It was a sweltering August afternoon, and I was standing in the lane outside my house. The postwoman had just delivered a letter, and I had been forced out into the sunshine from the cool dark interior. The smell of wild oregano and the sound of the crickets in the olive trees jolted me back into reality.
I hated the heat.
Not just because it made me feel exhausted, but also because I stood out even more than usual in my inappropriate clothes. It was beach season, not that I went to the nearby beach, I was too fat. My long trousers and long sleeved shirt covered my pale white skin.
I stood there in the heat and cried...I cannot go on like this anymore.
I came to Italy for a new life; I feel so at home here, but all the food and drink I’m consuming is making my body even more shameful. I used to eat because I was stressed and angry, now I eat because I’m happy and relaxed. There has to be something seriously wrong with me. I’m a disgrace, I’m ugly, nobody wants to look at me, I’m a failure.
The same old thought pattern reared its ugly head again. I started yet another diet, promising myself that I wouldn’t give up until I dropped 4 dress sizes.
I did achieve my goal, but it didn’t make me happy. Instead of being slim and pretty, I was baggy and old; I still felt like a disgrace.
I set another unrealistic goal, the thoughts and the diet carried on into winter. I denied myself the food I loved, then I binged on everything that was bad for me. I began to think...
To hell with it, this is how my life will always be. I’ve always been destined to be an ‘ordinary’ grey person blending into the background of bright shiny people who have perfect lives. Perfect jobs, perfect homes, perfect health, perfect bodies.
But the Italian way of life started to seep into my soul. I mixed with people who loved life, loved eating and being sociable, they had confidence in themselves and everything that they did. They didn’t live to work, they worked to live….life was important, it didn’t have to be perfect.
Then one day, during a training session for women entrepreneurs, it suddenly hit me.
I love and deeply care for others, I’ll help anyone who’s unhappy or alone because I don’t want them to feel as horrible as I do, but I am just as worthy of love and care as anyone else. I have to start putting myself first. I’m 50 years old and I deserve a life, I want to have fun, and from now on ...... I’m not perfect but I AM ENOUGH.
Then I understood the problem, I ate to suppress the feelings inside me, how I felt about myself. I was listening to the voices in my head about not being enough, so I turned to food because it was the only thing that gave me comfort.
Today, I’m actually wearing clothes labelled small. I’m also 5 kg’s heavier than my target weight, but those figures and letters don’t define my worth anymore. I’m free of my self loathing and body hate, my body is the shape it needs to be. Some days I look stunning, others I look like hell. I’m not perfect, but I am real and I am enough.
And looking back I always have been enough even if I didn’t know it. I run a wonderful business as the English voice of some top companies in Italy and the rest of the world; I sound sexy, intelligent and trustworthy, all the things I wanted to be. Some people would say that should be enough, I don’t need to do any more, and it’s true; I don’t. But I feel so passionate about body image and women who suppress their feelings with food. I want to do it.
I want women to live a life just like I do, free of diets, free of self hate and free to know they are enough. I want women to know that they are all beautiful in some way, even if they’re not perfect, and making them shine makes my heart explode with happiness...this is now how I know I am enough.