I’ve had (and still have) friends whose girlfriends are overweight. In years past, I remember meeting some of these girls and thinking things like, “Yeah, she seems nice enough, but I’m pretty sure [insert friend’s name here] can do better.”
It wasn’t until I started dating Heather that I ever had the thought, “Even if this girl were to gain weight, I’ll bet that I’d still be just as in love with her.” So it wasn’t until then that I actually had an understanding of how/why [whatever friend] was dating someone who didn’t have the “right” body type.
This morning, before she left for work, Heather was bumming out about her weight. Heather, however, is not overweight. She’s probably the most beautiful girl on the fucking planet. (Although – as I’ve just admitted – I may be somewhat biased when it comes to something like this). Still, I can relate. I feel for her.
It was January or February of 2012 and I was an inpatient at the Wellness Resource Center. Someone had accidentally smashed out the window next to my bed. Lying there, I thought about how anyone that were to walk past could see me. I remember contemplating going into the kitchen to get a knife. To slit my wrists or cut my throat or do whatever it might take to end my life. The reason: because I’d never be thin enough. I was thinking about killing myself because I was too fat.
At the time, (I’m pretty sure) I was about 150 pounds. Maybe 152 or 153. I don’t have a picture from that time, but to give you an idea of what we’re talking about, here’s a photo taken just now (at 147 pounds, which is close enough).
I’m way too familiar with the feeling of not liking myself – and when I add to that feelings of not even liking my body (my shell) – well, life starts to seem pretty unbearable. Everything starts to seem unbearable. And hopeless. And useless.
“Insecure and Overwhelmed.” March 26th, 2013. Acrylics, watercolor, marker, fabric dye, and knife. On a repurposed (framed) chalkboard. 16½x22”.
This painting was done one night when – though things were going well for me overall – I just couldn’t shake the negative thoughts in the moment. I didn’t really journal that night, but I did write one thing down. “I feel fat and I don’t wanna be me right now. No one will ever want to buy this.* My art is good for my mental and emotional health, but rarely anything that anyone would enjoy.” Which is to say that I let my discomfort about my body/size slime through to my feelings about my art and the new path I was trying to embark on. I was letting my body image issues infect and destroy everything. They’re that powerful.
I’m pretty great at spilling my guts and clearly I just fucking love to talk about myself… But the one thing that I don’t like to talk about is anything related to my body. You see: if I think I’m fat, but I acknowledge that I have body dysmorphic disorder (because mental health professionals have told me that I do), then that’s an acknowledgement that I’m not really fat. And then I’m a fat idiot in denial about how fat I am.
I’m doing much better with this stuff these days than I ever have in the past. And talking (or writing) about it as I am now, (I think) is an important part of that.
- * Footnote: Despite this piece having the words “no one will ever want to buy this” on it, it did – in fact – sell pretty quickly. Though 9×12″ prints are also available for purchase.