I like who I am. That is a good starting point.
About a decade ago, I was in a bad situation. Part of the consequence of that situation was that I lost my sense of self. I did not know who I was, what I wanted, found it difficult to form opinions and more difficult to vocalise them. I was scared and felt trapped. I was not safe, there was no respect for me at home and I had very little respect for myself. I did have enough respect for myself to leave.
A year or so after that I had found a good counsellor. One of the things I spent alot of time working on was who I was. At the time I felt defined by the bad situation but I came to understand that was just one aspect of who I was and that aspect did colour alot of other things about me at that time. That aspect is still a part of who I am but has very little impact on my day-to-day anymore. Building a concept of who I was involved several of these aspects and all of them impact to some extent. Then there are the other things about me – skills/talents/preferences. These also help define who I am. For example, I like reading, I like making things, I like cooking and am good at it; and I don’t like watching or participating in organised sport. These are tangible things about who I am that other people see and also know about me. There are also some fundamentals that define me – I am a woman, live in Australia, white anglo-saxon protestant upbringing. This is a very basic and simplified summary of the work with my counsellor on this issue.
I look at all of this and to me it works like a kaleidoscope. The aspects are like colour filters that fall in and out of view. The fundamentals and preferences/skills are like the jewels that are in the kaleidoscope. All the components are there but it shifts and changes. The aspects give their different hues depending on how dominant they are at the time. Who I am changes but is made up of the same components.
And so, I like who I am. I like having this understanding of who I am.
I am coming to realise that there is a part of me that I have never really addressed. It is an aspect that I am actively aware of, it is dominating at the moment and I want to reduce it’s influence. I have always been the fat girl. I am working on changing that. Part of me wants to keep changing it and part of me wants things to stay as they are now. Being fat has always been part of who I was. When I left school, I was bigger than I currently am now; that was 18 years ago. In the last 18 years I have only once made it close to where I am now but the bad situation that I described above happened and that was that. So, for my entire adult life, I have been fat. I have used it to avoid doing things that I did not want to do; I have hid behind it; I have used it to fade out at social occasions; I have used it to be invisible in public. I had accepted that being fat was ok.
But I know who I am and I like who I am. I am not defined by my physical size. Sure, ‘fat girl’ has been an aspect of who I am but it is not me. I am so much more. I have so many skills and I know what I like and what I don’t like. I need to start saying goodbye and letting go of ‘fat girl’. It is really hard to replace something with nothing. So, I need to start celebrating something new and help build this new aspect of who I am. How am I going to do this? I will enjoy the journey – enjoy the exercise, challenge myself with exercise. I will enjoy what I am eating and keep that interesting. I will enjoy my body, wear clothes that fit and that make me feel good. I will think about my goals of being healthy into my future. They are some big ideas and I don’t quite know how I will make it happen day to day. I will think about it. I also don’t want to be defined by the fact that I was fat… so ‘former fat girl’ doesn’t really work for me. It will be there but I want to work on the idea of ‘healthy for life’ as my new aspect.
I don’t need to be scared about this change. Sometimes it feels like it is all unknown from here. But it isn’t because I can apply the same things that have got me this far to the next stage of my journey. I know I can lose weight, I have already succeeded there. I know that I can get clothes that fit on the internet or at second hand shops that will get me through the changing sizes. I know that I can manage my food and exercise consistently. I know that I am getting better at managing my stress with strategies which don’t involve eating. I know I have the support of my family and friends. The fact that I don’t know what I will look like or feel like at a healthy weight is ok and is actually only a small part of the journey. Afterall, I like who I am.