The Joys of Living with PTSD

learning how to cope

Confession of a Buried Self-Loathing

I’m sick today so have spent the day sleeping, and when awake, listening to songs that inspire me to choreograph or watching videos of dance. I have always loved aerial ribbon dancing, and would love to do it myself. In order to do this, I need to strengthen my core and seriously lose the rest of the weight. Not a big deal. Right?

Wrong. After my assault I was told that it was normal to lose the desire to be found attractive. That it was a defense mechanism. I swore I would not let that happen to me and worked out like a maniac for about a year afterwards. I was not going to be fat. A year later, I decided to actually begin to feel some of the feelings I had been suppressing and they were overwhelming. I discovered I hated myself. I did not want to be seen as attractive as I did not see myself as attractive. I wanted to make me look the way I felt. I gained weight. A lot of it. The military forced me to toe the line and I was stuck in this yo-yo of hell, constantly losing weight and then gaining it back. I felt terrible about myself, and was throwing myself into row after row of destructive habits. This was only one of many.

It got worse after I got out of the military, as I no longer had to worry about regulations concerning my fitness. I gained even more weight, it was disgusting even to me. I had no willpower though, and the more I resented myself, the more I ate. When I started dancing again, I felt even more self-conscious than ever before. Those pink tights you wear in ballet are not merciful or forgiving on anyone, so if you have fat in your thighs, you’re just screwed. There’s nowhere to hide it. And the black leotards? Oh yeah, black is a slimming color, but when you wear it in a skin-tight ensemble, it can’t help you. I was forced to deal with my body image, and I hated it. I forced myself to stay there though, because the second I walked into that dance studio, I fell in love all over again. I have literally cried, sweated, and bled in that dance space, and it has become my sanctuary. I started losing weight thanks to the hours spent in that studio, and regained self-confidence, but discovered I still had a large dose of self-loathing. All of my self-blame over the assault has manifested itself in this unhealthy fascination I have in keeping myself overweight. I will not let myself get too big, because my self-disgust kicks in and I work my ass off to lose some of that extra weight, but I will not let myself lose all of the weight. It’s as though I’ve decided this is my penance for being assaulted. What the hell is wrong with me? In this respect, I’m a complete masochist, and I’m fucking brilliant. There is no one in this world who can torment me greater than I can. I want so badly to lose the rest of this weight and regain my former technical proficiency in dance, yet I seem so determined to destroy myself, inch by inch. No more.

I am publicly denouncing my self-loathing. It is not okay. I have nothing to be ashamed of, and no reason to continue to punish myself for something I had no control over. I did not ask to be assaulted. I did not ask to be made to hate myself. I’ve always said I wanted to take back everything he stole from me, and this is just one of the many things I need to reclaim in the name of me. I’m hoping that by being this brutally honest via this medium (holy shit, a bunch of strangers could be reading this!), I’ll realize on a daily basis the truth I’m telling myself now: It is not my fault I was raped. It is not my fault I feel this way. However, I can do something about it- I can reclaim myself, and I do not need a self-defense mechanism of being overweight in order to prevent a second attack. I am allowed to be beautiful. Being beautiful is not an invitation to others to harm me.

Fuck you IK. You took enough from me that night, you can not have any more of me. I am not waiting until New Year’s to make a resolution, as I’ve always thought those were silly anyhow. I am allowing myself to be free. I resolve to allow myself to be as healthy as I can be, and in that health, find an inner freedom to be beautiful. I invite any of you reading to do the same, or just encourage me when you think of it. I’m not a fool, I know this is going to be hard. It’s always hard when we tear away the destructive habits we build up around us as a defense. I have to do this. More importantly, I finally want to do this.

Lots of love to all of you in this holiday season, and may you all find happiness and peace, even if but for a moment, during this season.

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6 thoughts on “Confession of a Buried Self-Loathing

  1. You are a beautiful, AMAZING, and strong woman…I am so proud to call you a friend.

  2. I endured this same situation; punishing myself through incredible weight gain and the harassment received from my chain of command, and the administration, through the “fat boy” program while I was still in the military. It was horribly demeaning, but as you so aptly point out, at that time, it was my subconscious way of punishing myself for something which wasn’t my fault… though at that time I still believed it was.

    After gaining nearly 50 pounds over the course of many years (I punished myself slowly and painfully) and hovering between 180 and 185 for about five years, I found a magazine called “Mode” (which is sadly no longer in print). That magazine was geared towards larger women… beautiful larger women… like “Cosmopolitan” or “Glamour” for the Plus-Sized Ladies. The women and their stories within the pages of that magazine were incredibly inspirational to me. They were not only very beautiful, but confident within themselves, and truthfully, I think it was the confidence and love for themselves, the ease they had within their own bodies, which made them so radiant, though they were so lovely to begin with, but the added glow of confidence about them made them even more so.

    From that magazine, I learned how to dress properly for my larger size; what kind of clothes to wear which would highlight my curves and large breasts. (Wow, I actually had breasts and truth be told, I was kinda happy about that.) I was growing tired of hiding my body behind sweatshirts and large drapery type tops, sick of jeans that didn’t fit and were uncomfortable, etc. And though the clothes which looked best on my larger body were a bit more expensive, I had long since resigned myself to the fact that I was probably going to be a large woman for the rest of my life, because like you, no matter what I did, I couldn’t lose the weight. I just kept gaining it… or maintaining where I was. So, once I invested in nice clothing which fit properly, guess what happened! I began to feel really good about myself. I knew I looked great, even though I was much larger than my female friends, and I began to attract more friends, both male and female. No lovers… I was married at the time… but my ex-husband seemed to become attracted again and definitely became jealous of the friends I was making. (That caused more problems and we eventually divorced.)

    Then something unusual happened. My change in mood seemed to trigger a natural change within my brain chemistry; my metabolism increased and I began to lose the weight. Within two years I lost it all and was back down to 135 pounds. I lost most of it within the first year… at least 30 pounds, if not more.

    It was odd how it worked out, but to this day I’m convinced that finally accepting myself and my body as it was, all 185 pounds of it, was the turning point for me. I still struggle with other things right now… damn, how I struggle! But not with weight. Body issues are a thing of the past. Self-esteem is still a problem, but in other areas.

    I guess the point of this long comment, my dear friend, is that you are a beautiful woman just as you are. You are NOT your body. It is not what is on the outside that counts. It is what’s on the inside which matters, so celebrate your body, sweetie! Spoil yourself with beautiful and sexy threads which fit well to decorate your incredible vessel and allow your Spirit to rejoice in the beauty of the human form in which It inhabits. It is your Spirit which matters. Feed your Spirit with the beauty It deserves and decorate It in fine things. You’ll not only feel more happy, but you’ll also start feeling more alive than ever before.

    You are right. Fuck the one who harmed you! You deserve the best for yourself!

    Much love to you this holiday season, my friend! xoxo

  3. “Mode” or “More”, can’t remember, but it helped. Anyway, love you!

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