Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fattest and ugliest of us all?

“He wished he could be anywhere else and anyone else but Here and Him.” 
― James R. SilvestriHawthorn Road

When is enough actually enough? At what point do you stop and say to yourself that you are worth more than what you’re being made to feel about yourself? If you would have asked me 6 months ago, how I would describe myself, I would have replied with 3 words: Fat, ugly and stupid. Sounds dramatic, I know but this is how I was made to feel. I remember looking in the mirror and thinking 

“Why can’t you just be thin? Then he’d love you”

I know that comment may sound ridiculous to you when you read this for the first time but let me explain. This post addresses how you view yourself and how dangerous it can be if you don’t listen to your own instincts. It’s not one of my fondest memories but it is one of the things I remind myself of everyday when I look in the mirror, which, by the way, is no longer my enemy. This is what happened:

I’ve always been big. I was always one of the tallest in my school classes. When my dad died in the winter of 2000, I gained a lot of weight. I was 11 years old and ballooned from a chubby kid to a 21 stone (294lbs) beast. I used to look at food as a way out of whatever pain was coming my way. I ended up losing the weight as I grew up more but I never lost that image of myself being that big every time I looked in the mirror. I was never bullied for my size but I bullied myself. It was a constant vicious circle; Id eat to feel better, then hate myself for eating, then eat to take that pain away again. I battled for years with it, mostly because I was still grieving over the loss of my dad, along with the sudden change of environment as we had left our home and relocated to a different part of the country. I started to bloom when I was 17. The weight fell off me and I wasn’t looking at food as an escape anymore. I had the best friends I could ask for and I was high on life. That was a year before I met my ex.

When I met him, I had a little bit of a belly but nothing huge like before. It didn’t bother him, he said. I was happy for a while until the comments would start. It started out as a ‘joke’ but quickly snowballed into torture. I had told him about how I used to feel and how my confidence didn’t exist in the past due to my size.  I was now a confident, social butterfly. However, with him, I let all of my guards down and let him in. He saw the soft centred, delicate being that I was nursing behind the jokes and the laughter. That was my mistake. It was now happening every day:

“Should you be eating that?”

“Don’t eat that, you’ll gain weight.”

“When are you going to go to the gym?”

“I’m not attracted to you.”

“You’ve let yourself go.”

“I’m attracted to muscles, not you.”

“You shouldn’t wear that. It shows off your fat more.”

“You repulse me”

I listened to him and began to hate myself. I was hearing two different things. From him, I was hearing that I was repulsive but from everyone else in my life, I was told that there was nothing wrong with me. The weight is just one part of it. He would pick up on that, my hair, my facial hair, my skin, my clothes, everything. It seemed like everything I was, appearance wise, he detested and wanted to change.  It got to its worst when I was in China because then I didn’t have the backing of my friends or family to put my mind at rest.

Whilst living in China, in that god damn apartment which held nothing but negativity for me, I was stood in front of the mirror. The same mirror that I stood in front of daily, pulling my stomach up to see what it would look like if I had a flat stomach. I hated what I was looking at. I detested it. I hated the way that my belly was big, my thighs were flabby and my double chin was hanging off me like a turkey. I used to hate intimacy with him. It would always be the same routine. The lights would be off, my clothes stayed on (as much as possible) and I wouldn’t let him touch me on the stomach area. The lights were off because if I’d of taken my clothes off in front of him, I got ‘the look’, swiftly followed by the comments.

You may read this and wonder why, if I was so unhappy with my weight, why didn’t I do anything about it? I fell back into that hole of self-indulgence, comfort eating to make the pain go away. There were times that he wouldn’t let me go to the club with his friends because he didn’t want to be humiliated by my appearance. This wasn’t even a guess on my part, he flat out told me. I didn’t leave him though. As far as I was concerned, it was my fault for letting myself go. I should be ashamed of myself. It’s my fault that he didn’t want to look at me or love me anymore. I’d try to starve myself in order to lose the weight but then the midnight hunger would always get me, so I’d find myself walking around the streets, looking for a shop that was open so I could gorge on something. Anything to fill the void that I had sitting above my legs. This went on for a year. The same routine of self-torture and mental abuse from him.

Mental abuse. Wow. What a phrase! The first time someone told me that I was being mentally abused, I nearly fell off my chair and laughed in their face. It was absurd to even think that I was being abused. He wasn’t punching me after all. After more discussion, I came to the conclusion that he was not physically hurting me. He was hurting me where he knew it hurt. He knew my issues with my appearance. He knew that this was one of the ways that he could get under my skin and keep me on a leash. I realised that what I was missing in this void I had wasn’t food. It was love. I was starving. Starving for love. I took a deep breath after understanding this. I only understood this after we had broken up. After he was out of my life. I returned home and once again confronted my worst enemy; the mirror.

Looking at myself stood there, I finally saw what I had become. Overweight, old, tired, bad posture, spots, eye bags and with wrinkly clothes. This was not acceptable. Things had to change. I prodded my belly. It rippled like throwing a stone in a pond. With every ripple, I could hear his voice in my head telling me that I was repulsive. That’s when I started to change my body. I started to become more active. I started to cut out all of the processed foods I’d relied on for years and started to eat healthier, wholesome foods. When it got difficult, I took myself back to that forsaken apartment in china, in the dim lit bathroom, in front of that mirror. I remembered his voice and it made me run a bit faster, it made me focus that much more. I have been back for six months now and have lost just over 5 stone (70lbs). I have never felt more confident. I feel healthier and happier. Sometimes I do still think about what he used to say to me. It never leaves you. It is always there. This is where you need to remember what I’ve been saying from the start. UTILIZE IT!

Beauty shines from within. You can be thin with great skin and all the boys may want you, but if you don’t have the personality to go with it, in my eyes, you are the ugliest person on the planet. I am by no means saying that I am gorgeous or ‘well fit’. I am however saying that we all have different qualities that make us who we are and beautiful. (Enter Christina Aguilera song here!) 😉

Last week, I weighed myself and found out that I had hit the 5 stone mark. I looked in the mirror expecting to see myself cry. I looked at my face, slimmer, more defined, clearer skin and brighter. I had the biggest smile on my face. I walked out thinking:

“Mirror, mirror on the wall. Who’s the god-damn strongest of us all?”

Click here for the next instalment.

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