“I know I’ve put on weight,” she said in a hushed and strained voice, feeling tears prickling her eyes and an unpleasant warm flush across her cheeks. The coats she’d tried on didn’t fit, having purposefully gotten a size bigger, she couldn’t help but feel stupid, like she’d been actively sabotaging herself.
She even looked up the review of the coats and each one the reviews said came up “small” but this didn’t help. The shame and sadness brewed in her chest like an unbearable tightness. She didn’t want anyone to truly see her pain, her fear and her shame, so she stuffed it down as hard as she could.
“I know I’ve put on weight,” she said, but after weeks of feeling ill and low, her husband asks to take her out. She grooms and preens, putting on a dress she loves. It fits fine, her hair looks nice and her make up making her look the most alive she’s looked in weeks. She comes down stairs and breaks her own heart in her husband’s arms, her freshly done make up streaming down her cheeks. The fear of going out, and only to the pub next door (which is more like another living room), became incredibly overwhelming. What will people think? After gentle hugs and declarations of love from her husband, she gathers herself and leaves the house. No judgement, no jeering, just big smiles as her “usual” was poured for her in the glass she likes.
“I know I’ve put on weight,” she said but the next confusion came when she tried on a dress, it looked pretty and she felt good, but in fact she could have sized down. This fact gave her some comfort in the midst of her self-loathing brain fog. But still, she felt uneasy, as she put on her make up and styled her hair into curls and rolls. She felt like a fraud. Especially as she opened the box to her favourite shoes, shoes she doesn’t really wear because …well… They’re a bit too fancy. For weeks the life and joy had been slowly sucked out of her by an illness. Nothing serious, but enough to make all motivation pack up its bags and leave. Enough to render her breathless and tired. Enough to prevent her going to the gym, from wanting to make an effort, from wanting to be seen. And enough to let the brain gremlins start picking away at what little confidence she had left.
“I know I’ve put on weight,” she said and started to fret about what people might think. What must her students and colleagues think? But knowing that stepping on the scales to confirm or deny this, could be catastrophic. Knowing also that the old mentality, the old urge to immediately want to starve, deprive or restrict was almost overwhelming.
“I know I’ve put on weight,” she said, almost as a defence mechanism. “If I get there first,” she thought, “they can’t judge me.” Who “they” are is ,in fact, a mystery. Her friends still seemed to love her. Her husband delighted in how beautiful she looked, as she stepped out in her new dress and favourite shoes. No one came up and yelled obscenities or whispered behind their hands.
“I know I’ve put on weight,” she said but she took a breath and looked at the photos of the day. The photos weren’t what she was expecting. They were full of love and joy. They were full of happiness and memories. They were festive and bright. “I know I’ve put on weight,” she said, “but I have to forgive myself, I have to accept that I have been ill, I have to accept that I am loved no matter what. And I have to accept that sometimes getting better is more important, being with my friends is more important and being kind to myself is important.”
“I know I’ve put on weight,” she said and for now, it doesn’t need to matter. Instead she will measure herself, at this moment by the love she sees in her husband’s eyes, the intimacy of his touch and the words he says. She will measure herself by the wonderful lesson she had with her students where they all ended up beaming from ear to ear and covered in plaster. She will measure herself by the kind words people have sent in response to her writing or her weird video advent calendar. She will measure herself by the quality of her amazing friends and family that show her love.
“I know I’ve put on weight,” she said, “but for now it really doesn’t need to matter.”