Monday, June 13, 2011

Acceptance

I wrote this for a self-acceptance blog over on tumblr and figured I'd cross-post it here.



Discusses: Eating disorders, self-injury, sexual/physical/emotional abuse, psychological issues, suicidal ideation...okay, “major fuckery” probably is the best way to sum it up!


My father told me no one would love me if I got fat. He, especially, wouldn't love me if I got fat. Then he took me into the bathroom and showed me how to push my fingers down my throat until I was empty. I was so young that it's my first memory. I purged throughout elementary school and didn't officially stop until after I was out of high school. And you know what? I got fat anyway. I just managed to destroy my metabolism and relationship with food in the process.

I was never allowed to believe my body was acceptable. I was never allowed to believe I was acceptable. Never.

My father sexually abused me for 10 years. A decade. Nearly 1/3 of my life. He told me I was selfish and worthless and unwanted; I was the reason behind all of his misery. He hit me and held me down in scalding hot water while I screamed. My mom wasn't interested enough to involve herself; abusing me emotionally as well. When I told the authorities what my father had done and begged for therapy because I was so suicidal I wasn't going to survive, they didn't believe me. They agreed with my parents that I was just “making things up” and “blowing things out of proportion.” They apologized to my abuser and the woman who defended him and never contacted me again. I learned to shut my mouth and swallow my pain.

The first time I cut myself I was 8. I used a jagged piece of fiberboard broken off the bottom of the drawer I kept all my Barbie clothes in. I sat on the dark brown carpet in my bedroom, sawing at my wrists, listening to my parents fight in the other room. The last time I cut myself I was 20. A cheap pink razor pressed into my bicep, staring at myself in the bathroom mirror, moments after my mom telling me I was just like my father.

When I was in my early 20s I found fat acceptance. And the heavens opened and the angels sang. I devoured (snort!) everything I could find. Hanne Blank, Marilyn Wann, Camryn Manheim, Nomy Lamm...I kneeled at their altars and worshiped their words. I read Body Outlaws and Big, Big Love dozens of times. I sought out and looked at pictures of naked fat women for the first time ever, amazed, seeing my body from the outside. The internet invited me into this amazing world where fat people existed and thrived.

I spent hours online, looking at photos of fat bodies. Until my eyes burned. Obsessed with the new found realization that my fat body wasn't an anomaly. My fat body wasn't freakshow material. My fat body was abundant and lush and spectacular. Curves and lines and rolls of soft flesh – I gazed on them in awe, disbelieving I could have ever thought it ugly.

Fat isn't disgusting. And that realization was fucking revolutionary.

Due to some degree of internet fame, I've been insulted in some of the most worst ways I could have imagined. The cruelty was worse than anything I'd ever experienced in real life. I didn't even have to go out in the world in order to be told how ugly and disgusting I was. I was mocked and insulted and harassed. Threads and posts sprang up solely to discuss what a hideous and horrible person I was. I was told to kill myself. My life was threatened. When my father committed suicide, I was told it was my fault – that they would have done the same if they had such a fat, ugly, piece of shit daughter.

But I'm still here. As much damage as the last few years of (questionable) notoriety have done to my self-esteem, I'm still standing. And I'm still fighting.

I have fibromyalgia, nerve damage, and injuries that have left me in a constant state of agony. It's hard to love and accept your body when it causes you pain. When you're so tired you can't leave the house for weeks. When it hurts to move even a few feet. When all the things you want feel out of reach because of it. It's hard to love the body that you also feel imprisoned by. But I'm trying. I'm trying to work within my limitations instead of allowing them to hold me back.

In the past three months I've acquired a pain specialist, psychologist, psychiatrist, nutritionist, and physical therapist. Sometimes I dorkily think of them as Team Heidi.

I'm 32 years old. (Possibly too old for tumblr!) And during those years I've binged, purged, starved, cut, and burned myself. I've been in a psych ward, too suicidal to be trusted in the real world. I've felt so ugly, so hated, so worthless that I wanted to die. But I'm still here.

I don't look in the mirror and see myself as beautiful. I probably never will. It just isn't a word that I think fits me. But that's okay. I don't have to be beautiful. I don't have to be sexy or gorgeous or even pretty. I don't owe that to anyone. I'm not saying that someone who calls me beautiful would be lying. I'm not saying someone couldn't think me beautiful. I'm saying that, for me, giving up the goal of “beautiful” lifted a weight off my shoulders and allowed me to move on.

I can still look in the mirror and like what I see, even if I'm not beautiful. I can still love and accept myself, even if I'm not beautiful. Because if I were to think of the worst possible things you could call me, ugly, undesirable, and unfuckable wouldn't make the list. If “beautiful” was the goal, I was destined to fail. So, instead, I ditched it and made new ones.

I want to wear awesome clothes that make me feel amazing. To wear makeup and glitter and dresses. I want to cover nearly every inch of my skin with ink. To look on the outside, the way I feel on the inside. To be intense and loud and brave.

I want to be seen.

I want to love myself as much as I love others. I want to be as kind to myself as I am others.

I want to be compassionate. Considerate. Loving. Intelligent. Strong. Powerful.

I want to be a good person.

There are a lot of things I aspire to. Beautiful isn't one of them. Beautiful isn't the be all end all of my dreams. Beautiful is nice and all but beautiful isn't enough.

I've acted from a place of self-loathing and from a place of self-love. And, believe me, the latter is a hell of a lot more fun and rewarding.

I fuck during the day with the blinds open. Something that, five years ago, I didn't think I was capable of. I wore a sleeveless shirt in front of people, strangers even, for the first time since I was in elementary school.

I have bad days, like everyone. Sometimes they're bad weeks or bad months. I have severe depression and anxiety issues so when I fall, I fall hard. But I get up again. I get up again and push forward. Because I know what the alternative is. And I no longer find that alternative acceptable. Once again, the internet saves me. I look at fat women who wear bikinis and miniskirts. I read the words of Marianne Kirby, Lesley Kinzel, Tasha Fierce, Natalie Perkins, and a million other women and I know I deserve better than what I accept. I know I have a choice.

Covering myself in oversized clothes and hiding in the shadows or swimming naked in front of others, the sun on my ample flesh? I know which I'm going to choose from now on. Always.

I've allowed my parents, peers, media, and culture to define and destroy me for the last 30 years. No more. The next 30 are mine.

10 comments:

  1. Oh Heidi this was just beautiful. This in particular was my favorite bit "There are a lot of things I aspire to. Beautiful isn't one of them. Beautiful isn't the be all end all of my dreams. Beautiful is nice and all but beautiful isn't enough."

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  2. And this is why we love you, dear <3

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  3. Heidi,

    You are wrong. Beauty does matter. It is everything. And you are beautiful-full of beauty.

    Beauty doesn't lie in this meat suit we all wear. It really is the soul within. I'm sure you've met many a pretty person, who within is really quite ugly and horrid.

    You are beautiful. You are strong. You have survived horrendous things which would have destroyed the majority of people (including me) had they had to go through what you did. You have survived and done so with grace and dignity and determination. I've no idea where you get that strength. You amaze me.

    I suggest you make a list of what is truly beautiful. What is good. What you most find beautiful in other people. I think when you look over that list, you will discover that you fit it to a tee.

    In sum, you are TRULY beauty-full. There is no questioning it.

    much love and admiration,
    Christina

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  4. You are really brave to put yourself out there because there are so many arseholes who use the internet to communicate the bile they'd never have the guts to say in person.

    Me, if I ever met you IRL I would say what I say here: You're inspirational and that dress looks great, especially the way the neckline highlights your tatt. I'm in recovery from mental illness (borderline personality disorder, generalised anxiety disorder and social phobia) and alcoholism. Reading your blog, I love the "fuck shame" tag. Because I have a lot of shame and it drags me down if I let it.

    Rock on, Heidi.

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  5. Long-time lurker, first-time commenter. This was like a ray of sunshine through clouds. I'm so happy you've gotten to this place of truth and power. Thank you for writing.

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  6. I related so so much to this, Heidi. Seeing your personal growth laid out like this is a very powerful thing. I'm so proud of you. <3

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  7. Thank you for the bravery it took to put this out there. You are beautiful.

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  8. You are simply fantastic. Every time I read what you write, and how you choose to embrace the world instead of run away from it...choose to affirm yourself instead of giving in to the messages of venom and cruelty....I just want to BEG you to, like, be my personal Yoda, and let me follow you to the swamps of Dagobah to learn from you for a couple months, until I can chop the haters in half with my Fatsaber. And everyone is right - you ARE beautiful.

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  9. You are a wonderful, beautiful person. You are so lovely. Those people who are rude to you- that's because they are cruel nasty people who don't know how to be human.

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  10. This is great, but I'm a little confused as to why you didn't mention your bypass? It seems relevant when talking about your pain and your fat...

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