I’ve been triggered lately. You see, I hate having my photo taken and with the holiday season being upon us, what does everyone want to do? Take photos.
Obviously I politely oblige and smile at the camera, however, I rarely bother looking at the photo afterward, as I just don’t want to see it. My partner always laughs at me because I am constantly making funny faces when a lens is pointed in my direction, but I don’t do it because I think I’m funny; I do it because if I’m already making a silly face, it’s harder for me to criticize myself.
Photos are, and always have been, a trigger for me. When I look at a photo of myself, I am quick to find judgment. I might have thought I was having a good hair day, but the photo revealed I was not, I might have thought my makeup looked nice, but the photo showed imperfections, and perhaps the most common of all and especially as of late, I might have thought I hadn’t gained weight, but the photo shows otherwise.
A year ago, I was a strict vegan and I was always on some diet kick. It had been that way for years. But as of last fall, I decided “to hell with all this, I’m becoming an ‘eat-whatever-I-want-ivore.'” I have been so proud of my efforts to end the self-labeling and telling myself what I can and can’t eat, and I have thoroughly enjoyed indulging in new taste sensations and foodie explorations.
So now, when the holiday’s photos started flashing, I realized that it’s all caught up to me. I can see the extra 5-10 lbs. I’ve ‘earned’ in my lack of diet restrictions, and I can feel the way my clothes don’t fit the way they used to. Almost immediately, my mind said, “start cutting out foods.” I began re-playing in my head all the foods that I eat and figuring out what I can eliminate. I started telling myself that it’ll be better this way; I’ll be skinny again and it’ll make me happier.
And then it hit me: I won’t be happier. In fact, I’m happier NOW than I have been in a long time. I’m enjoying new foods, and cooking dinners, and weekend adventures with my partner, without worrying or stress. My taste buds are dancing in my mouth, and I’m laughing again.
These past few weeks have been hard. I began to fall into my old routine again and started over-analyzing things. Then, like the epiphanies we all hear about, I actually heard a voice inside my head say “Maybe, those 5-10 extra lbs. you keep stressing about is YOU. Maybe that’s how your body naturally should be.”
I stopped dead in my tracks. Wait for a second… that’s right. When I was this “ideal” skinny frame prior, I wasn’t happy; I had to push and deprive in order to maintain it. But now, I am happy. I am natural, spontaneous and free of labels, and as my life grows fuller, my body shows it as well… but that’s OKAY. It’s full of love, life and laughter. I fill out my clothes in a way that is appealing to my partner, it’s comfortable on my frame, and I have a new energy about me.
Those extra 5-10 lbs. are my 5-10 lbs. They are me. The other girl was not, and I need to let her go. As I look at myself in the mirror now, I hear that familiar voice again, the voice of calm and reason. It says “Welcome home.”