For most people, our personal image defines and dictates us.
The way you look and feel massively comes down to confidence and how you perceive yourself. Unfortunately confidence is something I have had zero of for a long, long time – If even at all. That may come as a shock to a lot of people who know me as mouthpiece girl who is always up for a laugh, but its all too easy to put a face on for a few hours when I only see those people once every few months, and over the years I have mastered the art of not letting people know how shit things really are. I’ve had to – it was the only way I could conceal the ugly truth; I hated myself. I hated every little thing about me.
I’m finally not ashamed to admit that I have let myself down over and over again and for all the wrong reasons, but I refuse to keep my head in the sand about it any longer. I owe myself more than this.
It’s a hard thing to face up to your biggest flaws and anxieties. When you’re so self conscious and so disgusted with yourself it can literally consume you take over very aspect of your life and happiness. It’s an even bigger thing to start coming out of that mindset and see things from a different perspective after what has been a life long internal battle, and here I am, finally looking back retrospectively and thinking “what the actual fuck were you doing?!”
I spent years on and off anti depressants. There were stages of such deep depression where I would be so down and introverted that I wouldn’t leave the house for months at a time and was a seriously hard person to live with. The more I hid away and hermitised myself, the worse it became. I lived my life out on social media where no one needed to see me in the flesh and I could drip feed people whatever easy-to-swallow “look at my great life” nonsense I wanted. It was all so controllable. Being in a place where I thought so little of myself it was even harder to understand why anyone else would ever think I was worth anything, which resulted in me pushing away the people closest to me because in my head, I’d know that eventually they were just going to leave anyway. Even now that I’m finally being open and honest about it, I still have that dreaded fear that people will judge me and be thinking the very things I’ve purposely tried to hide away from them all for years.
To not have any confidence in yourself is a strange limbo type of purgatory where you end up looking in the wrong places for validation. This was a never ending bad habit of mines that I had religiously repeated from as young as I can remember. I was always so consumed about what other people thought of me based on nothing but my appearance that I would crave reassurance and comfort wherever I could get it. Its a seriously dangerous road to go down because when the compliments stop coming (and they always do) it used to send me into a deeper spiral of insecurity and turmoil than when I started. This is where I found myself at the end of 2016 after a 4 year relationship that ended after being consumed with my insecurities for at least 2 of those years. Relying so heavily on reassurance from someone else whilst refusing to acknowledge the destructive part I played in it all, and ignoring the problems that were staring me straight in the face – that I had zero self respect. Absolutely no belief in my ability to be a strong person, and a fundamental belief that I was a weak and worthless person. I believed all those things for no other reason than I was overweight. Because of my lack of confidence, I was also willing to overlook all kinds of shitty treatment just so I didn’t have to be alone – which was something I was convinced I would forever be if this failure of a human I had chosen to latch onto finally cut his losses and seen me for the weak, useless woman that I thought I was.
It took the sudden loss of my father to make me wake up and see the light. This person, this so called partner who I had revolved my entire world around with very little in return, was not there for me at the one time I needed a rock and consolidation, and it was finally the straw that broke the camels back.
It certainly wasn’t by choice at the time; I felt like my world was crumbling around me and I had no idea how I would get through it – but I did. And I did so like a fucking Queen. I found a strength inside me that I never knew I had. I finally realised that the only person that could ever give me confidence, was me. It had to come from within.
After 31 years on this planet I realised that even as young as 12 years old I had been relying on confidence coming from outside sources; friends that treated me well and boosted my ego, being the life and soul and the “funny” one on a night out to gather friends who thought I was this amazing witty person; boyfriends that said the right things at the right times and acted like I was the centre of their universe to reel me in, and in return I would revolve my entire being around them regardless of whether they actually deserved my loyalty and love or not.
How could I ever have proper standards for others to meet when I treated myself like I was in the gutter already?
When you’re in that frame of mind and someone drops you from a great height, betrays you, disrespects you, walks all over you and even lifts a hand to you, you don’t feel outraged or disgusted. You don’t see it for the crap that it is. You just feel expectant and unsurprised, and worst of all, completely accepting of this sub-standard treatment you kid yourself on to be love, because deep down inside you feel like that is exactly what you deserve. Nothing more, nothing less.
For someone who has had serious body complex issues since childhood to finally realise and admit to myself that its all been a load of nonsense was a serious ‘Eureka’ moment for me. I woke up one day between Christmas and New Year and I felt like a pair of curtains had been opened inside my head. There was a clarity that was finally visable in the cold light of day…
It’s the reason I’d spent my adult life going from one train wreck of a relationship to the next. The reason I never used to think twice about sleeping with someone even if I wasn’t that interested when I was in between relationships, whether they were available or not, just looking for any kind of relief from being alone. Its the reason I’d never dream of getting glammed up beyond wearing a pair of heeled boots with jeans for a night out and claim myself to be a bit of a tom boy, even though I absolutely love dresses without actually owning one. Its the reason most of my friends have been male because I feel extremely inferior surrounded by confident women unless I truly feel like they are on my wavelength and “get me” (it doesn’t happen often) Its the reason I would always morph in to whatever I thought a boyfriend wanted of me; showing an interest in the things he liked and his hobbies and friends whilst completely neglecting my own interests and friends. Its the reason I would settle for seriously shitty situations and treatment from the people I thought loved me the most. Its the reason I have never went for the things (and people) I truly wanted through fear of rejection; the reason I was in love with someone for more than 5 years and never told a single soul and instead ended up in a relationship with his friend because I’d never have dreamed of actually admitting to myself how I truly felt. All of those things and many, many more…
…Because I didn’t have the confidence to believe I was deserving of anything that would bring me happiness.
All because of my own perceptions of my weight and/or appearance.
How can a smart, switched on woman who works hard, provides for a daughter and on the surface seem like a well liked, popular person allow her weight and perception of herself to take over her life in such a negative, toxic way? When I think back to any part of my life when I have been depressed or unhappy, the fundamental reasons always stemmed from how I felt about my size or appearance. It would then snow ball and leak into the other aspects of my life. Relationship breakdowns, financial worries, serious insomnia, job losses and social difficulties. I would become so seriously down it was almost as if I would stop functioning as a normal human and nothing would seem easy to handle or cope with. All of this triggering because of weight gain. The most ironic thing about it is that I bring up my daughter to believe in herself 100%, to think that anything is within her grasp and that her beauty radiates from within. All the while not believing a single word of that applies to myself. The ultimate hypocrite.
Its taken a long time to realise that I’ve been barking up the wrong tree for over 20 years of my life.
After losing my Dad and splitting with my partner, I am now working on righting the wrongs I have dealt myself for my entire adult life. This woman, this internally tortured woman deserves more than I have ever allowed her to have or to be. I have decided to deal with the issues behind my chronic lack of confidence by addressing the demons that have followed me for most of my existence, instead of trying to block them out or replace them with a smaller dress size. I am losing weight, but the big difference about this stint of weight loss compared to any other past attempt I hear you ask? Well, unlike any time before, my end goal is NOT to be a size 8 model and most importantly, I no longer believe that confidence can only be achieved if I’m stick thin. I finally realise that confidence comes from the mind, not the figure. The last time I lost weight was around 5 years ago. I done so by starving myself, being addicted to slimming tablets and living off cuppa-soups and diet coke. I lost 4.5 stone in 4 months and I almost lost my life in the process. I was hospitalised with near kidney failure because of it, and also lost my job. But even now, I look back at pictures from that time with gooey eyes – admiring how great I looked rather than regretting the serious health implications that still effect me to this day. Without a single hesitation I mentally convince myself that it was a small price to pay and I’d do it all again to be that size, when really I should be looking back at those pictures and thinking
“God, I nearly died, it really wasn’t worth it”.
I want to look back and think that, and I’m determined that I will.
Maybe it is something deep within me that has me convinced that beauty is pain? Maybe it’s a subconscious over-ride of what should be my natural thoughts put there by the media, the fashion world and celebrities since I was old enough to take these things in? Who knows. I do know that I was never one to flick through magazines and dream of being in one. I also never idolised models or celebrities growing up, but maybe that was because my default mode was to automatically assume I was never good enough or ever going to be like them in the first place. We as a species will sometimes go to great lengths chasing what we think makes us happy, but it rarely occurs to us to find happiness in what we have or what we already are. That is why I’m not losing weight to validate my own self worth, but I am instead working towards being happy and healthy in myself, whilst still keeping some curves. Curves are fucking sexy, in my opinion.
Exercising and working out has also started to work wonders on my mind – which is a part of me I have never focused on healing before. I no longer take anti depressants. I go to bed at night with a clear head, with focus and with drive. I have a fire in me that I don’t think I’ve ever had before and I’m working towards being in a place where the end goal is happiness rather than slimness. I am willing to take myself out of my comfort zone to get there, and I WILL get there.
I no longer care what weight I am. It doesn’t mean anything in the grand scale. My great geandchildren aren’t going to look back at old pictures of me and think “jeez, great granny was a bit fat, wasn’t she?” My daughter won’t thank me in years to come for all the missed photo opportunities or times I didn’t join in on the fun just in case I was doing something unflattering. I just want to feel confident and happy not have to miss nights out, not have to be the one taking the photos to make sure I’m not actually in them, to not make crap excuses as to why I can’t attend weddings, or to hide away from the world anymore because I am utterly ashamed of looking in a mirror and seeing a state that no one (including myself) could ever love or be attracted to. If you are happy it shows; and equally if you’re unhappy that shows too, and it has such a negative effect on your relationships, friendships, work and pretty much everything you do.
I still have a long way to go to “un-do” my hard wired belief that attractiveness comes hand in hand with slimness, which in turn comes hand in hand with the confidence I’ve been searching for my entire life. But I guess I’m hoping that by admitting this to myself and finally being open about my true insecurities and feelings that it will set me off on the road I should have been on long before now.
I owe it to myself. But most of all, I owe it to my daughter. I don’t ever want her to be haunted by these type of insecurities and I need to practise what I preach to show her what a confident, successful woman and role model truly is.
Beauty truly does need to come from within.