It was a regular Friday.
The oldest of my children was in school, the youngest asleep and my husband was at work.
I cherished the quiet of the house as the kettle rattled, preparing the water for my morning coffee.
I plopped down onto the chair at the kitchen table and opened Facebook. ‘On this day’ flashed up and I saw a memory on my Timeline, from two years ago. My heart sank. There on the page was me, only it wasn’t the me I see every day in the mirror – this me was blonde, and thin. I choked back tears.
Why didn’t I look like that anymore?
What was wrong with me? Greedy, fat fuck.
It was so good being thin, wasn’t it?
I became curious and suddenly anxious; opening up Google photos, I punched in ‘2014’ and there she was again. Photograph on photograph of the same blonde, thin, ‘pretty’ version of me – she was everywhere. She was smiling in that coy, camera shy way. She was batting off the camera as P put it proudly in her face. Look at her body? Her skin? She looked fucking amazing.
It didn’t take long. The mental flood gates opened as I gazed at the woman in the photographs. The me that felt so much like a stranger now, that I began to cry. The tears came and the sobbing, too. My now heavy shoulders and chest pushed me deep into the chair and I clutched at the screen, willing for that girl to come back.
It lasted around five minutes, the sobbing and wailing and then it hit me. I looked through more of the photographs and I found selfies. They were me, but not my face, just my body contorted into odd positions for mirror selfies – these I deduced were ‘progress pictures’.
Suddenly I felt sick. I remembered the fear when I’d taken them of actually sitting down and looking at them. I remembered the terror I felt that if I gained weight P wouldn’t love me anymore, nobody would love me anymore. I’d just be Siobhan again, that fat, ridiculous version that I’d worked so hard to steer away from.
I flicked through more photographs, and more, and the more I looked at the more it became apparent.. This thin, ‘pretty’, blonde girl wasn’t smiling at all. Sure, her mouth was turned up at the corners, but her soul was sad.
She was analysing each and every meal she ate and cooked. She was working out to the point of exhaustion on an empty stomach, often feeling like fainting. She slept for upwards of 15 hours some days, just to avoid food and drink. She held her breath during sex and faked orgasms just so it would be over and she could go back to being untouched. She would re-place her partners hands whenever they touched her so they’d be in a less ‘vulnerable’ place, and she wouldn’t show him her belly button – the scarred mangled mess she assumed it was, for almost three years.
She was scrutinising every part of that damn body and pulling and tugging at it with disgust at every opportunity. She was sad. She was lonely. She was fucking desperate.
Almost constantly throughout her every day the girl in the photographs would compare herself to other ‘Instagram ready’ bodies and bodies in the real world. She’d drink too much and put too much of herself on show, begging for approval and then become so mightily aggressive when men dared to touch her body or heckle at her.
She would compete with everyone for thinness, and panic whenever someone around her made positive changes for their own health. She worried furiously incase it detracted from her own power, her own worth. She’d avoid gatherings and social outings, and make minimal contact with old friends to avoid them seeing her, incase they detected a change.
She’d purge and binge in preparation for weddings and family events. She’d spend weeks prior to any gathering of people starving herself and working out excessively – running, crunching, fucking contorting her body in any way she could think of in order to make it perfect, make it worthy, make her worthy.
I wiped my eyes. I was easy 30lbs bigger now. I had two children, not one. I was married and lived in Sweden. I wasn’t that girl anymore. I wore less make up, I wore comfortable clothes without obsessing over the tag. I exercised sensibly and for the endorphins, not the calories burned. I ate carbs. I didn’t eat animal products, and I didn’t breathe in or cringe during sex anymore.. Why was I crying?
Then it hit me. I was crying for that girl with the blonde hair and sad eyes. For all the external beauty in the world she might possess would not have made her feel she was ever enough. I remembered with a sad sigh that even when she got thin enough to pass for ‘slim’ she was onto her next self improvement fad, making herself more feminine, more delicate, more worthy somehow of attention, appreciation, of success.
So I clicked close on the window and I looked at the clock. It was 4pm, my son was in the living room watching his Netflix episode of Pacman and my daughter was napping. My husband would soon be home and we would be able to sit around the table and eat food. Food I didn’t count the calories in, or vomit out of my system a few hours later. Food which I ate and didn’t leave half on the plate in a bid to make myself feel less disgusting for daring to eat a cooked meal.
My husband I owe so many thanks for throughout this whole ordeal. He has, undoubtedly, given me more to believe in than anyone ever has before. He has shown me that I am worthy of love at 100 or 200lbs. Without knowing, he has shown me that I can be vulnerable, for the first time in a long time, and allow my body to reach her set weight without the rush, without the pain and restriction, without the sickness.
Its taken a while to reach this point, it’s taken some heavy days and some better days to really recognise the important and not so important things in life. I’m physically fitter than I have been in a very long time, I’m active and happy and finally seeing the light by taking charge of my emotions.
It’s taken all of my energy not to break into pieces at the reality of being heavier, but I’m here, I’m just about through the other side and I’m so ready to help others get there, too.
Over and out,