Embracing My Extra

Yes, I know that the hot term now is “thick.” But come on, everyone isn’t thick, some of us just have a little extra and I’m okay with mine. As I was anticipating going to homecoming and seeing old friends that I hadn’t seen in forever, I started examining my body with a very critical eye. I knew that so many folks from the past either looked the same or had improved with age. My face hadn’t changed much (still cute, yeah, I said it), but I surely wasn’t the same size that I was in school. Back then I was twenty years old and 130 pounds. Now, I’m forty-nine years old and extra pounds (surely you didn’t think I was going to say my weight). I kept looking at myself in the mirror, in and out of clothes. Ugh, why couldn’t my stomach still be flat, why was I cursed with these love handles? What terrible thing had I done to deserve this extra weight? Oh wait, I know what I did. I ate too much and exercised too little. But owning that truth didn’t make me feel any better. I just kept obsessing over my mid-section. Okay, and my arms, my back, and on and on.

I’d finally accepted that nothing was going to change about my body before homecoming, but soon realized that I was wrong. Thanks to a heart condition that required me to take steroids and sickle cell that forced me to have a blood exchange two days before homecoming, I was bloated like a freaking puffer fish. Had I not committed to this homecoming trip with my friend, I totally would’ve stayed home. I whined to my friend on the drive down, the first evening we hit campus, and the following morning. She tried to reassure me that I looked good, she rolled her eyes at me, and let me know that my complaining about my weight was annoying the hell out of her. But I persisted until we bumped into another friend that started putting herself down about her weight.

This old friend talked about herself and very little of what she said was positive. Clearly she wasn’t looking at herself the same way the rest of us were. I thought she looked great, loved her hair and her skin was perfection. And to be honest, she was smaller than she was when we were in school. Why couldn’t she see her beauty? Didn’t she realize that her harsh self-criticism was quite uncomfortable for those that had to keep hearing about it? Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. I’d been doing the same thing, imposing the same discomfort onto others. No one wants to hear anyone put themselves down or point out everything that makes them uncomfortable with their body. It makes you feel forced to reassure and compliment them when all you really want to do is tell them to shut it up. I turned to the friend that I’d traveled with and apologized. I assured her that I wouldn’t complain about my body anymore. I realized that if I was that unhappy with my appearance that I needed to work to change it because complaining certainly wouldn’t make a difference. My friend’s response to all of my revelations was a heartfelt “Thank God!”

So I’m back home and within four days I dropped five pounds. Don’t get excited for me, it was just water weight from the blood exchange. However, I have worked out twice and will commit to incorporating exercise as a regular part of my weekly routine. More importantly, I’m looking at myself through kinder, more accepting eyes. The self-love never wavered…LOL.


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