Hi, friends. Last week I thought I was dying. And I don’t mean the normal ‘I have the flu and I feel like death’ dying. All of the sudden while I was writing my blog I started to get this pain in my chest. It felt like I couldn’t breathe and I was having trouble swallowing. Turns out it was severe gastric reflux or GERD as some people call it. I also had severe back pain which was being impacted by the reflux. It was uncomfortable and I was sure WebMd was right, it had to be cancer. Of course, it wasn’t and I am doing much better as I sit here and write this, but it brought up a lot of feelings for me. Feelings about my body, my misunderstanding of health, and trying to find a balance of self-love and self-care.
If you are an avid reader, you know we have been here before. (Also thank you, you da real MVP.) The battle with my body is repetitive and important. Prior to my move to Alaska I was in the best shape of my life. I was running 6 miles, eating well, and felt good. Then I moved, and moving is scary, and I was told to be easy on myself, do things that make me feel good. Following my break-up, I was also told to be easy on myself, do things that make me feel good. In fact, if I look back at all the things I’ve struggled through in my life, these words are often uttered to me in some way. It is a kind message, but a message I took quite literally. Carbs make me feel good… Carbs and cheese and chips and well you get the idea. I did what everyone was telling me to do, I made myself feel good. I ate and I ate and when I would eat, even if just for the moment, I would forget how I was feeling.
After my break-up I was in a low place. I thought that there was something wrong with me, and more specifically I thought I was physically gross. I thought I deserved what happened because I was a monster, with thicc thighs and hairy skin. I thought that, that feeling would never pass and I would die alone, a monster. Trust me, I know how dramatic this sounds. I can now recognize how truly absurd I was being; thinking that the weight I was at or the growth of my hair somehow impacted the respect I deserve. This was partly baby Sarah making an appearance and it was also the years of media telling me that only the skinny girl finds love and the fat girl gets to be the sidekick on her journey. When I started dating my ex, I believe a part of me thought I had broken the mold. A fat girl found love and I couldn’t lose it because it was an anomaly that it happened in the first place.
Fast forward to New York City. Through my millions (or what felt like millions) of dates and ghosting and texts and calls, I started to realize that I wasn’t in a film where I was the side kick. I am the star, baby. Even better, I realized that I get to choose who I fall in love with and I don’t have to settle for someone because *SPOILER ALERT* fat girls fall in love too. Then, last week, when my body started to revolt against me, all those thoughts came flooding back. Not only will I not find love, but I am going to die early because I mistook binge eating for self-care. I was a failure and I deserved this, because I am a monster.
I was mad at my body and my brain for failing me. I wanted a new body and a new brain, an all too familiar thought. For a long time, I thought that self-love was about denying that part of me that doesn’t like myself. Every time a negative thought would surface, I felt like I was failing my message. It begged the question: Can I preach self-love if I, in fact, don’t love myself? The simple answer is, of course, yes. I am human, with human flesh and human faults. At the core of me, I love who I am and I think that is what is important. I strive for self-love everyday, while honoring the part of me that wants a flatter tummy, a thinner face, more toned arms, etc. That part of me is what started this blog and pushes me towards constant self-reflection.
Because I am in therapy and being much more proactive about my health (both physical and mental) these recent thoughts did not last long; I honored them and let them go. However, these thoughts really made me reflect on what messages I still cling onto and what core ideas I am finding hard to let go of? I mentioned media earlier. When I say media, I predominantly mean romcoms, because let’s be honest I am basic AF, a fact I am v. proud of. These romcoms though have become extremely problematic in my way of thinking. [And I would like to point out the multitudes of other ways romcoms are problematic, but that’s a whole other post… or research essay really]. Not only did they make me believe I wouldn’t find love, but I think I excuse a lot of behaviors in the name of love, as is seen in romcoms. I let my boundaries become irrelevant in order to please others, because the most important goal in any romcom is to find the one… *pukes in mouth* ..even if that one is completely wrong for you and treats you like trash, but he apologized and told you the 3 most basic compliments to make you forgot the horrible things he did, so like oh, well! Marriage is on the horizon, ya know?
Really, I am just trying to rewrite these automatic thoughts I get about my worth and how I attach that to the need for love from others. Life isn’t a romcom and and I am not a monster and things are never perfect. If I am being honest, I am up and down on the whole loving myself thing and I think that is healthy and normal. The thing I embrace about the self-love movement is that it centers on honoring oneself, all the parts of oneself. There is a scene in one of my favorite romcoms, ’10 Things I Hate About You’ (told you I was basic) where she is reading this poem about all the things she hates about her love interest, Heath Ledger: heartthrob, sexual awakening, RIP. BUT the poem ends with how she doesn’t even hate him at all. Honestly, it is one of the cheesiest things in a film I have ever witnessed, but her poem resonates with the way I feel about myself. Let me show you what I mean:
Me to me: I hate the way you talk to me, and the way you [wear] your hair. I hate the way you [sweat and chafe when you walk]. I hate it when you stare. I hate your big dumb [stomach], and the way you get [caught in your own mind]. I hate you so much it makes me sick; it even makes me [write]. I hate the way you’re always [comparing]. I hate it when you [over-eat]. I hate it when you make me [angry], even worse when you make me cry. I hate it when you’re not around, and the fact that you didn’t [rest]. But mostly I hate the way I don’t hate you. Not even close, not even a little bit, not even at all.
Okay, I made some small edits, and it no longer rhymes, but you can see what I mean. There are parts of me that I will struggle with throughout my life, but the good news is it will be me the whole way through and I am here for it.
*Also to circle back on the GERD diagnosis, I basically have to avoid acidic foods. Meaning it has now been 7 days since my last coffee. I am surviving, but would appreciate your #thoughtsandprays in this trying time. Honestly though, my stomach is healing just fine and the back pain has subsided. Thank female yeezy.
**Also, also dating is still going really well [as you might have guessed from my rant about the lies media has told me], thank you for asking!