A few weeks ago I was reminded On That Day that it's been about three years since I posted my very first blog. I've been meaning to write for awhile and that definitely spiked my guilt sensors (which are acutely sensitive, by the way). It's been about seventeen months since I have written and I wasn't even that prolific before that. I'm not even sure anyone is still reading but, if you are, let me tell you where I've been.
I feel like I'm in some VH1 special about a B-list, Screech-like celebrity, though I'm sure I'd be more likely to end up on Dances with the Stars instead of a sex tape. Maybe. Who am I kidding? I really can't dance.
(Note: I probably won't be filling this blog with funny memes and pictures as is my usual way. There really aren't any that are even relevant and I'm still recovering from a Google search for funny Screech/Porn memes. Word to the wise - don't. Just don't.)
Where have I been? Well, to sum up I'm completely cured of all body confidence and worthiness issues, I've reached my goal weight and I've had no more reason to overshare with all you people.
Life. And I needed a break. And vulnerability is exhausting sometimes.
My last post left me pretty spent. Maybe not the post itself but the whole experience. I had challenged myself to be vulnerable and open at a difficult time when I started the blog and when I had surgery. For the last three years I have, in the name of body gratitude, publicly talked about my body for an entire month on Facebook. I overshared about my life-long feelings of shame. I was terrified when I had a boudoir photo shoot, all in an effort to see my own beauty and embrace my size. And I was scared to death when I got on a stage to sing in order to face my body image fears that have kept me from trying new things. Frankly, I was tired and emotionally spent from trying to double-dog-dare myself into loving me. I needed a break.
I've known for awhile that loving yourself as you are is the key to making lasting change, should you want to do so. But that doesn't mean it doesn't also take work. I decided enough was enough. Enough talk. Enough poor-me blogs. Enough scary to-do lists. I needed to start walking the talk.
In the midst of work and family and all the normal life stuff I really committed to making time to care for myself again. I started tracking my food intake again with a modest deficit. I started working out regularly. Between those two things I've lost about 30 pounds since last January. But the weight loss isn't what I'm proud of (and I'm not even back to where I was when I worked at the gym). I am proud of myself for making ME a priority again. For practicing self-care in a way that respected my body. It's not been easy to stay focused on that and I've battled some injuries but overall I'm doing ok. I've made these behaviors a habit again and that makes me happy. Even so, I've been a little off course the last six weeks or so (more on that later) and there always has to be readjustment, even with habits. Self care is a work in progress and always will be.
Let's see. What else have I been up to? Well, I survived wearing a walking boot in a Minnesota winter. I've taken more voice lessons with another instructor just for fun this time. I've spent a lot of quality time with friends and family. I've worked a lot of hours. These are not dramatic events but it's what I've been up to.
I also ran into my old boss / close friend from the gym last Spring. When I finally recognized him I was about to say hi and then he gave me a look. A look with more hatred than I've ever seen anyone give me before. Then he turned and walked away. This stayed with me for a few days, mostly because I don't think I can ever remember being on the receiving end of that much hatred before. And I still don't know where it's coming from or what I did. But I sat with it, processed it and realized it's not for me to understand. It's not about me and I won't carry it with me anymore. I forgive many people for the things that happened back then and I hope they can forgive me for whatever ways they feel I've wronged them. But I've moved on. I wish him peace. Look at me, I'm growing!
I also survived yet another reminder that family, the ones that are supposed to love you, won't always love you unconditionally. I felt hurt and angry for a few days and then I let it go. Their loss.
This summer I celebrated my 20th wedding anniversary by taking a trip to Mexico with my husband, sans children. It was relaxing and romantic and everything we needed, despite trying to fight off a little cold while there. And, to make it extra interesting, I brought only bikinis. Me. Bikinis. What? At first I thought I may try to make a challenge out of it - a blog post - and then I changed my mind. I won't post any pictures here because it wasn't about that. I can tell you what happened, though. Day one - I put on my bikini and walked out to the pool. That was it. It wasn't some bold feat of strength. It was a non issue. A non issue in the best way possible and exactly what I needed. I wasn't being brave because to say that would infer that I needed to be brave in the first place to show my body. I was just a woman in a swimsuit just like all the other women in their swimsuits. It felt wonderful to do it for me and not some crazy notion I committed myself to publicly. It was freeing. I can't wait for Facebook to remind me about my trip next year On That Day. I felt beautiful and loved and free.
I've been wearing leggings and skinny jeans lately, God damn it! That's gotta mean something right there!
It hasn't been all sunshine and tanlines and tight pants. There have been some rough points, too. I don't have the body image stuff figured out all the time and it sneaks in, usually when I'm actually upset about something else. Hating on my body is the path of least resistance when it comes to self-loathing. It's comfortable and I'm quite good at it. Hell, in a recent bout of pain and grief I decided to get bangs. About 2.5 seconds later I decided that every bit of sex appeal I had was now lying in a hairy pile on the floor and I was now completely unattractive. Clearly I don't have it all figured out.
What I know for sure is this - I may not always love my body. I may unfairly punish it for other feelings I'm too afraid or too weak to deal with. But through all that I still know that it's worth all the effort. I am worthy. You are, too.
I met a girl in the bathroom gym years and years ago. I had seen her come in day in and day out to work out but I had never met her. That day in the bathroom she was crying. She was crying over her weight and her frustration and her feelings of unworthiness. She was overwhelmed and was thinking of giving up on trying to lose weight. That's when I promptly stepped in, hugged her next to the sinks and said the most asshole-ish thing a person can say at the gym. "I lost XXX number of pounds. You can, too!" Ok, maybe not the most asshole-ish thing but if she hadn't brought up the subject I would never have been that person to approach someone bragging about weight loss. Lucky for me she still talked to me the next time she saw me.
We were brought back together again after I became a trainer and she had a horrible experience with another trainer that left her very disenchanted. A friend brought it to my attention and I stepped in to fix it. What I didn't know On That Day was that she would start attending all my classes faithfully and eventually become one of my closest friends. She was part of my inner circle and integral in my recovery from leaving my job there. Jenn was irreplaceable. Facebook just reminded me a few weeks ago On This Day that we had been Facebook friends for 5 years. It feels like I've known her my whole life.
In recent months she really struggled again with her own worthiness for different reasons. I know this because she would text those exact words to me. "I'm struggling to feel worthy." She knew I would get it but I was at a loss on how to help her. I don't even have my own shit together most days. Plus stuff gets in the way like life, family, people you probably shouldn't be devoting your time to, work, etc. I thought I had time. I thought we both had time to work it out and have a big hug and a laugh when we realized how crazy we were.
Seven weeks ago today Jenn died unexpectedly from an undiagnosed medical condition. The night before I was texting her. The next morning she was gone. She was just fucking gone.
"Oh My! I might actually make it to cycle class tonight. Seeing you twice in one week might be too much for me to handle." Jenn wrote this on my Facebook wall On This Day five years ago. Thanks, Facebook, for making me cry almost daily for 7 weeks.
On This Day I miss my friend terribly. On This Day I feel a different kind of loss than I've ever felt before - the loss of a family member of my choosing. On This Day I am also profoundly grateful to have had a friendship that leaves me devastated in its absence. What a blessing to care so much that a hole is left when she is gone. Because I've had plenty of relationships that were less than and I spent far too much time and energy trying to keep them and make them care for me, sometimes at the expense of the ones that really mattered. I have learned such a profound lesson in this pain that she has taught me.
I may not have spent the last seventeen months mastering all of this body confidence stuff but I have spent the last seven weeks thinking about what matters. What matters to me is that I live a life that leaves others devastated when I leave this Earth. And I hope that I can leave this Earth knowing my own worth. I'm heartbroken at the prospect that Jenn may not have fully understood her own worth or what she meant to people. Those that she left behind know. We know.
A week before Jenn passed away she emailed me a song that she thought could help another friend of mine. I actually didn't get around to listening to it until the day we lost her. She gave me exactly what I needed to hear that day.
She was right. I can handle this pain for awhile. But I will miss her forever.
I'm not sure what will become of this blog. I have no idea how much I'll still write. I'm not feeling the need to be brave in order to earn my own self love. I'm just trying to live and make the most of the time I have because it all seems so finite now. I guess I'll just write when I feel something and when I have time. If you are still here with me I thank you. Deeply.