What is a time of joy for many women was my darkest hour.
The thing is, I'm such a big fan of the body love movement. I encourage so many other women to love the skin they're in, offer words of comfort and encourage self-grace to my friends, but I cannot take heed of the words I'm saying for myself.
So, what the heck does this have to do with honesty?
I lie, every single day, to my family and myself, about my body. I strut around in my underwear like there's no better sheath for my self than the skin I'm in. As though I'm not hyper-aware of every bump, blemish, and lump that my four-times postpartum body bears. Denying the existence of 20 extra pounds that have caused me to revisit some disordered eating habits.
I glory in the way other women can honestly and wholeheartedly accept their bodies, imperfections and all. I stand in awe of the ferocity with which they declare they give zero f*cks about what other people think of the temple that is their flesh.
I lie to myself, claiming that I'm among those who don't care what others think about their bodies. The truth is, I do care. The only thing that pushes me to wear what I please is this bigger, more terrible truth: I do care what others think of my body. But what they think could never be as damning as what I think about it.
Where I offer tons upon tons of grace to my fellow women, I barrage myself with criticism. The same features I praise other women for flaunting get picked apart and burned at the stakes of my self-doubt, solely for existing on my own body.
My insecurities are waging an epic war in my brain. My body is a battlefield and there are starting to be civilian casualties.
My marriage, though not yet suffering, is strained. Where a gentle caress during a long embrace with my husband was once welcomed, I tense as his hands roam over my ample waist. A session of couch canoodling is no longer a chance for reconnection but a game akin to minesweeper, where a hand innocently placed on what I deem a "trouble zone" can cause the moment to explode.
It was a rare occasion for a romp in the sack to take place with no lights on or an article of clothing in sight. Now, there's a wary understanding: either the lights need to be completely off or I keep a top on.
Sex is less passionate and more careful. Intimacy is delicately crafted and requires a set of prerequisites that I never thought we, as a couple, would require. And the fault is mine. If not actively, then passively. I bear the blame for letting things slip by — thoughts, habits, activities — that a wholly healthy individual would not tolerate losing.
The first week of October is Mental Health Awareness week. But it's not an issue that restricts itself to one week out of 52. When a bad day turns into a bad week to a bad month, it's not a funk. When your daily, hourly, minutely thoughts go from normal ups and downs to consistent self-doubt and loathing, you need help, not a workout or a cleanse.
I spent too long attempting quick fixes to "snap out of it." There's no way to "just think positively" about a body you loathe. It takes work to find a confidence that has been buried too many months beneath rejections exhaled with your very own breath. Sometimes, the work has to be done in tandem with a professional.
Next week, I have an appointment to discuss medication. Two weeks after that I begin therapy with a counselor that has experience helping patients that have histories of disordered eating.
It's time to stop lying to myself. I only like my body when it cannot be seen. And it's hard to live in hiding.
The post originally appeared on yourtango.com: I Only Like My Body When It's Completely Covered Up; Jessica Cobb
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