Thursday, February 4, 2010
Self-Esteem, PCOS, and All That Flab: Part 2
* This is part 2 of a series of posts that explore my struggles with self-esteem, weight, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, and the very difficult task of trying to be my fullest self in a world that constantly demands more than what I am. Because this subject is so vast and most of my life has been spent swimming in its waters in some form or another I thought it best to break it up . . . also so as to not bore you to death!
Some of you may not be able to relate, but I hope that you will find it interesting anyway. And perhaps you will be better able to understand someone in your life. Some of you may be able to relate and I hope that you will know that you are not the only one -- that the journey may be long, but progress is progress. Remember that no matter how small it may feel, you still are not the same person that you were yesterday. And that is something to celebrate!
For Part 1, please scroll below . . .
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Sixth grade proved to be an even more difficult year. I still liked my "ex-boyfriend" though he had obviously moved on to other "relationships." I was beginning to notice the differences between me and some of the other girls. Our elementary was becoming intertwined with the other elementary that we would eventually merge with into the junior high and senior high school, which meant that my place on the popularity totum pole was slowly descending. Boyfriend/girlfriend dealings shifted from a fun side-game to full-fledged, center-of-the-universe way of life. It was now impossible to avoid the messy confrontations of feeling like there was something wrong with me.
I began noticing how I was "meaty" and many other girls were not, who just so happened to be the most popular. Up until I was around 9 I was a very spritely, thin little girl. When I turned 9 I started to really develop quite a bit of muscle, which I believe I inherited from my father. Once I turned 11 I started fleshing out even more. I got that dreaded stomach, which my mother described as "baby fat." Really, can I still have "baby fat" at 29? I got glasses at 11. My teeth became crooked, due to crowding. I have a very small mouth that didn't allow enough room for all my teeth. Plus my teeth are so strong and stubborn that I didn't lose all of my baby teeth until I was 15! I distinctly remember removing my last two by 1.) pushing it out with a car key, and 2.) extracting the last one with wire cutter plyers. So since a few teeth kept hanging on for the apocalypse a couple adult teeth grew in behind the baby ones.
It's amazing how much a crooked smile can alter your self-worth. It's also amazing the monumental effects that acne can have -- as if it was a natural disaster, wiping away all your belongings and scourging the land with its violent flames. And why is it that there were always some girls that never ever seemed to have a blemish throughout their entire years of puberty? How did they do that? I thought we were all at least briefly plagued with a few spots during adolescence. But I swear to you that I saw more than one that seemed to escape its wicked grasp. I'm still confused by that. I'm still dealing with some adult acne.
There were always those girls that never seemed to go through an awkward stage like the rest of us. They were always beautiful, they probably still are. And though they may have had it rough in other ways, they never had to deal with the pain of being an "ugly duckling." They never had to wonder why boys didn't like them, and why people would whisper and giggle about them behind their backs because they weren't cool enough. I don't want to discount whatever pain they did have in their lives (because everybody has some). This just happens to be one pain they were lucky enough to avoid.
I spent many a year nurturing my hatred toward these girls, and everyone who seemed to worship them. I was angry because I wanted what they had. I wanted to be beautiful. I wanted all the boys to like me and all the girls to admire me. I wanted to bask in the bright and beautiful confidence that they always seemed to exude. Well, let's be honest, enough of it was cockiness. And I hated them for that. Some of them were such mean people and they didn't deserve all that they had, in my opinion. It wasn't fair. It wasn't right.
Seventh grade came . . . and I can probably accurately say that it was the worst year of my life. Suddenly I was thrown into a much larger school with much older kids. And of course, I was just a peon now. It was terrifying. It was . . . is "soul-crushing" too extreme a term? I made some new friends that had come from the other elementary, and lost a couple from my own that were taken into the rich and glorious folds of popularity, while I remained behind in Class B, or maybe Class C, I'm not really sure. I remained "friendly" with them, but that was all. It was obvious that the tides had shifted. I hung back like an animal licking its wounds.
I began to feel quite lonely at times. I had my family still, which I have always been extremely close to. I had some good friends. I had my faith in God. But there was always this gnawing feeling . . . this sadness that would creep slowly out of the cracks and crevices of my spirit. I would sit with it awhile because there was something that felt comforting about that. It was painful trying to hide the insecurities and vulnerabilities all day long around everyone, that sometimes I just wanted to bathe in my depression, because at least it felt real and I didn't have to pretend. No one really knew all that I was going through. My parents, who knew most everything about me, didn't even know the depths I reached until I was in my 20's. I don't think they fully understood where it all came from. And quite honestly, I'm still trying to figure that out myself.