’ve had issues with the way I look from
my earliest memories.
I started doing ballet when I was three and I was good……I was really very good. As a result my body became a tool something I used to provide joy to those who watched me perform. I spent hours in the gym and even more hours rehearsing. My body was a finally tuned instrument. My basic routine was Monday morning before school an hour of weight training and half an hour cardio, after school two hours of ballet and one hour of swimming. Tuesdays before school an hour of cardio and half an hour of strengthening exercises, after school two hours of ballet and one hour of weights, Wednesday morning before school an hour of cardio and half an hour of weights, after school three hours of ballet and an hour of swimming. Thursdays before school one hour of ballet and half an hour of weights, after school two hours of ballet and an hour of cardio. Fridays before school an hour of swimming and after school three hours of ballet and an hour of cardio. On Saturdays I did an hour of body toning and two hours of dancing.
It was crazy but I enjoyed each moment of it. My life was pretty much set. I was preparing for my final ballet exams and was auditioning for PACT ballet company. I was in a good place. I ate healthily although like any teenager I had my moments filled with hamburgers, milkshakes and waffles with syrup and ice cream. I was doing so much exercise though that my body did not store any of the unhealthy bits.
Then tragedy struck………I was experiencing a lot of pain in my coccyx area…………I was not a pain in the butt but I sure had a pain in the butt. Everything hurt walking, dancing, gym everything but I kept quiet and did not say a word cause of course it would simply disappear. However, my very observant mother picked up that all was not well and had me off to the doctor. Turned out that I had about four and a half vertebrae to many on my coccyx. A decision had to be made………..don’t operate and I can continue to dance and not have children or operate and the possibility of me being able to dance was slim to none but I would have the opportunity to have children. My folks made the decision for me and chose for me to have the operation. I was devastated……where would my validation come from, who would I be if I could not dance what would I do with the rest of my life????? I was about to find out because the damage to my coccyx was so extensive they had to remove it along with the extra vertebrae (the subject of many a joke such as my daddy baboon did not cut my tail short enough ha freaking ha).
In the blink of an eye my life changed. My back would not be able to sustain the strain and pressure put on it by dancing……………my dancing career was over!!!
To say I fell into the deepest darkest hole would be a fairly accurate description. I was not permitted to do any form of exercise for almost 18 months because of complications with the operation. I sought comfort in food. I found that eating started to give the same thrill as being on a stage did. Once again my observant mom stepped in an signed me up for drama classes. I wish I could describe the thrill of being on a stage again of hearing an audience applaud. It was my drug of choice.
My drama teacher I discovered had weight issues and soon she was on my case about my weight. It was time to face facts and break the habits I had built up over the past year. Every Monday afternoon we were lined up like cattle to the slaughter and one by one we were weighed. It was pure hell. If you weighed more than the previous week you were given such a lecture and it became really intense. So I would diet my little heart out during the week and then on a Friday AFTER drama class I would start stuffing my face. I would eat everything and anything!!!! By Sunday I had to stop so I would eat a handful of laxatives and drink herbal tea which had similar effects to the laxatives. The bathroom and I became well acquainted on those endless Sundays. But Monday’s I could weigh in and know that I would be ok because of the laxatives. It worked for awhile but eventually I was having to take more and more and more of the laxatives for them to be effective.
It was during this time that I started to really battle with my body. It seemed that no matter what I did it would not co-operate and lose weight. I stopped eating then ate too much and began this crazy love hate relationship with the image I saw in the mirror. I could not understand my body, I could not control it and more than that I could not identify with it. It felt foreign to me and this would be a feeling I would carry with me…….right up until this very moment. It was also at this time that I discovered a secret in my past. A secret that would cause so much damage that I had to keep it well hidden. What a better way to hide it under food.
I was molested by a family member. The horror of the experience had been suppressed my brain and whether that was a good thing or a bad thing I’ll never know. What I do know is that it feels surreal when you discover something so intensely personal and don’t recall any of it. Another member of my family had been abused too by the same man and she was with me on several occasions when my abuser had sought me out. She could recall every detail and it was an off handed comment that revealed this devastating reality to me. I sought help as much as I could without the rest of my family and especially my immediate family finding out. I had to go through several hypnoses sessions to put the puzzle pieces together. There are something’s which I now recall when I hear a song or am touched in a certain way but there are something’s which have remained hidden in my subconscious. Once again I am not sure if that is a good or a bad thing but it does mean that I feel an intense need to protect myself and ensure that sex is never used as a weapon against me again. That sex is never used as a demonstration of power and that I am never vulnerable EVER again. I have never confronted my abuser and perhaps I need to, I know that I have not been able to forget or to forgive what has been done to me and that…………well that’s what lies in the bottom of packet of Lays!!!
I was still doing drama and now the lights of Hollywood beckoned and I was wanting to be Ally Mcbeal. My body did not fall into the lollypop scope so I had to once again find a way to get rid of the weight. I started to binge and purge. Bulimia is an interesting disease because it brings with it such a warped sense of security. It got so bad that if I had eaten and was not near a bathroom within an hour of finishing the meal I would throw up wherever I was (too much information I know but since I’m sharing). It was like my body was on auto pilot and that I could identify with. I could not linger over coffee or stay for a bit of a chat no I had to rush to be near a bathroom. To cut a long and seriously pathetic time in my life short I got myself sorted out and stopped throwing up. I did not stop the binge eating though.
The binge eating would stay with me for several years until I found an amazing dietician who not only spoke to me about my eating habits but about my soul and who I am and who I want to be. I don’t binge eat anymore and that’s something to be proud of because it means that I am not quite so dependent on food. It was during this time however, that I was diagnosed with late on set asthma. A battle that is ongoing started on a cold day in May 2007.
Now my struggle is not with eating alone but with the side effects of a cocktail of cortisone, steroids and adrenalin. It’s a vicious cycle which leaves me battle wary and scared. Once again my body image is at an all time low and I know what the reason is….I may be 37 years old but I still have a 6 year old lurking inside of me and she is afraid so to protect her I eat and I eat and I eat. Heaven knows I have tried to overcome my “desire” for food, every diet, every eating plan, every pill and every shake. Nothing has worked which I guess is a roundabout way of saying that I have failed at living a healthy life……..my best life.
I would carry on the way I have been but here’s the thing……my body does not feel good. There seems to be a disconnect happening between my body and my soul. My soul feels ready to sour, it wants to skydive but my body is only able to take me as far as the café on the corner. It is surprising that the layers of flesh (ok fat) that I have been hiding behind for years are now in fact a hindrance. Not just an irritation, but it is actually IN MY WAY!!!! It comes as no surprise that although I have arms similar to the Terminator I could not punch out a fly, my butt as big as it is will not serve as a flotation device should I ever find myself in an emergency landing. And don’t get me started on the search for a swimming costume. These layers have even impacted me at work because I don’t want to be seen so I had. How will I even find validation in hiding????
I’ve been thinking and obviously am now writing about “where to next”. I’ve lost my way it seems and not just a bit. I’ve move around commitments and made things that should not be a priority (work, family, dinner, laundry and sleep) a priority and that does not leave any time for , as Stephen J. Covey would say, “the important, but not urgent” things. Its hard to find the time. When do I fit myself in……or more accurately when do I put myself back on the list?????
My mom has taken the past year to sort herself out and to lose 34kg (as of this morning). I can’t begin to describe the sheer agony of seeing her so thin…..and so happy. I am proud of her don’t get me wrong but for the first time in my life my other is thinner than i!!!! Shopping with her is no longer a pleasure instead I feel bruised and angry and hatful after a trip to the mall and that makes me feel guilty like a bad daughter. Is that not what I am meant do as a daughter….suck it up???? Unfortunately I think that the answer will always be a resounding “yes”.
Life is fleeting. I am not sure when or how I got to be 37 but here I am. Time has gone by so quickly and I was not paying attention. Three score and ten puts me more than half way there. I have such big dreams for my life. I want to be a wife and a mother but how can I expect anyone to love me if I can’t love myself. I want to be my best self for my children so that they don’t have to deal with a second rate mother. I wish it was as easy as building a bridge and getting over it but it’s not. I have to travel to the dark recesses of my soul, I have to cut out the damaged bits, I have biopsy them and then I have to heal. I am not a 6 year old girl anymore…..I am a 37 year old women who is able to protect herself, who is able to say no and who is able to deal with the past and then able to leave it behind.
So here’s what I know for sure………it’s time to put these issues to rest, it’s time to heal and it’s time to put myself back on the list. It’s time for the 3 “C’s”…..Choice, Chance and Change. You (meaning I) must make the choice, to take the change if you (I) want anything in life to change.
I want to be happy, I want to be healthy and I want to live my best life!!!