After a baby, I can attest that a thousand changes happen to a woman. Changes to her life, her relationships, and perhaps most obvious of all; her body.
My body, I am sad to say, I have never gotten along with. For as long as I can remember she and I have been at war.
Every day I abuse her, I tug relentlessly at her displeasing physical features and I scream silently, internally, at her in the mirror. Why can’t she just be perfect? Why can’t she just be someone-f*#king-else?
She doesn’t answer, she doesn’t retort, she just carries on taking me through each day with my health intact, asking for no payment other than nourishment.. And I give it to her, and each mouthful is painful.
With every bite of food numbers whirr through my mind. Numbers like the ones on the back of packets, numbers on my scales, numbers on the scales of my friends. Torn between thoughts of starving myself and over indulging makes mealtimes a bloody battlefield, and my body sits silently with such dedicated patience, willing me to just give her the fuel she needs to perform all the tasks every day asks of me.
It’s only now, at thirty years old and after two beautiful, perfect children that I can even begin to see how much more important than a clothes size my body is. That I can appreciate how much she gives to me, despite the horrid verbal and physical abuse I give to her.
She is the one I blame when I avoid social activity, reject affection.. She is the reason that I avoid taking risks, detest being naked, and never have completely enjoyed having sex. I berate her that if those jeans looked better, I’d feel less like a failure.. That surely with a size eight shirt I’d be more successful at making new friends, at loving my partner, if she didn’t just keep demanding I f*&cking-well eat.
That being said, with the help of some extensive introspection and the love of a good man, I have began, slowly, to see beyond it. Throughout my life I have been as low as a size 10 and as high as a size 22 and I can genuinely say that neither side of the spectrum filled me with any more joy than the other.
Was it physically easier being a size ten? Yes. Was I mentally more settled? Absolutely not. The thinner I was, the thinner I needed to be, the more I panicked that if I regained any weight I’d lose the value I’d suddenly attained being one of the ‘thin elite’.
Being part of the thin realm of society meant girls were nicer to me, more men definitely wanted to have sex with me and every clothes store had my size.. Everyone complimented me as the scales went down right until suddenly around size 10, the barrage of positivity towards my body just stopped. It can only be likened to taking away a dummy from a set of toddler twins watching my self esteem and worth cry and wail, begging for it back.
At home I obsessed. I wasn’t pretty enough now. I wasnt daintily featured and I was definitely still too fat. I went on crash fad diets, one after another. Less carbs, more protein. Liquid only. Yogurt and milk only. Vegan. Atkins. Cambridge. I tortured my body with them all.
Not only did I torture my body, I tortured my family and my friends. At every waking breath I’d ask them “Do you think I’ve gained weight?”, “Do I look fatter to you?”, “I can’t eat that, I’m on a diet”, “I can’t eat that, it’s fattening”. It not only exhausted them, but I was always terrified of the response.. What if one of them said “yes, you’ve gained weight”.. I knew I couldn’t handle it, but I still asked, debilitating silence gripped me waiting for the answer. I needed to hear that I was thin, that I still had worth.
Then I got pregnant, and I was in shock and terrified as my body was about to change and I wasn’t ready. I was thin, and despite not being thin enough – I was not ready to leave my exclusive “normal sized” privileges behind. I was not ready to endure my clothes not fitting me, my sexuality being diminished or my body altering beyond recognition.. But it was coming, and I was not prepared.
Pregnancy hit me like a tonne of bricks, I went from extreme nausea (not helped by semi starvation from fear as my jeans tightened and I lost control) to complete binge-fests, shovelling food in to my body. I was taking advantage while it was socially acceptable to be larger, while my body was rounded it was not wobbly.
I survived pregnancy with barely any gain through daily mental torture I inflicted on myself, monitoring my intake and having an overbearing mother in law for company. When Eryn was born my total gain, post labour, was 8lbs. 8lbs.
Fast-forward two months, Eryn is 11 weeks old today and I am 20lbs up. I gained twelve pounds, my jeans no longer fasten and my body has changed beyond recognition. Between being in a new country , relentlessly being fed on by Eryn, and moving homes three times the weight had crept on, but I am not sad about it.
This additional weight, needing to (for the first time in four years) going up two sizes in jeans, has forced me to entertain a brand new mindset. To stop the overtly obsessive concern about what others think and believe regarding my body and its worth, to trust in my husband when he calls me beautiful and to finally appreciate my body for all the amazing things she does both at twelve and twenty stones.
My body, my lovely body.. She gets me out of bed in the morning, she’s the one who gives me the energy to provide care for my two wonderful children – the very same children who she created with love, care and such finesse.
My body gives me the strength and stamina to last those long, long days that so often arise when you’re a mother of two. She gives me the impossible to truly comprehend tools to feed my youngest child exclusively, protecting and nourishing her in one dose, so long as I provide the fuel she needs.
My body lets me enjoy my family and friends. She is the tool that allowed me to go to a prodigy concert last year, to visit Amsterdam, to fly all-over Europe. She is the body that does what I need, whenever I need it, and does not factor in my weight into the equation of whether I deserve it.
My body had always been my temple, or I thought it had, it was merely nothing more than a prison. I neglected my mind and focused on all the things I felt my body should be. All the things she should look like, instead of appreciating all the amazing things she is.
And so I enter this new day today asking my body for forgiveness.. For forgiveness that I have been so hard on her, for forgiveness I was so naive as to think she was only worth her width and weight. I’m asking her to keep on being the amazing power house she has been for the last thirty years, to keep me strong for myself and my family.
I took her shopping, I bought her new clothes in a size that fit her comfortably and look good on her. Clothes that don’t hide her size, but that cover it while being accepting and appreciative of her recent changes. We deserve to feel good, my body and I. And for the first time in years, we do. We truly do.
Over and out,