Being pregnant has given me a different perspective on a lot of things but the one place I have had the most eyeopening thoughts and experience has been body image.
In an earlier entry I talked about losing weight and how at one point in 2010 I weighted 270 pounds. I lost 70 of those pounds and began to deal with my issues with food and my body. This summer I bought clothes in a size 14, yes that is still considered “too big” by most people but for me it was incredible. A year previous to those purchases I was wearing a size 20/22. A few months after buying those clothes I became pregnant and unlike a lot of women I did not have horrible morning sickness.
Everyone kept telling me I would be so sick I’d end up losing weight, I wasn’t and I didn’t. Instead I dealt with nausea that was really only cured by me eating something. I mentioned my battle with food issues, well for me eating regularly was uncomfortable. I would go several hours (like 8 or 10) or sometimes full days between real meals. When I got pregnant and started eating regularly I gained 7 pounds. I freaked out. I mean I really freaked out, I cried, felt ugly, felt like I was right back at that 270. To a lot of people this probably seems stupid and self centered, it’s not.
Body image and eating disorders are major issues, it’s not something someone should just be told to “get over” or just stop. There are deep roots to those issues, it took me a while to face the root of my problems. When I was a kid and into my teenage years I hurt myself as a way to deal with emotional stress. I know most people just eyeroll and assume that behavior is just for attention and that anyone who does it is a spoiled brat just seeking to be the center of attention. It was never about that for me, for me it was about redirecting emotional stress into a kind of pain that was manageable.
When I was 17 I stopped hurting myself. Or so I thought. Shortly after that I began using food and not eating as a way to deal with stress. As my life became more stressful and more out of control the more I refrained from eating. It’s been a struggle, not one I like to talk about and one that often humiliates me. I don’t like admitting this is a problem for me.
I spent so long feeling hungry that when I started eating regularly I was uncomfortable, it hurt to be full. That was so shocking to me and so hard to explain to my boyfriend. I’ve working really hard to keep these issues to myself, I didn’t want anyone to know what I was struggling with.
Since becoming pregnant I’ve had to confront those issues because I have to eat, both for my own health and for the health of my baby. It hasn’t been easy to watch the number on the scale go higher. It hasn’t been easy to outgrow my clothes and feel like I’m just a fat ass.
The other reason it has become important for me to deal with these things is because if I have a daughter I don’t want her to learn these behaviors because she sees me do them. I want to be able to teach her to love herself and have my actions reflect those teachings for myself. I’m learning to accept the little things I used to hate about my body. I lost weight once and I know I can do it again, but this time it will be healthy and not driven by self hate but rather love and acceptance.