This may be the most personal post I have ever written. I write about a lot of personal things. I write about depression from within the depths of it. I write about blindness and fear. But, I don’t write about what exists within all of these things, what creeps in through any crack that appears, what has been bred for years inside the very essence of who I am. Shame.
Shame is my secret and my captor. I feel shame about so much of myself and my life, but my body is where many of these feelings seem to be focused. This body shame is so connected to me, I feel as if it is sewn into my skin. I can’t shake it off or break free from it. I haven’t written about it because I am ashamed of what I have done to my body, how I abuse it and loathe it. I am ashamed of who I have become, hyper aware of my physical self as something that needs to be hidden and hated.
I woke up this morning, dreading the feeling of being in my body. Even my pajamas have grown too small to accommodate my expanding size. I am sickened by it. I hate the fat woman whose reflection I try to avoid. I wish more than anything that I could step out of this skin, recognize who I am beyond my body, maybe even hate myself a little bit less. I know what I need to do to get healthier, make changes; so why don’t I do it?
I have thought about this for years, from emotional, intellectual and practical places. I have blamed my body shame on my family, who are obsessed with being skinny. I have blamed my compulsive eating on emptiness and grief. I have blamed it on depression, laziness and genetics. But no matter where I place the blame, I am still left with a body I am ashamed of.
Although I have always hated my body, I haven’t always been fat. I have been the opposite of fat. I have starved myself down to 80 pounds, purged the calories from my body, exercised until I passed out. I saw my body as something that was ugly and needed to be altered. I was terrified of being fat, as if it was the very worst thing a person could be, as if my value was measured entirely in the size of my body. I still feel that way, and now, I am truly fat, the fattest I have ever been. The shame consumes me.
How did this happen? How did I allow myself to get so out of control? Why can’t I stop eating, drinking, hurting myself? Why can’t I stop?
I have been in a battle with food and my body for most of my life. My relationship with food is complicated. I love it and I am ashamed to love it. I have always wanted to be one of those people who forget to eat, who don’t think about food all the time. I thought it would make me a better person. I remember being praised and rewarded for losing weight when I was younger, as if being skinny is an accomplishment. I leaned from an early age that my value as a person and my body are inextricably connected. As the size of my body has increased, my self-worth has almost completely disappeared.
Then I get angry. This is so fucked up. Value shouldn’t be measured by the size of a body. I don’t measure the value of others by their bodies, so why the hell do I do this to myself? I don’t want it to matter that I am fat……but it does.
I feel weak, shallow. I am ashamed. I get depressed. I eat. I can’t stop eating. I am so ashamed I don’t want to leave the house or see my friends. I won’t look in the mirror. I hate being naked. I feel as if I deserve to be punished. I drink to escape. I can’t stop drinking. When I drink, I eat even more. I gain weight. I hate myself. I eat. I cant’ stop eating. The weight is unbearable. The shame is unbearable.