For most of my life, I was thin.
I took it for granted.
For a relatively small stretch of time (comparatively), I was getting proper exercise. I’ve had periods of my life where I went overboard with exercise (sometimes a full workout two or three times a day), and I’ve had times where I did nothing.
Growing up, exercise and positive eating habits weren’t illustrated. I’m not trying to blame anyone for anything, rather I didn’t have an example of what to do or how to proceed. I was fortunate that my metabolism was always active enough that I could eat anything I wanted and stay pretty much like that picture above. That was me in 2001, getting headshots done. I think, when I think of what I must look like (“must” being the operative word), I think of 2001 me. I think of getting myself on track and finally seeing hard work pay off.
But 2001 me is more than just historical me; 2001 me is unrealistic.
I go to the post office several times a week; I belong to this amazing sticker swap group and many of us are nearly hyper-active with sending stickers out. I take every swap to the post to be weighed so it can have the proper postage. I like my local post office. Well, I like the ladies at my local post office. The post office itself, I don’t enjoy, strictly from a reflective perspective.
As you come in, there is a wall to the right, and the entire wall is reflective.
I hate that wall.
When you are in line, you can see yourself in the reflection and, every time I see my full self, it makes me literally cringe.
I look worse than terrible.
When I went to the post office on Tuesday, as I was leaving, I went to open the door and I saw someone and thought, “I’ll hold the door for her.” It took me a full moment before I realized the “her” was me. It was so jarring, so colossally devastating, that I hurried to the car and locked myself in so I wouldn’t burst into tears in the parking lot.
I think terrible things about myself and my appearance. It’s likely I actually have body dysmorphia. I see myself in reflections and it doesn’t even look like me. It freaks me out. I’ve actually said out loud to my reflection, without even thinking about it, “You look like SH*T.”
The irony here is that not only would I NEVER say any of the things I say to myself to other people, I’d never even THINK them about other people. The horror is reserved exclusively for myself.
It’s bad enough that I don’t want anyone to have to look at me or interact with me in public. If I can self-checkout at the store, thank christ. If I can not have to ask anyone anything face to face, perfect. If I can go somewhere at night, I’m going to go that place at night. I hate anyone having to see me or talk to me if at all possible.
I feel like less of a person because I’m fat. The irony is thick.
And, again, I’d never think that of anyone else, it’s only how I think about me.
When I told my partner about my episode at the post office, he asked me, “Before you realized it was you, did you think that person was disgusting?” I told him of course not. And he let my words hang.
Logically, I understand what I’m seeing and feeling isn’t necessarily accurate. But it doesn’t change that I am consistently horrified by reflective surfaces or the size of my shadow or seeing my clothes in the closet. I feel like if someone has to interact with me or see me, I’m a burden just by existing.
I would love to go back to the gym; I’ve had a gym membership for years. My chronic illness makes even standard life tasks (like going to the grocery store) borderline impossible at times. I would love to exercise so much. Then I think about the last time I really made efforts to get in shape. I remember seeing myself in all the mirrors at the gym and how it made me physically sick. I’d go to the back corner of the treadmill rows and try to use one behind someone else so I couldn’t see myself.
I feel like I will never get to be healthy again and that devastates me.
I know it can happen, I know I can do it, it just may take forever and I may feel miserable the whole time. But it certainly can’t be any worse than hoping no one has to talk to me or see me or that I’m a blight on humanity just by existing.
I have to go back to the post office today.