I feel it coming on every night.
After the kids are in bed and the dishwasher is loaded, it washes over me. A heaviness. The shame I try to will away, but it just won’t disappear.
A daily reminder of all the times I failed at the goals I set that morning. You didn’t get your active minutes in today. You didn’t drink all the ounces of water you should. You’ll never lose the baby pooch eating that way.
As much as the world tells me I should just embrace my body and be happy with it for giving me four babies, these thoughts infiltrate my brain every night.
Every night these shame-ridden thoughts swirl around in my brain, and I resolve to do better the next day. However, even as I try to create an action plan for the next day, there is a voice in the back of my head doubting me, sneakily whispering, You’re going to be fat forever.
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On my really bad nights, I start searching the Internet, fantasizing about getting some sort of liposuction or other cosmetic procedure because I just can’t stand what I see in the mirror.
The hardest part is that the shame I feel about my body creates a domino effect, and I end up ashamed about feeling shame.
I have four children, and I so want to help them develop a positive body image. I want each of them to have the confidence about their body that I’ve never felt. I want them to be able to focus on their positive attributes and to feel comfortable in their own skin. But if I knew how to have a healthy self-image, I wouldn’t deal with the nightly self-loathing that I inevitably succumb to before bed.
I feel a deep shame that I can’t get this under control, not even for the sake of my kids or my own mental health. My inner voice accuses me of being a fraud when I talk about how body shape and size doesn’t matter compared to the type of person someone is. I hold that belief firmly for everyone but myself. For some reason, I hold myself to a harsh and, most likely, unattainable expectation to eat perfectly, drink half my weight in ounces of water, and exercise every day.
My body size and shape are intrinsically tied to my self-worth and I don’t know why.
And each night, I berate myself for my shortcomings.
I am so tired of feeling this way. I know I’ve lost precious moments because I’ve spiraled into a shame-fueled hatred of my body and can’t pull myself out of it. I know I’ve had days that were harder than they needed to be because I stepped on the scale that morning and didn’t like the number that popped up. I know I’ve made my husband feel helpless as his soothing words deflect off my discouraged heart that won’t let me believe they’re true.
I wish I had some sort of uplifting way to end this, but I don’t. I will probably deal with this until my brain and body get on the same page and realize I truly can feel beautiful and healthy at any size.
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But I don’t believe I am alone in having these nightly struggles, and that in itself provides a small comfort. Once the day quiets down and we are alone with our thoughts, our criticizing voices seize their opportunity to move into the limelight.
I hope that one day I can look in the mirror and be at peace with what I see.
I hope that one day I can eat and exercise in a way that is healthy for me because I honestly enjoy the way it makes me feel and not just in a desperate attempt to lose weight. I hope that one day I can be an authentic and positive role model for my children as they develop their own self-image.
And I hope that one day you will too.