…I mean, let’s be honest. It never completely went away.
But, over the past 12 months or so, I have done a lot of work to reach a level of acceptance that means the incessant, intrusive, extremely loud voice in my head that used to tell me I’m worthless, disgusting and that nobody will ever love me had been turned down to a minor annoyance. And that was a breath of fresh air compared to the negative self-talk I’ve exposed myself to for my whole life.
I had buried the kitchen scales deep in a cupboard. I’d stopped wearing clothes I wasn’t comfortable in. I shared (and still do share) my story online to help me come to terms with it, as well as try to help other people who might feel similar.
I even wrote over 1000 words on why I’m never trying to lose weight again.
And the thing is, I still stand by that post. I stand by the shift in mindset I’ve experienced over the past couple of years of my life to realise that my body is not the problem, our society is the problem, and I’m not backsliding down the hill of diet culture into the swamp of body loathing.
All that stuff was a little, well…easier is not quite the right word, but maybe felt more accessible, when I was in a loving, long-term relationship. It feels more possible to look at what’s in the mirror, right now, and allow yourself to think that it’s okay, right now, when you have the kind words and caring touch of someone who has already pledged to love you just as you are.
When that is lost, so too is the smidge of confidence you’d started to build.
My 5 year relationship ended because we realised we were more like friends than partners. It was as mutual and compassionate as a break-up can be.
Before I met him, I was a mess when it came to dating. And when I say mess, I mean – I didn’t do it. I had no clue how, and my confidence in my body and self was through the floor. But then I did meet him, and discovered maybe I could have these things called love and romance and sex that everyone else seemed to talk about All The Time.
But the wonder and the imposter syndrome never quite wore off. I could never quite believe he was with me; had he lost his mind? Was he unable to see the other girls in the room? I’d look at him next to me in bed sometimes in awe – this one chose me. Me. He was real and I loved him and he loved me too.
When it ended, I’d hoped that I’d moved on a little from being the 20-year-old I was when it started. That I’d have the security in knowing – I’ve done this before, so I can do this again. I can meet someone, I can sneak a kiss and go on dates and embrace the things I want from love; but it hasn’t been that easy.
Despite many prompts from friends, I can’t face putting myself out there. I’m regressing back to adolescent Sophie who couldn’t fathom how someone would want to date her, and so she just avoided the whole thing entirely. The less you expect, the less you’ll be disappointed, right?
And so, alongside the ‘nobody wants you’ voice, so too the ‘you need to lose weight’ voice has returned, with a vengeance.
I’m starting to look at calories again, doing mental maths in my head. Longing over clothes that will never fit me. Imagining a future where I am thin, and that is when I will date. The problem is, I know already that day will likely never come – but I am finding it so hard to get past it and start living Right Now.
All of this is to say, that just because we know something in our brains, doesn’t mean our heart knows it too.
Our brains could be telling us ‘don’t watch another episode, you’ll be tired in the morning’, or ‘don’t eat any more of that, you’ll end up feeling sick’, or ‘don’t wear those heels, you’ll instantly regret it’, but so often we ignore it. We go on and do the thing anyway, and wish we’d listened.
My brain is telling me ‘you don’t need to lose weight, you need to accept yourself as you are’, but my heart is longing for the ideal that if I shed some pounds, the pieces of my life will fall into place. I know this is a lie, but that doesn’t stop me wanting it so badly to be true.
I’m single now, and the weight loss voice is back, even though I never expected it to be. And if you feel the same, I’m sorry – I don’t have a magical solution, or some ‘top tips and tricks’ to end this post with that will help you get past it. I have no idea how I’m going to get past it myself.
But I do know that I left my relationship with the intention of letting go of what I don’t want, and finding what I do. And however long it takes me, however many pep talks I have to give myself – however many times I look in the mirror, think ‘I can’t do this’, but do it anyway, it will be worth it.