Another drawing today. Approx 6″ x 6″ (15cm x 15cm) drawn with Tombow Fudenosuke and Uniball Unipin pens.
Therapy day today
I’ve been struggling a little the past couple of days. I’m feeling quite emotional and I’m rather anxious about being out where there are people.
It’s World Mental Health Awareness Week and this year’s theme is body image. That theme is provoking some emotional upset with me.
Or maybe it’s that we started working on a situation when I was visiting somewhere and I ended up in full flight mode.
It was late lunch-time and I was really hungry. So, I went to cafe I’ve been to in the past. When I got there I couldn’t go in the door. I was convinced I was so fat that I’d not fit and if I did I’d not manage to anywhere in there.
I turned tail and dashed back to my car and drove nearly 100 miles home without stopping for a drink or food. Luckily I had a bottle of water in the car as I was really thirsty.
Since I was six years old and I broke my leg I’ve been overweight ever since. I’m the best part of 6″ tall and I’m uncertain of my dress size as I tend to buy clothes that are a bit too big for me in the belief they’d hide me. I’m probably somewhere between a UK size 18 and 22 – it depends on the style of clothes and the type of clothing.
Any ways, I was horribly bullied as a child – about my weight, about my appearance, about me being me. I was an easy target for bullies, they sniff out a victim and it matters not how old you are. I’ve been bullied throughout my adult life by people of all ages, genders and backgrounds.
These people included my mother, her father and other family members. I grew up believing I was stupid, fat, ugly and that no one loves me or would love me, that I’d never have friends and I was never as good as anyone else, just to name a few of the negative beliefs I still carry about myself, even if there is evidence to the contrary.
So, it was quite natural that I developed a lot of social anxiety and would hide myself away even as a child.
There were times when I was put on diets. My mother forced me to go to weight watchers when I was about 9 or 10 years old. Every fad diet that came along, she put me on it. I remember one which involved an inch of cucumber and one hard boiled egg three times a day. I was handed these things, told to eat them and then go up to my bedroom while everyone else had a proper meal.
It felt like a punishment not love. I was excluded, yet again, from the family, and when the diets didn’t work or I ‘cheated’ due to gnawing hunger and the need to emotionally feed myself something, I was yet again a failure, useless, good for nothing, and embarrassment.
At the same time, everyone else in the family was praised for having good appetites and eating huge meals, and I was given completely the opposite message.
I have always been an emotional eater. There was never love and affection for me, only loathing and ridicule and scapegoating and negative messages. Food would help me swallow down the emotions so I could keep a happy smile on my face, even though inside I was crying and screaming and wishing myself dead.
I grew up believing I was ugly. I grew up hating my body. I grew up unable to do anything about my emotional eating, my weight as whenever I did I felt like I was punishing myself again and again and again. I tried diet after diet after diet. About the only thing that has worked was finishing with the long ago ex! Without him my weight plummeted quite naturally and I eventually was at the thinnest I ever have been in my adult life, around a UK size 16 to 18.
I am often ashamed of myself, of being overweight that I avoid leaving my home, going out where there are people, scared of what people might think or say to me.
I’m embarrassed to eat in public when I’m by myself often. Even if I’m hungry I can find it really hard to go into a cafe that is really familiar to me. I may be brave enough to pick up something I can eat while sat in my car or driving.
The odd thing is that if I’m with a friend or my sister I can manage to go out and eat, even somewhere that’s not familiar. I find some bravery.
But when I’m by myself the story can be very different. At it’s best I’m able to venture into a new cafe in a new place and have something to eat. At it’s worst I end up in full flight mode and cut my visit short to head back to my car and then home – both safe places for me.
I rarely have ever spoken about this to anyone. In this day of ‘fat shaming’ and the hyper-judgemental face of society projected in the tabloid press, TV, the media in general and social media in particular it is very difficult to speak out,, especially seeing the way people who do speak out against the stereotypes and stigma and discrimination that abounds.
You see, there’s a story behind each person. You have no idea why they are overweight. It’s rarely as simple as eating too much and not being active enough. You have no idea what inner battles that person is having with themselves, what they believe about themselves, why they’re unable to change things because are other more painful things that are being buried by literally swallowing them down with food.
Perhaps this is why it’s so important to speak out. To try to change the tendency to make a sweeping judgement about someone and to try to see past that and try to understand that they are fighting battles you know nothing about, how hard it is to put a brave face on and step out into the world and act with confidence even though, in my case, I just want to run back to my safe home.
It tires me out everytime I go out into the world, even when I’m with people I love, as I battle to keep my smiling face, to hold back the tears and the anxiety, to do the things that so many people take for granted.
It’s only in the last week or so I’ve recognised a bit of the depth of my issues with my body and how I see myself. It’s the focus of EMDR therapy at the moment, and it’s not likely to be an easy one to do. I was shocked last week at the number of memories that have come back relating to the one episode of flight mode that cover not just recent times but right back to my early years.
My goals for this phase of EMDR are that I can view myself a bit more kindly, with some more compassion and understanding for myself. I can show other people this, always have done. However, showing the same for myself is a whole different kettle of fish.
I don’t judge other people by their appearance, but self-judgement is sometimes crippling. An internal struggle, battle that is invisible to others.
I’ve only touched the surface here of how I’m affected by this. I have a lot more to uncover and release and to change how I think and feel about myself. I think I can do enough so I think I’m good enough as a person.
Good enough. That’s my main goal. To view myself as a good enough human being and to have a good enough life full of rich experience, whether that is being able to leave my home to have a cuppa in a familiar cafe or to travel to further afield places that are new to me and to be able to leave my car and explore them.
To undo some if not most or even all of the damage to my mental and emotional health throughout my life that has led to me developing CPTSD (complex post traumatic stress disorder).