Looking back, I always wanted to be loved. I was. My parents worked themselves to the ground to give me everything, and for that, I will always be eternally grateful. But that wasn’t enough, I wanted everyone to love me for who I was. I strived and strived to be perfect. You can imagine how that turned out.
As a child at school I saw other children with groups of ‘best friends’, and although I had one friend I wanted more. I didn’t really fit in. I was fat, the others were thin, their parents had more money, and they were fantastic at ‘things’. I felt alone and invisible.
My mum showered me with love in the way that she knew how…food. Potato and cheese snacks warmed up in the microwave when I got home from school, cheese sandwiches made with white sliced bread before bed, cake for comfort…. You get the idea.
I got bigger and bigger, more and more unhappy.
But then I found something I was good at, swimming. Now I had something that people could compliment me on. I went all out, this would be my secret weapon. There was just one problem, swimming involved wearing a swimming costume and people could see me. I kind of overcame that, thinking that if I was good enough, maybe nobody would notice. The thing was, all the training I was doing (and all the food I was still eating) made my legs huge, making me stand out even more.
I wanted to be attractive, I really did. I wanted boys to notice me like they noticed others.
Swimming really was the key, for the first time I was getting attention, and I loved it. One day at the age of 14, and feeling pretty confident, I went shopping with a friend in a nearby town. We had passed a group of boys several times, they had been looking and smiling at me; I was happy. We passed them for about the fourth time in an hour when one of them shouted, “Hey look its thunder thighs again.”
I’m 50 years old, I still remember how I felt that day.
I wanted to die.
From that moment on it went downhill. Swimming stopped, the eating got worse and the self hate started to grow.
It continued to grow for years, bubbling under the surface. I’m not going to pretend that life was all bad, I found something else I was good at, singing and acting, and this didn’t involve getting naked. I lost myself in becoming characters that weren’t me. The whole ‘lots of friends and fitting in thing’ didn’t go away but I could escape, I could pretend to be someone else other than this fat, ugly girl.
For a time all was well. I found a husband, a job I loved, and everyone thought I was happy. I hid it well. Nobody really knew how I felt inside, how much I hated myself for being so fat and ugly (there are those words again). I convinced myself of all sorts of things, which may or may not have been true, but the mind plays tricks on us all. Now I could no longer use my mother’s cooking and love as an excuse for my size, now it was down to me, and I was failing badly.
I was growing heavier by the minute. My obsession with snacking after work/after a bad day/ because it was the weekend, got worse and worse. Any excuse to celebrate with a bottle of wine or a take away was taken advantage of. If my husband was working away cooking for one was boring, so you know what happened. Self hate continued to grow and get out of hand.
Years move on, I was still striving to be loved by everyone.
I did well in my job and got recognition, that was positive. I was now being trusted and liked for who I was, but still, that wasn’t enough for me, I wanted more. I wanted to be perfect. I moved to Italy, an amazing experience, but the freely available wine and good food got me to the heaviest I had ever been.
I never enjoyed having my picture taken because of what I looked like, but over the course of a month I saw two pictures of myself, I looked hideous. These were the pictures that changed my life.
I was absolutely disgusted with how I looked, and I knew I had to change.
My parents were older and in ill health, if I continued I would end up like them and maybe in an early grave. The terrifying thought of having to navigate the Italian health system was also the kick up the backside I really needed.
This would be the beginning of my journey to self love.
I tried every diet out there, most worked for a while but I got bored and then put the weight back on, but this time I was determined to make it work. I realised food was only part of the problem, the other part was how I felt about myself and the situations I found myself in. I started to change my mindset and notice my feelings; I started to take back control of my mind. It took a while, but slowly as my weight and thoughts improved, my weight and thoughts improved; it was a circle. And the rest, as they say, is history. Take a look.
Over thirty kilos gone, and kept off, a fresh way of thinking and a life I wish I’d had many years ago. I wasted so much time hating myself, not wanting to even be around any more that I almost self destructed.
Thankfully, just in time, I found a way to become myself. I’m still work in progress, but I’m now becoming someone I actually quite like.
I hope, if you have similar feelings, that you can see that self love is the key to being yourself and being happy, whatever age you are. If you'd like help with that, why not start by downloading my book Three Steps to Love You