The Weight Of Me

Last weekend E and I attended the Navy Submarine Force’s 113th Birthday Ball. It’s basically Navy Prom – formal pictures, fancy dresses, up-do’s, crappy hotel ballroom food, The Cupid Shuffle – except drinking is encouraged and you don’t have to beg your mom to let you stay out after curfew. (You do have to get someone to watch your kids though, which is why I stayed sober and we didn’t get a hotel room.) I haven’t been to any of the formal events since I was pregnant with Evan and I haven’t been to anything prom-like since, well, actual high school prom so when E announced we were going the first thing I thought was “I have to find a dress.”

More accurately, my first thing I thought was “Dammit, now I have to try to find a dress. This is going to SUCK.”

It did suck. It sucked super hard. It sucked worse than a shop-vac. It’s one thing to know in my head that I have been losing the battle with my weight for several months now. It is entirely another to stand in front of mirror after mirror in my underwear because I couldn’t get a gown over my hips or thighs or shoulders. It sucks to not fit into the size you wore six months ago or two years ago or ten years ago. The actual prom dresses were all comically small and built for younger bodies. The women’s formal dresses were much much more than I could afford AND either too small or incredibly unflattering. I’m fat, I’m not invisible. Or maybe I mostly am. I’m definitely invisible to the people who make formal dresses.

At one expensive store a very kind sales girl asked if she could help me and I explained I was looking for a formal dress but wasn’t having any luck. She responded “I’m sure we can find one! What size are you?” and I mumbled “I don’t know anymore. SIZE HUGE.” She tried to be helpful and found me several cocktail dresses she thought MIGHT work, but after the zipper on a $160 plain black “slimming” dress got stuck half way up I just sat on the stool and cried. I cried as quietly as I could with my hand clamped over my mouth until I slipped on my sunglasses and fled the store before the sales girl could ask me how things were going. I’ve never been so embarrassed.

I’ve been unhappy with my body since I was 17, so that’s not new. But I’m not used to feeling like I don’t physically fit into my own life.

The end of 2012 was not kind to my mental health. As silly as it sounds, the combination of the Sandy Hook shootings and Caroline’s second birthday in the same week was really, really overwhelming for me. I tried to eat my feelings and hoped if I allowed myself as many “special treats” as I wanted I would somehow fill the sadness I couldn’t shake. It’s an explanation I would have rolled my eyes at a few years ago, but it’s not an excuse. I knew what I was doing. I could feel myself doing it every time I stood and stared into my fridge and yet I still made choices that I’m paying for now. I’m paying for them when I can’t get dressed in the morning because none of my clothes fit. I’m paying for them at the gym when I can’t bring myself to use the treadmill because it faces the mirrors and I can’t stand to look at my reflection for that long. I’m paying for them when I take 300 photos of my kids and family on Easter and three of me, two of which I deleted. I’m paying for them when I make wiser choices now, go to the gym, track my calories, regulate every bite, but only manage to lose .4 pounds in a month.

I am uncomfortable with myself 24 hours a day, clothed, naked, walking, driving, running, cooking, smiling, shopping, being in public, hiding in a bathroom. I think about my size more than I think about anything else. It’s exhausting. I am not naturally thin. I don’t have a fast metabolism. If I do lose weight I will have to be vigilant every day for the rest of my life to make sure I don’t gain it back. But the alternative is I can feel like THIS for the rest of my life. It feels hopeless. There is a reason so many people who lose weight become weight loss bloggers or healthy living bloggers or diet recipe bloggers or people who talk about their low fat low carb high fat high protein all vegan all bacon miracle shake miracle pill lifestyle ALL THE TIME. I feel too old, too tired and too fat to reinvent myself as one of those people.

I did eventually buy a dress, in the plus size section at Macy’s. I cut the tags out the second I got home. It looked fine. I felt uncomfortable and heavy the whole night. I don’t fit.

I’ve been hesitant to even try to write this post, since I know people’s well meaning responses will be to a) cheer me up and b) offer advice but I don’t really need. I promise I understand how weight loss works. I know in my head that being fat shouldn’t stop me from living a happy life. It’s just a state of my body, not a reflection of my worth as a person. It’s just really really hard to put a healthy mindset into action when I’ve let my brain work that way for the last 20 years.  Thanks for listening, I just needed to get it out.

p.s. By chance, my friend Miranda is starting her weight loss journey this week, so you can direct encouragement and advice to her. (Warning: her post includes numbers.)

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43 Responses to “The Weight Of Me”

  1. Suz says:

    You are beautiful! That photo you tweeted from the ball was gorgeous. Hugs & congrats to you on doing what you need to to make yourself happier.

  2. Joanna says:

    I know it’s so hard. I’ve been there. I’m still there some days. I’ve lost a lot of the weight (not nearly all of it) but I still see a fat girl in the mirror. I’m not sure when I’ll ever stop seeing her.

    I just want to give you big hugs!

    • bebehblog says:

      I’ve seen the same person in the mirror at 115 pounds and 215 pounds. So in some ways it doesn’t really matter how much I weigh.

  3. Misty says:

    I feel you. I really do. As gung-ho as I was about losing 20ish pounds last year, it’s remained the 20 pounds I lost last year. I am in this endless cycle of the scale going up 2, down 2, up 3, down 1, and I feel gross about the way I look. And, worse, I feel like nobody gets it. So thank you for writing this. I know it’s hard. My metabolism sucks, too, and my family has a history of terrible eating and obesity.

    Maybe we should start an internet chapter of Fatties Anonymous (and, yes, I know there is an actual 12-step group dedicated to this, but FA would be more for commiserating and bitching about our Lane Bryant-glitter covered asses).

  4. Megan B says:

    Ugh. I feel you. I have to go buy a formal for some events I have coming up and I’m just dreading it. I already know nothing is going to look good because I don’t look good and all of it just makes me angry and sad. I have been really “good” this week and yet I haven’t lost an ounce. I feel like this should all go a lot faster. I hate being so aware of my size all the time.

    • bebehblog says:

      I am SO AWARE of it all the time. It is the worst feeling. Good luck finding something to wear, I know you’ll look beautiful!

      • Megan B says:

        Is there any chance at all you’d show us a pic of your dress? Like, with you in it instead of some model? I feel so disheartened and would love to look at you and think “See! She looks great! Maybe I will too!”

  5. Sarah says:

    Damn it. I just typed a long comment and it disappeared onto the interweaving somewhere.

    Long story short: Weight Eatchers is the only thing that has ever worked for me. It sucks feeling fat. Also, you are *gorgeous* – and not just in a beautiful-on-the-inside way. One the outside. Where it counts. ;)

    I think Sandy Hook resonated with all of us parents in a very visceral way – maybe especially those of us who live relatively close by. ::hugs::

  6. Sarah says:

    *interweb. I hate posting from my phone!

  7. Amanda says:

    Good luck. I hear you. I’m there. It sucks. But all I can do is try. Thankfully having a wonderful husband that thinks I’m beautiful no matter what helps, even if I think he’s completely nuts. Having two little girls in the house makes it suck even more. I have to show them how to be happy with who they are, but how do I do that if I’m not? I set my new personal goal of 130lbs by my 30 birthday (Bwhaha!), I want it to happen but at the moment it seems awfully far fetched. You can do it though, you are beautiful and always so smiley. Miss Suz you rock.

  8. Audrey says:

    Huh. I feel like this when I have to clothes shop too. It’s frustrating and demoralizing. It’s not a problem I would have envisioned you having, because to my eyes you are not fat. Certainly not a size or shape I would imagine having these shopping issues (emotional and psychological quirks are size blind, I know). I am sorry that we can commiserate about this. But you should know, I too thought you were gorgeous in the photo you tweeted.

    • bebehblog says:

      I have a new and very, very deep sympathy for anyone who’s ever had trouble fitting into standard clothing sizes. Standard clothing sizes can go punch themselves in the face so I don’t have to drive to Target and do it for them.

  9. Miranda says:

    So, all I’m going to say is I love you. I think you’re beautiful. But, I know how you’re feeling. I love my life. I don’t love the body living my life. I have probably never loved my body either.

    I’m here if you ever need to vent.

  10. Leah says:

    Oh, I so know how you feel. My current weight/size is not “bad” per se but it’s not ME. I know I should not be eating chocolate covered strawberries at 10 am but the need to eat all the feels is incredible strong lately.

    I wished we lived closer so we could force, I mean encourage, each other to work out more.

  11. Christa says:

    You may not want the comments, but you’re gettin em!
    But seriously, I understand. I’ve fought with my weight all my life and I hate that I look in the mirror now and I LOOK like I’m still 6 months pregnant even though my son is almost 14 months old. I also love going shopping with my mother wgeb she makes it a point to loudly state that she is a smaller size than her daughter! Or to call out across the store that she “found something in ** size over here, it MIGHT fit you!”
    Weight issues are the worst. The worst.

  12. Brigid Keely says:

    Here’s the thing, though.

    Apparently money belonging to fat women is so incredibly gross and un-money-like that people who create and sell clothes don’t want to take it.

    When I had three weddings to go to in a 2 month period I went to several different stores including large department stores that sold plus-size clothing and actual clothing stores that cater to fat women and NONE of them had appropriate going-to-a-wedding clothing. NONE. none of them. NONNNNNNNNNE. I wound up buying two dresses that were not what I wanted at all (one was armless which I don’t do because of bra straps and armpit issues, the other shows mega cleavage which I also don’t do… I have a skin condition I don’t like revealing in both of those areas).

    I haven’t even tried looking for an easter dress this year because why bother? If retailers don’t want my money, fine. I’m not going to look for ways to cobble together an excuse to thrust money at them. I’ll figure out a way to make what I have work.

    I’m fat. I’m very fat. My mom’s fat. Her siblings are fat. Her mom was fat until she had most of her stomach surgically removed to treat ulcers, then she got really skinny but droopy. Her parents were fat. Their parents were fat. I come from hearty peasant stock, built to withstand famines and cold, icy winters. I’m round and low to the ground for better wind resistance. And I’m pretty ok with that. I try to eat as healthy as I can and move in ways that are fun and strengthen my body, and I try to dress well.

    But even though most people in the USA are big fat fatties, clothing retailers don’t want our money.

    Target is selling the same dresses they’ve been selling for the past four years in their fat section. Same thin fabric, albeit with a slightly different but still similar print. Same weird length (too long to be a shirt, too short to wear without something under it in case you bend over/a breeze springs up). Same weird flutter sleeves. Same super skinny fake leather belt. Fashion changes FAST, unless you’re fat, in which case you get the same crap you’ve been served up, in synthetic fabrics and ugly colors, and more expensive than not-fat clothing, and that’s all you get.

    I’m sorry you felt so bad in that changing room. That sucks. It’s awful that you felt that way, and it’s ridiculous that the store wasn’t able to serve you, wasn’t able to provide you with the goods you were there to spend money on. I hope that you’re able to find fun, cute clothing that suits your body and personality soon. You, like other people, deserve that. I hate that you feel so bad about your body.

    Take care of yourself.

    • bebehblog says:

      One of the hardest parts of this is my family isn’t fat. I know a lot of them are very judgmental about people’s weight and size and it kills me that if I got skinny again they would be FULL of praise, thinking they were somehow positively reinforcing “good” behavior when really it would just make me feel like crap. But I also know some of this IS genetic since my sister and I have talked about how we both struggle with losing and keeping off weight and generally trying to force our bodies into shapes they are NOT designed to be.

      I actually thought when I wrote this “I know Brigid will make me feel better”. And you did. So thank you.

      • Brigid Keely says:

        Oh, sweetheart.

        XOXOXO

        I’m pretty sure I’ve said this before, but I’m going to say it again, even if it’s boring/repetitive. If you haven’t already, look into Health At Every Size (HAES) http://www.haescommunity.org/ and Intuitive Eating http://www.intuitiveeating.org/ . I think you’ll find both resources helpful, informative, and supportive. It’s possible to have a healthy, active, fulfilling, happy life even while being fat. I hope that you reach a point where regardless of what your shape/size is, you’re stable and content emotionally.

        *fistbump*

  13. molly says:

    I don’t have any advice. Just that I think you are lovely inside and out and I’m glad to know you.

  14. raincheckmom says:

    Winter months are the worst. You stay home and want to eat ALL THE FOOD in the cupboards. It is comfy and warm and boring inside. Eating feels good! And baking is so comforting!
    What else can you do, clean? Ugh.

    As you have said before, Spring temps should bring on better opportunities to move and get out with the kids –

  15. Katrina says:

    I get it…I totally get it.

  16. Robyn says:

    I get it too. I’ve only ever liked my body in retrospect.

  17. Becca says:

    I could have written this, word for word. Big hugs, know that you are not alone and you are absolutely BEAUTIFUL, even though it’s sometimes hard to feel that way about ourselves. <3

  18. Kodi says:

    Oh girl, I am so with you. And I feel like the most frustrating fact is that I don’t WANT to care. I want to focus on more important things in life but I’m always either worried about my size or focused on eating right & exercise to the point that it consumes me. It’s exhausting.

  19. Patty L. says:

    I admire your beauty, style, and transparency. As someone who has sat out social events b/c I didn’t want to even bother finding appropriately fitting attire, I understand. Thank goodness our worth doesn’t come from our BMI rating!

  20. Alena says:

    You know I support you and I’m here for you 100000000000%.

  21. MKP says:

    *HUGS*

    No advice (except to say I had luck finding choir-formal gear by looking for long skirts and structured blouses instead of a dress), just that I loves ya.

  22. Friend, my heart hurts for you because I know how you feel. But I want to tell you something: I have always thought you were beautiful. I have never thought you were fat at any size. I honestly dont even realize your weight unless either 1) you bring it up or 2) you look like half of you disappeared (though I dont know how you do that – both halves of your is pretty important). A friend shared this video with me this week: http://www.upworthy.com/2-people-described-the-same-person-to-a-forensic-artist-and-this-is-what-happene?g=2 Remember I think you are beautiful. Not pretty. Not average or okay. But really beautiful.

  23. Joy says:

    Let me start off by saying that you right, you’re going to hear everyone tell you that your are beautiful and that you must reflect upon all that is positive in your life.

    Next I’m going to tell you that although we are all correct, this is easier said than done and the only opinion of you that truly matters is in fact your own.

    Finally, if you are unhappy, no matter what the reason(s), the best advise I can offer is to seek out like-minded people — you become who/what you surround yourself with — positive, supportive, nonjudgemental people are the antidote!

    I’m not trying to sell you anything, just giving my two cents! Best of luck with your journey and remember I’m in your corner!!

  24. Stacy says:

    Wow. This could have come straight out of my brain. I won’t even bother to tell you that I think you’re beautiful (oops, I just did! YOU ARE!) because I know how it feels to feel this way. To think about it every second, to have it consume you, even while you are consuming what is making you this way. It is how I live each and every day. I have been eating and/or drinking my feelings since about 5 PM on Monday to the point where I can’t count how many mini York Peppermint Patties I’ve consumed. Too many, that’s for damn sure. Any way, my plan is to start Weight Watchers on Monday, nothing fancy, no crazy NO CHEESE plans that don’t work, just food in smaller portions, less sugar, and full accountability to myself and my boyfriend who I’m going to force to watch me weigh in every week even though I know I’ll cry the first few times. I’m going to see my stepmother, the one who called me fat when I was 8, for the first time in 13 years this summer. I’ll still be fat, she’ll still be stick thin and 5 feet tall, but maybe I can feel a little better about myself than I do today and that’s the most I can ask for. Anyway, you’re awesome, your kids and your husband are awesome and they love you no matter what you look like, but at the end of the day the most important thing is that you like who you are and I hope for both of us that we’ll get there some day!

    • bebehblog says:

      I liked Weight Watchers when I could go to the meetings. The plan was simple to stick too and I did better with the free fruits/veggies thing than I do when I just count calories. But the counting thing is…not good for my mental health. Unfortunately I think it’s the only way to do it.

  25. barbra says:

    You know you are beautiful on the inside, right? We all think you are beautiful on the outside too, but if you can’t admit that to yourself you MUST admit that you are beautiful on the inside. So many people love you. I’m going to add one more thing that is totally not my business so feel free to ignore. You went off Zoloft back in the summer. Did you go back on when winter hit? Perhaps depression is playing a roll in this. Make an appt with your doctor. I think what you are feeling is going beyond being unhappy with your weight. The darkness and recycled inside air does funny things to our minds and bodies. I wish the best for you. You are still my favorite blogger.

    • bebehblog says:

      I didn’t go back to the Zoloft and I know that played a part in all the feelings-eating. I AM going to make an appointment, since it feels like on top of my wacky emotional state I’m dealing with really painful joints and feet and I think I might have something else going on.

  26. giov says:

    ok I never comment but here I go: first of all, no word of advice! I’m 23, I know nothing about life. but I’m the daughter of a woman who never liked her body and was very vocal about it. she was the daughter of a holocaust survivor who for obvious reason overfed her premature child, and later spent her life commenting on how fat she was. a few months ago my mom travelled from another continent to visit me, and as soon as she got out of the plane, she commented “that I was not skinny, but reasonably fit”. I hate this and yes, I totally blame society for how you are feeling and for how I am feeling and for how all of us are feeling. One thing is wanting to feel good, another thing is wanting not to feel fat. they’re different things, although we all struggle with this (it seems). whenever I’ve been at the lower end of my weight, I’ve felt prettiest, and more confident and maybe even happiest. but I always knew it wouldn’t last, I gain weight easily and so on. and how good I was feeling, did it come from within? or did I just feel like I finally fitted into society’s beauty standard? actually, one word of advice, google fatshion, luckily some women from my generation (and yours!) are doing something about this. hope it makes you a tiny bit better!

  27. Susan says:

    I could have written this post. I know what I have to do to feel better about myself but continue to do the wrong things in terms of food, exercise, etc. every time I fail I feel worse and then eat more. I refuse to buy another size bigger clothes so I have to figure it Thanks for letting me known I’m not alone in this struggle.

  28. Kristi says:

    I am not going to try to give you a pep talk. Instead I am going to tell you that I admire you courage and honesty when writing this post and that I think if I am totally honest, I feel this way too. I have never liked the way I look. From size 2 to size 8… I am just not comfortable in my skin. Not sure why but hope it helps to know that there are plenty of us who aren’t happy with ourselves.
    FWIW- you looked gorgeous!

  29. Erin says:

    Hey thanks for this post! It was really honest and exactly what I’ve been feeling. I’ve put on a lot of weight since John’s death and although in my head I know what to do to stop it, I can’t seem to actually make that happen. Then I get even more depressed that I’ve put on more in three months than it took me the last three years to loose. Sometimes I just wish they would send me back to boot camp. It was easy to loose weight when it was the ONLY THING you did all day. Oh and you were forced to exercise and no one let you eat anything. I know that sounds extreme to wish that I could just give the problem over to a drill sergeant and let them run my life and make my choices for me but sometimes it seems like its the only thing that’s ever going to work.

  30. […] to school today after being home all last week. HALLELUJAH. I honestly think part of my recent emotional breakdown was due to having zero time to myself last week. Kids are hard, […]

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