Permission

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For the last few weeks, I’ve been writing blog posts ahead of time and scheduling them to post on Mondays and Thursdays (did you notice?), but I guess I ran out of topics because I didn’t have one set to run for today. So here I am blogging at you LIVE! Well, I guess by the time you read this it won’t be live but it will be on an hour delay…or something like that.

So here’s something embarrassing: last week I cried during my session with Emily. Although I’m doing so much better with my food issues, I still have a hard time with my body image issues. Some days I don’t think about it much but then other days my shame and judgment crash over me like a huge wave and my thoughts become obsessive wondering why I let myself get like this (this being 60 pounds overweight) and how I can reverse it as quickly as possible. I was telling Emily that I am so tired of worrying about it and giving it so much mental attention and I couldn’t really put into words exactly what I wanted. I sputtered and stuttered and kept restarting my sentences and Emily said (very kindly) “Just spit it out – say it as fast as you can” and so I said “I just want to be able to give myself permission to accept my body as it is right now!” and then the floodgates opened and I cried.

We talked about where this inability to give myself permission comes from, and I think that when I lost weight several years ago I got so much positive attention about it. People gushed about great I looked and how slim I was getting and on and on, which made me think “Gosh was I really so awful before???” So now that I’ve gained all that weight plus a whole lot more back, I guess I internalized all that feedback to mean that I’m not acceptable unless I’m thin. Which logically, I know is total crap because let’s face it, I’m totally rad (and so are you…we all are, regardless of how we look), but my emotion-mind, or inner mean girl, or whatever you want to call it wants to keep me miserable because she likes to keep things stirred up. What a bitch!

Also, I think my Mean Girl was getting confused. I used to think that when I lost weight, I’d start dressing better, but since I bought several new outfits for a job interview (that didn’t pan out) I’ve discovered that I can look cute NOW and so have been shopping a lot more lately and I gotta say…my office attire is on point! I’m so professional, you can’t even handle me right now.  Also, in the past whenever I would eat better or work out regularly, it was always in the name of WEIGHT LOSS, but I’ve been doing those things lately without regard to weight loss (eating for energy and working out with my fitness group for a sense of community and belonging) and I really think my brain just didn’t know how to reconcile those things without having weight loss as the main goal. So in order to make things right (in her Mean Girl world) she decided to whisper “hey, remember a long time ago when you were in college and a size 6 and you were the pretty girl in the room? Too bad you aren’t that way now. Yeah, it’s such a shame you aren’t thin and pretty anymore, I mean just think how much better your life would be if you were tiny and cute again! If you had been thinner, you probably would have gotten that job, and if you were prettier you’d probably have more friends. Yeah, it’s just too bad you’re fat and old and your best years are far behind you now. Guess you’re just going to be this way for the rest of your life.”

Again I say, What. A. Bitch.

Emily suggested two things: 1) Talk back to Bitchy Mean Girl and 2) Distract myself when those whisperings tickle my ear.  I can talk back to BMG and tell her “Okay, I hear you but what you’re saying isn’t true, and I’m not going to listen to you right now. So go sit in the corner and be quiet.” I can also just do something else that will keep me from thinking about what BMG says like watching a funny video or reading a book or calling my BFF or any number of things that will get my mind off of it. I can always come back later and address her issues when I’m feeling stronger, but I don’t have to do it as soon as it shows up.

As far as giving myself permission to be okay with my body, I’m still trying to figure out what that looks like day-to-day. I mean, some days I can look at my body and think “well that’s not so bad” but to look at my body and think “You beautiful body, you!”…well I just don’t know how to make that happen yet.

I mean, I already have everything I need without being thin: a husband who’s crazy about me as I am, great kids, a nice home…so why the shame and guilt? What, do I think that being thin means I’ll get a better husband? Better kids? A better home? There is no such thing. So why this incessant need to look better? Being thinner isn’t going to get me anything other than a smaller pair of pants.

Could it be that easy? To just say, “I am giving myself permission to be okay with how I am right now, today”, and mean it? Not sure. Guess I’ll have to try it on and wear it around for awhile to see if it really fits.

If I were going to give myself permission, I would give myself permission to: not be ashamed whenever I look in the mirror; to give myself a break for not looking like Jennifer Aniston; to accept that it’s a biological fact that I hold my weight in my lower half (it’s not a death sentence, IT’S SCIENCE); to compliment myself on all the good things I see in the mirror; BE OKAY WITH HOW I LOOK.

It would free up so much mental space if I could just do this. I need some wide open spaces in my brain…it’s been cluttered up for far too long.

If you’re still reading this – wow! You are a faithful reader! *gives you pat on the back* Thanks for sticking with me on this one – I did a lot of thinking-while-typing here and I appreciate you hanging with me til the end. Does any of this resonate with anyone else? What do you think when you read this? I really want to know, so please leave me a comment. Okay, I’ll shut up now so you can talk. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

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12 thoughts on “Permission

  1. Mel R

    When I read this I thought…wow. You went into my brain and literally typed out my thoughts. I really wish I could love myself the way I am right now too. I’m embarrassed that I get angry and aggressive with family and friends who want to take photos of me. I actually avoid going places where that would happen and truthfully – I could lose 30-40 pounds but I am not an ogre. I’m so mentally screwed up over my weight. It completely dictates my thoughts and mood sometimes. I hate it. Thanks for making me realize I’m not alone and voicing what I’m too scared to admit.

    • Oh girl, you are SO not alone in this. I’ll bet if I asked for a show of hands of people who read this blog, 99% of them would say they’ve had these same thoughts at one time or another. We’re all in this together! (((hugs)))

  2. debby

    Believe it or not, I have more trouble with these kinds of thoughts since I lost weight. I am not at my lowest weight, and so some days the Mean Girl comes out. I’m pretty good at doing Emily’s suggestion #2.

  3. Hanka from Poland

    Today I`m going to the swimming pool with my elder daughter – I dreamt about it also because of back problems – but I can`t think about me in the swimming suite…after giving birth to the second daughter over a year ago well I`m far from being ok with my body – after reading your post i will give myself permission to enjoy my time at the pool even looking so not perfect – because as you write – being thiner will just give us smaller pants size (well also will give us less health problems and that`s my goal – loose weight to be healthier). Good day

  4. Jill, you definitely are dressing on point. You look amazing!!! Seriously, you do. But here’s the thing with weight loss and body image. You have to consciously tell the bitch in the mirror to SHUT UP. I’m serious. She will NEVER help you accomplish anything. You look great! Do you feel great? Do you want to feel better? Then look at this like a journey and start taking small steps to attain your goals. You can’t let the bitch in the mirror keep you from attaining your goals. Be your own champion! CELEBRATE your successes!

  5. I could have written so much of this myself. I lost 100 pounds a couple of years ago but never got to “goal” weight – based strictly on BMI, then regained 25 of those after not being able to run a half marathon I’d trained for six months to run. Over the last year, I’ve taken off 15 of them only to put them right back on again with emotional eating. I get so angry with myself for how much larger I am now and can’t stand looking in the mirror, but the truth is that I’ll never get this weight back off from a place of self-loathing, only through caring enough about my health to make good food choices and turn to healthy coping mechanisms instead of sugary snacks.

    Your conversation with Emily reminds me that it’s been ages since I’ve visited my therapist; clearly an appointment (or two) is in order. Thanks for sharing your journey and for inspiring me to take another look at my own.

  6. Bonnie

    I’m with you. It’s a constant struggle. This time last year I was 40 lbs down. I’ve gained back 15 (just found out my thyroid isn’t functioning). If someone talked to one of my friends the way I talk to myself I’d slap them. So why do I allow myself to talk to ME that way?

  7. Lisa

    Your blog resonates with me as well. To say it is a struggle to clear the incessant mental distractions of self-depreciating thoughts is an understatement. Exercise helps, being able to focus on what my body can do and now how it looks is a beneficial mental shift for me.

  8. Shelly

    Hi! I just started reading your blog and really enjoy what you post. I totally identify with the negative self talk. Why do we do it? We would never speak to our children that way!

  9. Good post, Jill, and good luck with giving yourself permission! Something I struggle with too. One thing stood out for me:

    “It would free up so much mental space if I could just do this.”

    I agree. I wish that society more broadly would let all of us just be people. There is so much mental space of everyone taken up by not looking good enough, and linking that to not being good enough. We inherently know there is no link, but society makes us all anxious that there is. Grr!

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