I talk a big game about being honest but there’s one big thing I’m still struggling with:
I know, “You and every other woman on the planet, Jessica.”
The thing is, I’m such a big fan of the body love movement. I encourage so many other women to love the skin they’re in, offer words of comfort and encourage self-grace to my friends, but I cannot take heed of the words I am saying for myself.
“What the heck does this have to do with honesty?”
I lie, every single day, to my family, and myself, about my body. I strut around in my underwear like there is no better sheath for my self than the skin I’m in. As though I am not hyper-aware of every bump, blemish, and lump that my 4 times postpartum body bears. Denying the existence of 20 extra pounds that have caused me to revisit some disordered eating habits.
I glory in the way other women can honestly and wholeheartedly accept their bodies, imperfections and all. I stand in awe of the ferocity with which they declare they give zero fucks about what other people think of the temple that is their flesh.
I lie to myself, claiming that I am among those who don’t care what others think about their bodies.
The truth is, I do care. The only thing that pushes me to wear what I please is this bigger, more terrible truth:
I do care what others think of my body. But what they think could never be as damning as what I think about it.
Where I offer tons upon tons of grace to my fellow women, I barrage myself with criticism. The same features I praise other women for flaunting get picked apart and burned at the stakes of my self-doubt, solely for existing on my own body. My insecurities are waging an epic war in my brain. My body is a battlefield and there are starting to be civilian casualties.
My marriage, though not yet suffering, is strained. Where a gentle caress during a long embrace with my husband was once welcomed, I tense as his hands roam over my ample waist. A session of couch canoodling is no longer a chance for reconnection but a game akin to minesweeper, where a hand innocently placed on what I deem a ‘trouble zone’ can cause the moment to explode.
It was a rare occasion for a romp in the sack to take place with no lights on or an article of clothing in sight. Now, there is a wary understanding: either the lights need to be completely off or I keep a top on. Sex is less passionate and more careful. Intimacy is delicately crafted and requires a set of prerequisites that I never thought we, as a couple, would require.
And the fault is mine. If not actively, then passively. I bear the blame for letting things slip by — thoughts, habits, activities — that a wholly healthy individual would not tolerate losing.
The first week of October was Mental Health Awareness week. But it’s not an issue that restricts itself to 1 week out of 52. When a bad day turns into a bad week to a bad month, it’s not a funk. When your daily, hourly, minutely thoughts go from normal ups and downs to consistent self-doubt and loathing, you need help, not a workout or a cleanse.
I spent too long attempting quick fixes to ‘snap out of it.’ There is no way to ‘just think positively’ about a body you loathe. It takes work to find a confidence that has been buried too many months beneath rejections exhaled with your very own breath. Sometimes, the work has to be done in tandem with a professional.
Next week I have an appointment to discuss medication. Two weeks after that I begin therapy with a counselor that has experience helping patients that have histories of disordered eating.
It’s time to stop lying to myself.
I only like my body when it cannot be seen. And it’s hard to live in hiding.