I used to think I was fat. Mind you, I was 14 when I most adamantly thought this, but still. I was a child. I thought it and felt it and wholeheartedly believed it. I shopped at Lane Bryant, and when Sinead O’Connor came on the scene with her oversized dresses, I felt I had found an appropriate style to match my believed girth.
In high school, when I was dating the dickiest dick of all the dicks, I spent the entire relationship being systematically brainwashed by him. It was your classic verbal abuse, and now, with the perspective of over 20 years, it was also the fact that he was just a total douche bag. Obviously, he did nothing for my self esteem. Well, actually he did: he crumbled it up and set it on fire, but I’ve been to therapy and come out the other side, so he can suck it.
Which leads me to my years in therapy, from my late teens into my early 20’s. I went to therapy. I got angry and talked about it. I’m pretty sure there was wailing and thrashing about. I talked about all of the reasons I wanted to swallow a bottle of pills. I burned letters from the dickiest dick of all the dicks, and in the end, I got strong. Strong enough to venture out, therapy free, and enter my life on steady (albeit, not perfect) footing.
And then I went through a stage where I was constantly surrounding myself with white light and positive affirmations, so that I stopped using the word fat at all, deeming it a “bad” word, right up there with hate. I burned sage to clear the negative energy and I read Creative Visualization, by Shakti Gaiwan, approximately 1.7 million times. I worked so hard for years to change the way I thought about my body. It took active and total conscious thought, and it took backslides into pints of Ben and Jerry’s and forgiveness the next day, but I accomplished my goal. I was able to turn those negative thoughts into acceptance, and even appreciation for my physical self. (I say physical self because, let’s face it, I don’t suffer from a fragile ego when it comes to my personality.)
And then. Years later, I had sex with my husband, on purpose, while ovulating, and BLAMMO. Babies. Then, I had sex with my husband again, on purpose, while ovulating one year after the first BLAMMO. Not to brag, but I’m the pregnant lady that got through both pregnancies without a single stretch mark. Go ahead, give it to me, I can take it. Just to make you want to scratch my eyes out even more, I have to admit that after my first baby, I got wicked skinny. I swear to GOD that breastfeeding is the best weight loss plan on the planet, and if it wasn’t creepy, I would breastfeed someone until I died. But see? It doesn’t matter anymore whether or not I got stretch marks or wicked skinny, because what I did get is basically a skin flap. A fairly large skin flap, or as my husband likes to say, Dunlap’s disease, because my stomach done lapsed over my belt.
I’ve had two C-sections, but it was the second that did me in. Things got, and stayed, squishy and malleable. But because I’d had surgery and my nerve endings were sliced, I have no feeling in my lower abdomen anymore. And it’s like, as Luca so kindly pointed out to me, having, well, a whole other boob.
“Mama? Do you have three boobs?”
I think that for all of these years with kids I believed that eventually, through no true effort of my own, my body would just return to its previous appearance. I can assure you (as if you needed me to) that this will not happen. My muffin top has started completing tasks. It knocks things off tables, it turns things on and off, it accidentally dips into whatever liquid is at stomach level. It broke a glass once. It’s basically a pesky child, all on its own. It has its own freaking agenda, and it’s a whole other thing about being a mom that I need to accept.
Years ago one of my friends had a tummy tuck and I judged the living shit out of her. There. I said it. I just didn’t get it! And now friends, I do. I get it so hard. This is it. This is my body. I can lose weight, nurse until I die, and firm things up if I want, but this is how my midsection will look forever. ForEVER. And it just occurred to me. Like, recently. Because I am really, really slow. So now, after all these years, I am back to low-self-esteem Sarah. And it sucks. Fashion has changed for me (something I greatly value), my confidence is wavering, and, truth be told, I don’t feel attractive.
But I’ve been here before, and I’ve made it through. So, back to affirmations, and white light. Back to being a dirty hippie who wears deodorant, because it’s polite. (Hey! A rhyme!) Back to believing I’m beautiful, just the way I am.
And maybe, just maybe, in the meantime, someone will create a magic pill that eradicates muffin tops for all.
Something other than tequila.