Hello world, my name is Sara and I have issues. Lots and lots of issues. Big ones, small ones, weird ones, sad ones. Pick an issue and chances are I have it, or have had it, or I will develop it at sometime in the near future. What can I say? My life is filled with drama these days.
I am having an issue as I type this blog post. A part of me wants to curl up in a ball and sleep for a week, while a part of me wants to develop an eating disorder, another part of me wants to flip a certain finger in the direction of some people and let it go.
Do you know how it feels to be told your body is "disgusting" after having children? This is my current all consuming issue. Body shame. It is a big one to me, I dwell on those words. I get angry. I break down and cry, feeling utterly ugly and unlovable. I spend hours each week obsessing about what I ate, or what I didn't eat, how many walks I took, how my clothes fit me. Goodness, clothes are so important when you are as disgusting as I am. Trust me, no one wants to see me in my naked glory of stretch marks, saggy skin or fat.
At the age of 35 I have 2 children. My son is 4 and my daughter is 10 months old. Having these children has ruined my body according to some people. Yes, you read that right. My kids ruined my body.
Here is the thing, I did gain weight since I had children. A lot of it too. I have lost weight which just makes my skin look... saggy, stretched out, not magazine worthy at all. Places I didn't know could wiggle have more jiggle than I want to admit. My butt? Applying for statehood status. Yeah, I got booty to spare and share if anyone needs a little. I had 2 c section babies. So I have a big scar above my pubic hair line.
My ruined body.
A few weeks ago I had the nerve to go to the pool with my family. I wore a very modest tankini. I know no one wants to see me in a bikini. I wore something that would cover my body so no one had to see the mess that is my stomach. It is not flat, nor is it likely to ever be like a washboard. I tried my best to keep everything in place, constantly tugging my tankini to cover my belly and as much of anything else it could cover. I feel self conscious as it is. Being in a swimsuit is like... being in underwear that are wet ya know? I generally don't parade around in a bra and panties in front of my friends, family or neighbors, but I go to a pool to let the whole world judge me. I feel exposed. I feel like everyone is staring at me, are they? Who the heck knows, but I feel like they are. My husband hands me the baby and as I try to enjoy the moment, watching my son playing happily, looking at my beautiful daughter who is smiling and happy, the pool is new and exciting to her.
My husband wants a photo of the baby and I so I adjust to hold her at an angle that will allow him to capture both of our faces. As he is saying "Smile" I hear the laughter. I try to tell myself that people are having fun, it is a pool after all! Then I hear it again, and again. I feel eyes on me. I know I must have blushed. I look up to see 2 teenage girls laughing at me and staring. I am the object of their amusement. Me and my ruined body. I feel the breeze on a strip of my stomach where my top has worked its way up. I feel like I could cry, or leave and vow to never go swimming again, unless it is in our backyard.
That was not a good feeling. It seriously impacted the day. The rest of the day every time those girls laughed, I knew they were laughing at me, or some other Mom with a ruined, gross body. When we got home I had a good long cry. I completely wallowed in self pity. I tucked the swim suit into the back of a drawer, or maybe it went to the attic... I won't be wearing it again probably.
When I tried to talk to someone about how I felt, it only made it worse. Foolish me picked the wrong person to go to for comfort or reassurance. I guess I wanted to hear that I was not gross. That I was okay, not inducing vomiting sessions or anything. But guess what I heard instead? "If you feel gross, do something about it. You can lose 20 pounds or maybe even 30. Stop eating, start working for results...." This made me cry harder. Much much harder. Little did I know how hard the next words would hit me. "I think your body is disguising since you had kids."
So, instead of having a friend say they liked me for me, I heard I should develop an eating disorder and work out until I see results that please others.
If there has ever been a day when I could fall apart completely, a day when I felt like maybe I was so gross that I could die and spare everyone I know from the pain and ickiness of looking at me, it was that day.
I spent a long time reflecting on that. I looked in the mirror. I searched to see signs of this hideous monster that I had become. I saw a 35 year old woman that looked tired. My hair is really cute in this style of pixie short. My outfit was good. A decent skirt and a casual yet nice top. I had on great shoes, pretty nail polish.... My butt is big! I know that, but I am okay with it. The last time I checked the booty size was not a factor in what was in my heart. My butt doesn't make me a monster. My belly is a belly. I wish it were flatter, smaller. But, really how many people are subjected to the scar, the stretch marks, the evidence that my body made not one, but two miracles happen? Not very many. My upper arms are a nightmare for me, but my kids seem to think these hideous monster-ish flabby arms give great hugs.
If I couldn't see these monstrosities that are worthy pointing and laughing and hurling harsh words about my disgusting body changes why were they so evident to other people? Why did it matter to anyone else what my body looks like?
My body changed. I may have "ruined" my body according to the standards of the general masses, but when it comes down to it, my body tells a story. A story of childhood, illnesses, accidents, drunken days of youth, adventures I am glad I took. Chances I gambled on. My body tells a story of loss, of love and of miracles. I made two little people in this body. Every stretch mark, flabby patch of skin, every jiggle, every inch of my booty was well earned. I don't regret one single imperfection. They have all been worth it.
So, to the teenage girls that laugh at me in a swimsuit, or to the "friend" that thinks I am disgusting now that I am a mother, I would like to say thank you. You have reminded me that I have to work harder to make my children realize we shouldn't measure a persons worth because of their looks or lack of looks. We shouldn't let someone else tell us we are gross because we have babies. We shouldn't tolerate that type of behavior. Anyone shallow enough to look at your beautiful miraculous body and point out your flaws isn't worthy of your time or your love. Your dress size doesn't determine what kind of person you are.
To my children, I want to say, you absolutely didn't ruin my body. You made it better than it ever was before. You have softened me in all the right ways. For that, I thank you.