My struggle with my weight and emotional eating began when I was nine years old. I remember the day food became my best friend. It was the day my father died. There were four dozen people at my home paying their respects. I didn’t quite understand what was really going on. I had not yet grasped that my father was never going to return home again. I was a quiet kid and didn’t know how to express what I was feeling so I ate. Every time I felt I ate.
By eighth grade I was overweight, not yet obese but definitely not healthy. I was now living with my Aunt & Uncle in Miami since at this point my Mother had passed away as well from Diabetes complications. I remember being over a girlfriend’s house and we were all going swimming. Three boys and two girls. I was the heaviest person there. When I came out in my bathing suit, the boys began to laugh at me and quietly made jokes about my body amongst themselves.
I’ll never forget hearing these three boys call me a whale.
For the next decade, every time I put on a swimsuit I relived that moment. At 300 LBS, 150 LBS, 165 LBS, whatever weight I was, I was always a “whale”. I’ve grown to love being in the water and while I don’t always think about this memory unconsciously the “whale comment” became a belief within me and was now a state of being soaked in self consciousness and fear I would be judged by others.
It left an energetic imprint on me and has driven most interactions/narratives I have had with my body since then. I continued the whale conversation with myself since that day in eighth grade.
So here I am, 37 years old and at a healthy weight. I am not the smallest I have been but I’m no longer considered obese and to be quite honest happier than I have ever been. I do have some loose skin on my legs and belly from losing 140+ lbs that still frustrates me but I would rather have the skin than be where I once was. So, here I was in the South of France where everyone is going topless and once again my “whale” perception has me believing I am the biggest person in the room. I wore my bikini proudly but at moments felt like I wanted to hide and I wasn’t as pretty or sexy as the other women around me.
I was on a birthday trip with a close girlfriend and 9 of her friends. All wonderful, all accepting but in my head I was fearful I would be ridiculed for my body so rather than be carefree I sat quietly in my beach chair and compared myself to the other women. This allowed my ego mind to further confirm the old “whale” story.
One of the days we rented a boat and toured the Calenga Smiour Coves. By far the most magical and beautiful place I have ever seen. The clearest water with rocks that looked like crystals. I was on the front of a boat having a quiet moment to myself and for some reason I felt a desire to go topless just like everyone else. If this trip is about getting out of my comfort zone, experiencing other cultures and well accepting myself 100%, why not?
It was a private boat, I was with people I felt safe with including men. Trust me I was shocking myself here. Quietly I took off my top, and enjoyed the rest of the day with the crew topless. For the first time in a very long time I felt remarkably beautiful, I felt completely grounded and solid in my own skin. Not because I was topless but because I didn’t allow my body to define my choices or dictate how I was going to perceive myself. My body was good enough just like everyone else. I was choosing to accept it exactly as I am. None of the guys made any jokes or made me feel uncomfortable. More importantly, I finally stopped making jokes and making myself uncomfortable.
8th grade was finally over. I was no longer a whale. In this moment I healed my 12 year old self by sending her unconditional acceptance and love. How liberating.
My friend Jazmin came over and patted me on the shoulder. She knew from a far what a big moment of self acceptance this was. Again it wasn’t that I went topless. It was I no longer felt a need to hide my body to feel I was worthy of being accepted by others. I finally accepted my body and dared to try something new.
Have you ever felt this way? Been so committed to your own harsh judgement that you actually stop yourself from experiencing things? Why be committed to something that prevents you from ACCEPTING YOU? I invite you to send love to the place you are judging rather than hate. Love will support you healing the area so needing your love, nurturing and acceptance. Your life is waiting for you to experience it. Let nothing including yourself stop you from all the joy life wants to offer you. Please don’t forget you are perfectly imperfect and so is everyone else.
The truth is some 8th grade boys are mean and you are not a whale.
Thank you to the Fantastic 10 for making me feel so safe and honored. I am not sure you will ever know what those five days in France meant to me. It set the tone for this journey and I thank you.