Several years ago, a relative said something to me that seemed to be the theme of my life at that time and before then and even many years after. At that time, I was enrolled in nursing school while trying to work part-time and raise my three children as a single mother with a little help from my family. It was a very stressful period of my life. Things were not easy, but I knew this was something I needed to do in order to take care of my kids. Yes, I was receiving child support at the time, but it wasn’t nearly enough money to really take care of my kids, though I was thankful to receive it.
One day I was visiting my grandmother. She asked me about school and I told her I was doing well. I had a 4.00 despite all of the responsibility I was having to shoulder virtually on my own. I was proud of myself until she responded with, “Well, that’s good. I just wish you could lose that weight.”
My face fell along with my heart. Maybe she meant well. I don’t know. What I do know is that comments like that served to shape my perception of myself. A perception that screamed, “No matter what you do in life, you are never going to be good enough because you are fat!”
I wholeheartedly believed this. How could I not when person after person honed in on my weight over and over again–relatives, strangers, lovers. I disliked myself and disliking yourself is a horrible place to be in. It leads to self-destruction. It didn’t motivate me to eat less, it motivated me to eat more to try and ease the hurt and pain of being rejected over and over again because of my appearance. While I really believe that many of these people were trying to help me, their delivery was off. Like they say, it is often not what you say, but how you say it. I actually had some people say to my face, “You sure have gotten fat.”
Recently, I came to a realization. People who don’t like themselves will not be motivated to help themselves. Self-love and self-respect are vital parts of changing one’s life for the better, and as long as those two things were lacking in my life, I would never truly be able to improve myself. That realization prompted me to change my focus from losing weight to learning to love and accept myself for who I am at any size.
I am learning to love myself more and more with each day. And lo and behold, with that increase in love, is an increased desire to be healthier. I no longer have a weight loss goal, I have a goal to eat healthier and to breathe easier. I don’t just want to be thinner, I want to be healthier because I love me enough to want better for me.
For years, I believed that I couldn’t be happy unless I was skinny. Today, I know that I must do everything in my power to be happy NOW for tomorrow is not promised. I have learned to drown out the voices of the critics. I have learned to distance myself from negativity. I accept me no matter who doesn’t and that has made all the difference in the world.
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