I’ve never thought I was good enough. Not for Ohio State, not for my friends, not for my past partners, and especially not for my family. Not always by their own doing, but my own insecurities about myself based on my experiences and the words I’ve heard aimed towards me.
My mom called me “big boned” when I asked her why I could never fit into size 6 jeans. Her answer to my lack of self confidence was “I’ll get you a personal trainer” in her most loving voice. I knew we couldn’t afford that; I never followed up. I grew up with my mom as my role model— my 5’9” skinny beautiful role model. I looked like her chubby adopted daughter. It wasn’t my moms fault that she had always been tall and skinny. What I didn’t know was that it wasn’t my fault that I wasn’t.
I came home from my freshman year of college for Christmas break. I had been verbally and online bullied by some of the girls in my dorm. I worked close to 40 hours a week at the dining hall while taking a full course load. I ate a lot. I made myself throw up a lot. I was miserable. I was putting on my shoes by the front door. My dad was sitting on the couch, and told me that “If I just exercised more, I wouldn’t be out of breath putting my shoes on.” I had just made myself throw up 10 minutes prior. I don’t think he knew how much those words hurt. I don’t think he ever will. I don’t even know if he reads these.
My point is that I’m 23 years old, still not skinny, and haunted constantly by the fear of never being good enough. Every time I see my family, I have this fear of saying or doing the wrong thing. Irrational, I’m aware, but that’s the perk of having anxiety I suppose.
I was always finding ways to fill the silence with excerpts from my life. Is what I’m saying intelligent or interesting? Who knows. Do you know what it’s like to be the only overweight grandchild? The only overweight cousin? I do. And it fucking sucks.
“Well, Em, why don’t you fix it?” Or, as my brother said to me this Easter, “You can do anything you set your mind to” when talking about my weight.
Well, it’s not that easy. You see with people like me, you know, with an eating disorder, losing weight isn’t easy. It’s a mind game of eating enough but not too little that you’re still hungry but not too much that you want to make yourself throw up. It’s a never ending cycle of dieting programs and insane restrictions that only end in a giant binge followed by two weeks of self pity. It’s not easy. It’s just not.
I hate that you’re probably reading this thinking, “Wow, she’s just throwing a giant pity party and not doing anything to change it.” You couldn’t be more wrong.
Then I realized, who fucking cares? Who cares if I’m able to fill the silence with interesting things? Who cares if I’m wearing makeup or if I look good in this dress? At the end of the day, if you don’t like it, there’s absolutely 10000% nothing I can do about it. This is me. Get used to it.
I look at my life now, this life I’ve built for myself with my own hands, and I’m happy. I look in the mirror some days and I’m happy. Sometimes, I’m not. I don’t have the answer for how to fix this— all I know is that every day is a new day to try and love yourself. Every hour is a new hour to set yourself free from your own judgement.
Let’s take it one hour at a time.