body acceptance :: the miracle of jeans and yoga pants

I wrote a post a while ago, about being real. As each year (each day, really) passes, we have the chance to grow more real- more of who we are, more healing and overcoming, transforming pain into wisdom.

So, here is being real.

One year ago yesterday, I started medication for low-functioning thyroid. In that year, my blood sugars have improved and my joint pain has gone away, but I have also gained 12 lbs and lost 3/4 of my hair.

This year has been nothing but a journey, from doctor to doctor and research paper to research paper, to try and feel healthy again. I am on about 15 supplements right now, just hoping they will help my hair grow back or maybe lose a couple of pounds.

I wanted 40 to be more awesome than this.

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There have been some really tough times in this year-long journey. Conversations in my head, wondering ‘at what point would I not want to live in this body anymore?’ Would it be 250 pounds? Would it be inflammation-induced cancer? What would bring me to consider taking my own life? Some days I was closer to it than others.

I’ve also had some really tough conversations. I asked my husband, ‘You didn’t sign up to be with a bald, angry, overweight woman. What will become of us if I keep gaining weight and losing hair?’

The question I was really asking, though, was ‘what will you reflect back to me about love and acceptance if I cannot accept myself?’

That was hard to see- my lack of compassion for myself.

[He, smart guy, was honest. He said, ‘No, I didn’t sign up for that. But I love you. And right now I want to stay with you. And if you do end up being overweight, bald, and cranky, we’ll talk about it. But maybe you could also call your therapist.’]

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Being in this body, with the extra weight has been really uncomfortable for me.

The discomfort is not about societal standards – I have had years of those conversations with myself. Asking for who exactly did I want to color my hair, or lose a couple of pounds, or wear make-up? I got over a lot of that (probably not all, but a good portion). My body was mine and I could do as I pleased, to please myself.

But with this weight gain, my feet hurt more and my hips hurt more (I’m not sure why the hips) and I lose feeling in my legs and arms sometimes since the weight gain. It’s awesome. [Not really.]

For thirty-four years, since being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, I have learned to watch and control my body very rigorously. And this thyroid issue has been almost entirely out of my control. It did not respond well to meds, the hair fell out, the other meds made me gain *more* weight, I could not find treatments I wanted to try, nor a physician to help me explore the issue.

I was more stressed out than ever before, and it wasn’t helping.
I felt days of despair.

 

colorless photo of a woman in jeans in a thicket of cherry blossoms

 

Gradually, so very slowly, I have started to come around. I can see and feel that the stress of this is hurting me mentally and physically. I need to pull back so I don’t get more in my own way, so I don’t make things even worse for myself.

Last weekend, I decided to accept where I was and….go jeans shopping.

Jeans shopping is the greatest act of self-acceptance a woman can perform. There is no getting around the fact that the size 8s don’t fit anymore. If I want to dress well, and feel comfortable, I have to let go of my expectations, desires, and control- and buy the jeans that fit.

This was really hard.
I cried in the fitting room for the first two pairs.

But the third pair was sort of magic. I looked cute in them.
I felt good in them.
What a joy it was to feel good in them.

I found four more pairs.

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Monday this past week, I was back to despairing. Super stressful despairing.

I spent 4 hours at a beautiful beach thinking about the way my clothes fit and moved and how awful I felt. I took no notice or enjoyment of the beach.

I got to a place where my brain actually hurt. Where I felt great despair and frustration and anger. If you’d have been near me, I would have been insufferable.

Later in the afternoon, I came out of the despair fog and I thought, “I don’t ever want to go back there again.”

And that was sort of that.

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Tuesday I started to remember and be grateful for all I do have. The weight sits okay on my frame. There is still plenty of hair on my head- and it looks fine. I refused to stress about the thyroid implications anymore. I was doing my best, and that’s all I could do.

I also saw my diabetes doctor that day, and she – ever so politely – basically said, STFU. She reminded me that my perspective was subjective – others had it way worse than I did. And I should be grateful for what I did have. She was right.

Later Tuesday I also had to buy some cycling shorts and decided to try on some yoga pants.

I don’t own yoga pants. I don’t particularly like them. I don’t know what possessed me to try them on. But I did.

And as I did, I had to make peace with moving from the S-M size to the M-L size. Funny thing was, some of the M fit just fine and some of the L fit like I was a stuffed sausage. I realized it didn’t really fucking matter.

This body, with its extra pounds and fewer hairs is just fine. It’s pretty healthy. It does what I need it to do. It can still jump, run, bike, orgasm, laugh, cry, sleep, and meditate. What more do I really need?

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This year has been so much about owning my life. Accepting what is good about me, what is bad, all that I have come through and failed and accomplished. And now I need to accept my body, too. Right here, right now, as is. It’s a good body. And I am grateful to have it.

 

 

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