The mindful moment’s prompt for June is around shame. Wicked Wednesday this week is Improve. Tell Me about is on the subject of feeling sexy. I have been scratching my head on all three, but when I discovered a photo of an old version of myself I shed a lot of tears. This led to spending some time laying some ghosts to rest. I’m including a content warning as I’ve walked a dark path writing this. The following post is a series of random thoughts around obesity, depression, growth and self-care (or lack, there of). These are my experiences, and not intended to cause upset, so please bear this in mind when deciding whether to continue reading.
The photos in my external drive are saved there automatically.
This means they are stored in chronological order, which makes it handy to search up pictures for the ongoing story that is my blog. I can search up a specific point in time with little wondering where on earth they may come in the minefield that is my computer, where they are transferred regularly, and saved into albums which are difficult to navigate on occasion. The automatic nature of the external drive means that ALL images end up there, including family photos. Not a bad thing, but sometimes it can throw up something unexpected.
While I was scrolling through, hunting for a picture that I was sure I’d taken which was relevant to my first trip to the boudoir I stumbled across an image that brought about a few days of tears. I won’t be sharing it here, I’m with both of my children in the photo and, even if I obscured their faces they are in school uniform.
I believe it was taken the day that M was sitting so I could go to the play munch at the boudoir. And once he had arrived my youngest (4 at the time) had decided that he wanted to get married to his mummy. And so he’d presented me with a Haribo ring and a bunch of flowers (made out of some blue socks). Honestly, he’ll make someone very happy one day! As we walked down the “aisle”, which was, in reality, the through-space that used to be my dining room, and stood next to the vicar (my oldest, the 9) M took a picture. All three of us smiling, laughing. It sounds lovely, right?
So, why did this picture make me so sad?
When this picture was taken I was 2 stone into my weight loss journey, and 4 months into my new medication routine. The woman in the picture looks happy, having fun with her children! I’d been running 3 times a week for a few weeks and my mental and physical health was definitely on the turn. But I was still so big. Fully clothed, swathed in fabric, I’m not sure I ever looked so large. I certainly don’t recall seeing that.
My reaction to this photograph had me worried.
While I worked through the emotions I considered whether I was ashamed of the size I had become? Yes, there was a sprinkling of this thrown in, but not shame at the size I’d become. It was a fleeting moment where I was ashamed of the lack of care I’d given myself during the time when I put on so much weight. But compassionate me is able to rationalise this, to acknowledge the reasons behind my lack of self-care through nourishing food and mindful exercise.
Laying some ghosts to rest requires a little digging first…
When I moved away from P and the bad times my mind was free to collapse. I was no longer on-guard ALL THE TIME. I sought help, but it was a slow process. The medication, the PTSD, the deep, dark depression. It was all I could do to get my children safely though each day, I was barely even a consideration at times. And that’s ok, nothing to be ashamed of. I did what was needed, and my children have continued to thrive throughout all of my internal struggles.
How can I feel anything but pride for that?
So, was it the sight of seeing such a big me? Well, no. It wasn’t that really. Yes, I was large, but since leaving P I had embraced the local fetish scene and realised that EVERY body is beautiful, regardless of shape, size, colour, gender. And, yes, this included me! I can’t thank Sir enough for starting me on this path, his unwaivering support showed me that my beauty was not only external but internal too.
It is the whole of me that is a valuable treasure, rather than (as P would have me believe) the package that he defined as such. In fact, I have a story to tell shortly where he set a task that was to help me understand just how sexy and desirable I was. That task was set just days after the offending (?) image was taken! Not once did I doubt that I had sex appeal, I wasn’t allowed! Sir has always been able to guide me on the truest course for my needs. Hindsight screams “How could other people care about you when you couldn’t do the same for yourself?!” Of course, this is nonsense. I love my friends, no matter whether they are in a good place or bad.
It is in these dark times we need our cheerleaders the most.
Perhaps it was shame at how much pride I take in the healthy body I inhabit now? Guilt at the improvements I’ve made to my health- both physical and emotional? After all, if I am as lovely now as I was back then perhaps I shouldn’t be so pleased at the visible differences? Hmmm, well, that’s not it either. I am pleased with the changes I’ve made, inside as well as out. However, I have never set much store on what I look like. Plus, any “improvements” I’ve made externally are fleeting. I’m still the same kind, caring and loving person. Honest, to a fault, but never callous. I’ll always be thoughtful in my interactions with those I come across.
I have been authentically promoting body confidence on the blog since very early on, in my own way. This is only possible as it’s genuinely how I live my life. I believe that we should all celebrate ourselves and our bodies. As I said above, we are all incredible! Is this helping me uncover why I was so upset by this photo? Yes, I promise. I’m going somewhere with this! It just took me a lot of soul searching to uncover the truth behind this swelling of emotion.
Time to start laying some ghosts to rest?
Since those first pictures I took for Sir I have become much more comfortable in front of the camera, so much so that a few years ago I started doing some modelling. And over the last few months, thanks to some modelling work, for the first time I have actually seen myself in many different lights. Seen is defined as something that has been looked at or noticed. Two words in one definition. Looked and noticed, in this context are very different!
And I don’t mean that I have looked at the pictures.
I always look before I send to Sir, or post on here. I mean I have taken notice of the woman in the photos I see of me.
As I explained in representation of beauty my body confidence comes from a place of what my body can do, rather than what my body looks like. Yes, I’m proud! I have worked hard to be a strong confident woman, who is able to be soft in her vulnerability at times. And it has taken (almost) 4 years of actually caring for myself to truly see the woman that others do.
Opening the photo from early 2018 I didn’t just look, I noticed.
I noticed the fake-it-to-make-it smile, the sallow skin, the fragile woman. When I say fragile, I don’t mean weak. Even at my lowest I was tenacious, always that person who just won’t bloody give up. No matter what gets thrown at her!
The tears then… They came from a place of celebration, in part at least. Proud tears, contemplating the journey I have taken so far. As sir said, it is wonderful to reflect and see how far I’ve come. Both emotionally and physically. My value has not changed for others, but my feelings of self-worth, self-care HAVE! I’m catching up with how my trusted people see me and that, that right there, is priceless.
So happy tears, yes! But there was a lot of sadness too.
And that is understandable. For the first time in… ever… I took the time to reflect on the life that I had been leading. The events that have brought me, not just to where I am today but to the woman I was then. I paused, took a breath, and released the pain that I hadn’t realised I was holding on to. The tears I shed were grief. I’d no idea I had been harbouring such feelings. With each cathartic tear I lit a candle in memory, laying some ghosts to rest.
- Those moment I’d spent looking into space, lost.
- Each choice I’d made that didn’t bring something positive to my world.
- Every time I’d made myself an option.
I let go of all of this.
I dare say there will be times when I come up against these emotions again. As anyone who’s experienced loss can attest to, grief is not linear. It is cyclical. Don’t be in any doubt, this is grief. I am still here, alive and kicking, the same essence of woman. But the woman I was, then. She no longer exists. Perhaps she is the caterpillar and me now is the butterfly? Perhaps I’ve spun a cocoon and the next phase will be even brighter? Who knows! That’s one of the joys of life. My life, anyway. I’ve held on through the wildest of storms and come out stronger.
For now my soul is lighter, happier.
I can be gentle with myself once more. No, not “once more”. I’ve been gentle all along, but the me that I’m being gentle with has changed. She now needs a different kind of care and attention to that which my broken self required 3.5 years ago.
So with the release of those tears, laying some ghosts to rest, I am able to move on. I have given the me of early 2018, so unloved by myself at the time, a hug and set her free through compassion. And I’ve also embraced the me of mid 2021, reminded myself that it’s ok to be happy.
To celebrate the good.
Whether that’s my headspace or the changes I’ve made for health and fitness. Patting myself on the back for looking after myself a little better doesn’t take away from the fact that I was a worthy and loved woman, even when I couldn’t consistently see it for myself. Change, in this case, doesn’t mean I’m better than I was, just different. And while being confronted by an image I don’t recall has been painful, it has also been valuable. Facing the hard times from a position of joy has shown me how far I’ve come, the changes I’ve made and the joy that I’ve embraced throughout it all.
Thank you for sticking with me through Laying ghosts to rest. If you’d like something more upbeat, try this post: A Cautionary tale to start the week.