I have scars. They are scattered over my thighs, my stomach, and my lower back. For the past 10 years of my life these scars defined a huge part of who I was. These scars said that I was a crazy mess of a girl. These scars said I couldn’t find a healthy way to cope with life. These scars said I was WEAK. So I hid my scars. I lived summers in Arizona and Las Vegas never wearing anything aside from jeans because I was afraid to have anyone see my scars. When I was 14 and my family found out I had been cutting myself they thought I was doing it for attention. My mother was embarrassed by what I’d been doing so she told me to stop it. The problem was I didn’t know how to stop it. I didn’t know how else to calm the storms inside of my head. I knew only that cutting my skin open made me feel better. So because I didn’t know how to stop I became better at hiding. My cutting moved from my legs to my back and stomach where the evidence was much easier to hide. Within my family it became just another thing we didn’t talk about. I became a master at lying and very good at pretending I was okay. I also became deeply ashamed of my scars. Pretty, healthy, happy girls didn’t cut themselves. Normal girls didn’t crave pain and blood and secrets. When I grew up and decided to stop hating myself my scars were an issue. They were a reminder of how lost I could get in my emotions. They were visible proof of what a freak I had been. As I grew more confident in the person I was in every other area of my life, my blindness, my personality, my ability to take care of myself and others, my scars remained a serious point of shame for me. They continued to be a reason to hate my body, my past, and who I had been. This summer when it started to get hot I decided I was done. I wasn’t going to spend one more day hiding who I was. The very real truth is that I spent the majority of my life being broken and in a lot of ways, I was comfortable with that. It was what I knew. Changing who you’ve always been takes a huge amount of work and perseverance. Part of being strong for me now is accepting all the ways I wasn’t. Being confident means I can wear shorts or a dress that doesn’t go to the floor. Being me hasn’t always been perfect. I haven’t always done the healthy thing. I haven’t always been happy. I haven’t always been free from shame and embarrassment, but today I am. I’m PROUD of my scars because I’m proud of who I have become. I’m proud to say that I don’t have to keep secrets anymore. I’m proud to say that I no longer have to pretend I’m okay. Because I’m so much better than okay now.
It’s been a long while since I’ve been actively unhealthy about my body. It’s been years since I’ve even dieted. I thought for a long time that taking care of my body was the same thing as accepting myself. The same as liking the way I look. If I’m not unhappy enough to do anything to change it, than I must be happy with it, right? Every day since I was a very young child I have had the thought that I am to fat, need to lose weight, not thin enough. Never thin enough. This applied even when I weighed 106LBS, with my hair coming out in handfuls passing out a couple of times a week because I hadn’t eaten properly in weeks, months. Those mornings I’d wake up and I’d be dizzy. I’d see my ribs and hips sticking out and I’d think, if this is how I look today, what could I look like if I just lost 5, 8, 10 more pounds? The obsessive thinness didn’t last more than a couple of ears. When I turned 18 and became the responsible party for a baby girl for a big majority of the time I decided I had to care a bit. I had to eat enough not to pass out because I had this little girl to care for. I gained weight. I stopped falling and my hair grew in thicker. The stress though, the thoughts of negativity never went anywhere. If I ate food I wanted I was fat. I was nasty. I thought for a long time that that was normal. Those girls who aren’t miserable about their weight are either size 0 or fucking liars! There’s no way some normal, healthy, average sized girl wakes up in the morning and doesn’t hate her body, at least a little bit. There’s certainly no way I could EVER be one of those girls who wakes up and gets dressed and feels okay about the size of her jeans. There’s no way I could be one of those girls who eats a candy and doesn’t feel like a pig for it. I thought that the simple fact that I could fake it, that I could eat and get dressed and not actively say how much I hated my body was the very best I’d ever be able to get. This week I finally realized that is no longer the truth for me. Last year I was incredibly blessed to meet the man I am going to spend the rest of my life with. He has listened to hours of my whining about my body. From before we actually met in person he has told me that I am beautiful. I have sat in tears and argued with him that, no, no I’m not. I’m fat. You don’t understand. He has no patience for this line of argument from me. I don’t know what it is that has changed in my head this last few weeks but something has. A couple of weeks ago I got dressed and the thought in my head was not that I hate my body, not that I’m fat, nasty, I thought to myself standing in my closet, Okay. I’m okay with this. I’m okay with the way I look. At the time I didn’t know what I weighed. A few days later I checked my weight thinking if I felt okay about my ]body I must have lost weight. I hadn’t. I weigh today the very most I have ever weighed in my life. I had a decision to make. This may sound strange to people who have never experienced it, but it became an actual decision. I had the boyfriend sit down with me and tried the best I could to explain to him that I want to let this shit go, I want to not worry about it anymore, but I’m afraid if I do that, as a blind girl I wouldn’t realize if I’d gained to much weight. Like where do I draw the line of what’s acceptable to me if I don’t need to be a stick thin girl anymore? The boyfriend is very good at speaking a language I can understand, even when I’m in whiny girl mood. After hours of talking about this I realized that I’d made the decision to not focus so much on my weight a long time ago. The decision I was struggling with that night was if I wanted to really let the negativity in my head go. I could choose to hold on to it. To bring those thoughts back to life and grow them. Or I could choose to not. I could choose to let them go and actually, for the first time, know what it means to be happy with myself. To accept myself. I know this sounds very fake. I know that because if I’d read something like this a couple of months ago I would have thought it was some girls attempt to convince herself she was happy with a body she’d given up on changing. That isn’t what this is though. This is a girl who has finally given up being unhappy. This is a girl who has decided there is no room in her head for ugliness. This is a girl who is going to look at the people around her with a confidence you can’t get by losing jean sizes or numbers on a scale. Be healthy, be yourself, and be happy with whatever number that ends up being!