In My Body
I am almost 46 years old. I have never felt comfortable in my body.
I remember a day when I was six years of age, my teenage male cousin had me feeling guarded. We were at my grandparent’s house and they had an above-ground pool that I thought was so fun. Even though I was six, I started to feel self-conscious and embarrassed. I was wearing a two piece bathing suit, and when I emerged from the house I promptly received a wolf whistle from an older male. It made me feel innately grotesque. Anyway, my cousin leered at me — all around the pool and backyard — until I felt that I needed to go inside.
That was the last time I swam around that cousin, and I was certainly more aware of my body after that. I wonder if the day would have gone differently if I had said something about being uncomfortable — most likely I would have been told I was imagining things.
So instead, I hid my body.
When I was nine years old I started to show that I needed a bra. I proudly ran to show my mom. I told her, “in this tee shirt I look older.” I wanted to be an adult so badly. My mother said, “Don’t rush it, you will have breasts in no time, the women in our family are all well-endowed.” I didn’t believe her then, but of course she was right.
I developed faster than most other girls did; at eleven I was a size 32D. I was harassed and assaulted because of it at school. I started hiding myself, hunching over and wearing baggy clothes to disappear into.
At fourteen, I experienced sexual trauma. I have come to accept the trauma as an experience that made me who I am — that does not mean the mental and emotional wounds have stopped festering.
At sixteen, I had breast reduction surgery with my mother’s consent (because she understood the harassment). I found it was easier to hide myself the smaller I appeared.
By the time I was considered an adult, I was seeing a counselor for my anxiety and depression.
I was investigating this, and research shows that 85 percent of U.S. women have been sexually harassed in some way by age 17. A study profiled by the BBC suggests young girls who endure this unwanted kind of sexual attention may experience mental health issues, including self-harm, suicidal thoughts, maladaptive dieting and substance use. Studies also show that those girls who do develop at an earlier age are more likely to be sexually harassed earlier as well.
I have experienced all of those circumstances, and I have carried shame with me all of my life.
A couple of months ago, I hired a health coach to try and lose the weight that I have put on. Honestly, I have not been doing very well. I have had a few really emotional a-ha moments through journaling, but as far as the weight loss — I am not losing any.
I am frustrated that I am not further along in my weight-loss journey. I realize that focusing on my thoughts and noticing my triggers are really the first steps. This weight is linked to my feelings of shame that have been with me for forty years.
It doesn’t matter what I look like, how much I weigh, or what state of glorified fitness my body is in, if I do not feel comfortable it is because I am not allowing these feelings to release.
The roller-coaster is affecting me now more than ever because of the progress I am making in other areas of my life (spiritually, romantically). After writing all of this, I feel ready to address this piece of my life and I am also scared. However, this is a cycle that I can break.
With love for myself, I invite these feelings to release. I will keep you posted on my journey.
If you are struggling with anxiety or PTSD, you are not alone. I’m with you. If you want to talk, I am here.
I’m sending you gentle hugs and lots of love. 💛