I am and how unattractive and gross I feel. Then the real guilt filled thoughts come, the thought that if I let him touch me then he will think we may do something intimate I just don’t have it in me, I can’t follow through.  It becomes another reason to avoid touch or eyes or anything remotely loving because I don’t want to lead him on.  For him to think he might “get something” that I just can’t follow through with. It truly kills me to know that I can’t give him a healthy intimate relationship.

Why this post?  Why now? He and I have talked about this subject before, we’ve known this has been a problem for some time now, but tonight my husband said the words that I have pushed aside in my brain too many times to count.  He said, ” I don’t know if we can come back from this.  I don’t know if we can ever truly be intimate again.”  He wasn’t talking just about sex. He was talking about that connection, that trust, that love that comes from real “love making”.  I know he’s right.  I just don’t know what to do about it. I feel helpless, trapped, angry, guilty and scared.

He is a man who needs sex.  Not just sex but real intimacy and connection and I can’t give it to him.  I want to but I can’t… among the millions upon millions of other things I am failing at this one is the hardest to fix.

There is no solution.  I am so focused on surviving the day, on making sure my kids aren’t neglected, or even stomaching loving touches from my kids who have to hug my disgusting body, that the last thing I would ever want to do is be in a romantic situation. Then there is my poor husband who can’t express that he needs physical attention because he knows the guilt I already feel, how much I beat myself up daily in my mind. The guilt he then feels for expressing his own need makes him feel awful. It’s not fair. I want to blame the depression and anxiety but they are so much a part of me I can’t separate them from myself.  This causes more self-loathing that just perpetuates the situation.

In the battle with depression and anxiety, sexual intimacy is attacked and suffers the most in relationships but it is never really talked about. Not really.  Looking for help concerning the matter has the most generic of answers.  It’s nothing I haven’t tried before which makes me feel even more defeated.  How can I overcome this?  How can I really get over these crippling feelings and thoughts? If the depression and anxiety magically disappear would I still feel like my husband is a stranger in the bedroom?  Will I still crave touch but shudder at the manifestation of that needed affection? Will he still want me when this is all over?  Or will we continue to be invested, roommate? Cause that is what we feel like right now, “roommates” and I HATE it.  I Hate all of this…

 

Apr

15

Coming out and Coming clean

Admitting to the world wide web you have depression is not a big deal.  Especially when you are anonymous. Admitting it to the people you know is harder.  I shared this post on Facebook April 6th, 2015.  The response back was very positive.  I even got a few private messages with people sending their support, love, and help.  I didn’t really change a whole lot.  I don’t have to “hide” anymore but I’m not sure I was doing a lot of that before.  If I was to be completely honest, I think the main reason I shared this was so that people didn’t judge me for my weight gain. On Facebook friends post and tag you from parties and get-togethers and I was usually really embarrassed by photos people would post.  I didn’t want people who haven’t seen me in years thinking I was just some stay at home mother who sat around doing nothing but eats bon bons all day.  Truthfully my post below is excusing my weight gain, not really bringing awareness to depression and anxiety.  It kind of shows that shallow side of myself that really hates my weight and judgement from others…

 

 

“Spring represents new beginnings. I have decided to open up about something that is deeply personal, that often has nasty stigmas connected to it. After Blake was born I had began to have issues with postpartum depression and anxiety. I struggled with recognizing the signs. I kept thinking that I would just get better. It sadly got worse, especially after Liam was born. In the Fall of 2011 life happened and I spiralled into severe depression. After some really hard trials I finally decided I should take real action. The choice to start medication was not an easy one especially since I had found out I was pregnant. We waited until the end of pregnancy to start. Since then I have been on about 7 different medications with multiple doses. With each medication and dosage change I gained more and more weight. I never lost the pregnancy weight or any weight since I started medication, which seemed to not really make any difference with my depression or anxiety. In the space of about 3 years I went from my high school graduation weight to gaining almost 150 pounds. Trust me when I say weight gain makes depression worse and it really plays a number on your self-esteem. This whole ordeal has been a really hard life experience not only for me but for my family as well.

Now onto new beginnings. Last winter we stopped all medications. We had not been successful and decided to take a break especially after a really bad bout with my last prescription. We have started seeking out other options. For some reason, in the last 2 months, there had been a change. I’m still not where I want to be or where I feel I should be but there is progress, there is hope for the first time in a long time. As scary as it is I am now trying to conquer this weight that has been a terrible side effect of this ongoing struggle. There is a really long journey ahead of me still but I have to try. I don’t want to be ashamed of leaving my house anymore, seeing old friends or meeting new people. Admittance and acceptance is a step I feel I need to take as I move forward with my life.

So here’s to new beginnings, growth and to learning to love myself again.”

 

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Jul

20

The weight of the world…on my butt

A 29-year-old, mother of three with weight issues?  What???

Shocking, I know, but it’s true.

So a nice thing about this blog is I get to be completely honest and I am going to take full advantage of that.  Let’s start off by saying I am the biggest I have ever been in my life and it is downright physically and emotionally debilitating!  I absolutely hate it. And if it isn’t enough that I am super self-conscious of it, I am constantly feeling the pressure and judgement of everyone around me.  Granted most of it is in my head, or is it?  We all know how obsessed society is with weight and looks, especially women, so there is no reason for me to go off on that. There are a million articles online about it.  But I feel I need to get somethings off my chest… and hips… and butt…

scale comic

So here is me and my story.

Let’s start with Statistics:  I am 5 ft 9 3/4 in (the 3/4 is very important)  I have never been a petite woman.  At my lowest, I weighed in at about 150 pounds and that weight suited my large boned, curvy, amazon body type well. At that size, I wore a 34 B/C had a 25 in waist and thighs and butt that refuse to be tamed.  Wore a size 8/10 pants and 7/8 dress.  This was my ideal but staying there is a challenge!  Currently, I am the same height but everything else has changed. I am now bouncing between 280-290 pounds. I can uncomfortable fit into size 20 pants, bra 42DD, and my once favorite asset (my stomach) has begun sticking out past my enormous breasts.

How did this happen?  It was so fast yet so gradual.  The worse part of this is that in the Summer of 2011 I was at my ideal size and in a mere 3 years I am 140 pounds overweight ashamed of everything about me.  I have refused to go to parties, church, the Doctors and even the Dentist because of how ashamed I am of my size.  The idea of someone seeing me (especially people who haven’t seen me in a while, like my Dentist) causes me to have a panic attack. It sounds so ridiculous when I type it out but in my head, the pain is so real!

Through all of this, the hardest thing for me to figure out is how to handle this severe hatred for my body with my children.  My hatred of myself began as a child, mostly based on the actions of my Mother and I don’t want to pass that down to my children.

 woman-pinching-her-fat-250-thumb-250x250 

The self-hate talk is programmed so deep it’s hard not to talk negatively about myself. I want my kids to have a healthy self-image and also live a healthy lifestyle. Two things that I am desperately struggling with.

Time for some back story:  I have never been “small”. By 2 I was the height of a 4-year-old by 2nd grade I was being confused as a 4th grader. I was always the tallest in my class and therefore the biggest.  With my height and mass; I was a very “sturdy” child. As a young girl, I mistook this to be bad. When I reached 3rd grade my whole life had changed. My parents were now divorced, I was starting a new school with no friends, we had no money, it was the beginning of my awkward phase and as always I was the largest girl in my grade. I had chunked out a bit and with all of the changes in my life I was very insecure.  The first friend I made in school was a little Korean girl. We made quite an odd couple.  I remember lining up to do a physical with the rest of my classmates. We were checked for lice, scoliosis, sight, hearing, height and weight.  My little friend weighed in at 40 pounds and I was a whopping 90 pounds.  That number was engraved into my head. I felt monstrous! I went home to my mom with my concern and insecurities to be met with a response that has plagued me ever since.  Instead of a comforting speech on everyone is different, that you are taller than everyone else so of course, you will weigh more, or that you are growing, not to worry about weight right now, you will even out, etc. Her response was, “Let’s go on a diet together.”

This response told me that I was fat. That I had a reason to feel bad about myself. That even my mother saw something wrong with me.

But did she know any better?  My Mother had weight issues that started as a young girl from her abusive parents who called my petite mother of 5’4″ 112 pounds, bubble butt, and thunder thighs (the G-rated version).  She was consistently abused emotionally, mentally, physically and sexually.  She became bulimic around the age of 16 until she was in her 20’s. It wasn’t until she was in the bathroom puking and feeling the effects of laxatives all at the same time with her 2 yr old son banging on the door crying to be let in that she realized she needed to stop.  All though she stopped the “purge” part of the bulimic process she continued to eat in unhealthy patterns, including the “binge” period.  To this day she still struggles with healthy eating.  She then put on weight, especially when pregnant with me and was no longer her skinny “fat” self, and she was in the constant mind that she was obese, needing to diet and she hated her body.

Her own self-image issues began to transfer to me.  My Mother is not a delicate woman. She says inappropriate things and at inappropriate times, usually with too much info and this did not stop when it came to criticizing weight.  I realized my mother’s faults and trials early on but it still didn’t stop the way her words hurt. The message was heard loud and clear in my young forming brain. It was not okay to be fat and that was what I was.   But she wasn’t the only one. My Mother and Father criticized and judges those who were overweight.  My Dad joked about my size and my brother’s.  I never felt comfortable in my own skin.  These words along with unhealthy eating habits, not so much what we ate but how much and when set my brother and I up to fail.

When my Mother remarried my stepfather felt the need to control everything. Including what we ate.  Although he provided healthy dinners we were restricted to unhealthy amounts.  We were not allowed in the kitchen, didn’t matter if we were growing kids we could never have seconds and although he had a candy drawer in the fridge we were never allowed to touch it without being severely disciplined.  This led to food sneaking and hiding.  Not just my brother and I, but my Mother too.  She would sneak treats and we would binge on them so we could get rid of the evidence.  We would jump between periods of barely any food, to binge eating, to my mom trying to make us all diet so that she could lose weight, and then sneaking and hiding food.  My view of food, health, and nourishment was completely twisted and damaging.

Through my tween and early teen years, I thought I was fat and ugly.  I always wore baggy clothes partly because of that what I would get in hand-me-down charity bags and because I was so insecure about my own size.  I look at pictures now and I see a healthy looking girl who was never overweight. But that isn’t what I remember. I remember my Mom in the dressing room with me as I tried on a black swimsuit that was 1 size too small; and as I tried to get it on my mother laughing and joking that I looked like a beached whale or a seal, followed by seal barks…  Yeah, that happened.  Or trying on an outfit that was not meant for my body proportions  (butt too big, stomach to small) and my mother commenting on my large size saying that I was not “big” I was “massive”.  I followed back saying, “Thanks, Mom, next you will be calling me a cow”.  Her reply, “Well, only a Jersey. They’re the smaller ones”. What was I to think of myself? It’s amazing how words from others and our own thoughts can alter reality.

My Junior year I became sick and put on about 20 pounds.  As I started my Senior year I was about 189 pounds realizing that I was close to 200 pounds.  I decided to get healthy and if that meant I dropped some weight, great.  I began saying no to sweets.  I ate basically the same breakfast and lunch every day.  My portion sizes at dinnertime (or binge time, like it was with my Mother) were cut in half and I took full advantage of going all out and more during my dance and theatre rehearsal, doing crunches and other extra exercises in between.  By the time I graduated I weight 153 pounds.  During my entire Senior year, I dropped 36 pounds and began to feel better about myself.  I still wore clothes that were too baggy (although I was then I size 10 I wore my size 14 and 16 pants).  Again, it was a mixture of insecurity and no money to buy clothes that fit.  You would think that during this time of great success and finally feeling in control of my body my Mother would be happy for me. Instead, she was jealous!  How could I be losing weight and she not? I must be doing something bad to be looking so good.  I was constantly interrogated by ridiculous inquiries and even confessions from my friends that my mother constantly asked the if I was eating or throwing up in the bathroom after I ate.  Because the only way I could lose weight was if I had an eating disorder.  If you couldn’t tell, my relationship with my parents by the time I was in high school was at an impasse.

For a while, I maintained my weight. I gained some in college but was still healthy and sadly insecure.  However, bad habits caught up with me.  During a very busy and stressful semester at college, I began to forget to eat.  I lost weight because of lack of food.  When things started calming down again I began to eat and since I was in a relationship I began to eat a little too much. I began to put on weight and then the real struggle with weight began.  I Married weighing 183 pounds and in that first year of marriage we both put on weight. While pregnant with Blake I gained about 20 pounds and after he was born stayed around 190 -205.  Depression started and eating became a stress reliever. I then had Liam, after the baby weight was gone I found myself at a whopping 223.  I decided to get healthy but I couldn’t get below 209.  My husband and I decided to follow the HCG diet. I dropped down to 155. Although the depression was still there I felt somewhat motivated and better about myself than I had in a long time. I was even able to wear my Senior year prom dress but I still felt I needed to lose more, it wasn’t enough, I was still too big. But for a moment I felt the inklings of being attractive.  Sadly, it was short-lived.  Maintaining weight isn’t easy, especially when trials arrive.

We began to have money problems.  We realized we needed to move, my son was struggling with issues and my depression and anxiety began to take over.  Our marriage (because of my depression) began to struggle as well. I sought solace in food. I put on about 30 pounds in a few months and then found out I was pregnant.  We moved from a 2,300 sq. ft. 4 bed 2 1/2 bath home into a  1,400 sq. ft. 3 bed 1 bath home while I was 6 months pregnant. We downsized everything in our house. It was not the easiest time. During my pregnancy with Keira, I gained roughly 50 pounds.  I was embarrassed and ashamed. Even though I knew I was pregnant all I could see was that in a year I had put on 80 pounds. The depression had become too much and I finally admitted that I had depression and I needed help.  I couldn’t do it on my own. This was for me to officially admit and as soon as Keira was born I got on anti-depressants (Despite my husband being against it at the time). I did not lose any of the baby weight.  In the last 22 months, I have been on 5 different medications and have gained 60 more pounds.

My weight has a strong emotional connection to how I feel.  Heck, I can remember exactly how much I weighed at different times in my life. My self-worth is often tied directly to the scale and as much as I try to use logic to break those ties, I cannot. I just dig myself deeper.  The worse thing is knowing that is I just consistently ate well and exercised not only would I drop some weight it could potentially help with the depression.  Give me more motivation.  How can I do that when there are days I can barely take care of my family? Barely get out of bed?

As I struggle to look at myself in the mirror and battle all of the terrible names I call myself in my head; I look at my beautiful children and fear that if I don’t watch myself they will have the same struggles.  They are all large kids for their ages and very sturdy.  They weigh more than kids their height and size but they are strong and fit. There is not an ounce of fat on them.  This is what I was. Not fat but strong.  But I didn’t know that! I didn’t see it.  I don’t want my insecurities to reflect onto them.  I want to get them under control.  I want to step out of my house without feeling everyone’s eyes on me and my excess weight.  I want to love myself despite how I look but I don’t know if that is possible.  The answer seems so easy but it’s another battle of logic and reason vs. emotion and fear.  And guess which one has been winning?

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