Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.


This Body

I was a skinny person who became obese. I was underweight at birth, throughout my early childhood, and was pretty thin until the last year of college when the combination of traumatic breakdown, plentiful rich food, a foundation of disordered eating habits, and injury combined to really add weight onto my frame. I left college at least two sizes larger than I started.

Then another injury while my brain was still fragmented from trauma, locked into silence. I broke my left ankle playing volleyball after work. Within a year I'd added a couple more sizes. Throughout my 20s that's how it went, a size creeping on nearly every year until by the time I was 30 I had gone from a size 5/7 when I started college to a size 24/26.

I never was comfortable with my thin body, especially as a teen. This is the place where body issues, PTSD, and sexual orientation meet head-on. In my thin body as a teenager I was encouraged that girls wear sexy things. I was directed away from my "tomboy" style as much as possible, especially for dressier occasions. It didn't feel right on so many levels.

Dressing up, showing off my thin body like girls were expected to brought attention that made me uncomfortable. Even at my largest I was never entirely comfortable in the various dresses, skirts, high heels and corsets. It was always a costume, I was always reserved, a bit stiff, and very self-conscious. When the attention of men lead to intimacy with men I felt incredibly awkward most of the time, sometimes I would feel entirely disconnected. It has been painful, but illuminating to figure out in my 30s that part of the problem all along is that my sexual orientation is strongly directed towards women, learning to use the words "Lesbian", "gay", and "queer" more openly.

Losing the weight has felt like this slide right back into adolescence at times especially being combined with all the sexual confusion. Yep, just like being 15 all over again, but with mortgage payments. Here I am back in a body that gets attention, especially from men. If anything I'm more hyper aware of my discomfort around my attractiveness because I'm no longer disassociated from the traumatic episodes. But I'm also not in exactly the same body and driven by the images of bodies we are surrounded with, so I'm quick to judge the way the extra skin moves very harshly and am sometimes so distracted by it I am not fully present to anything but feeling ashamed of my body.

I'm still trying to pick my way through it all. When I first lost all the weight I was entirely without all the girly clothes that had been my costume when I was obese. My back condition had already made it so I'd given away all my high heels. I swung back to being a "tomboy" with a vengeance. I even got into a fight with my Mom over it when I'd bought a really nice outfit for her wedding that was based around some green trousers.

I still have the skirt I bought in protest, I was wearing it last weekend. As uncomfortable as I felt with my body in the black dress I bought, there's part of me that enjoyed wearing it a little bit. It is the same part of me that occasionally enjoys the way a skirt moves around my legs in a breeze. I am finding some element of compromise between the "tomboy" and the girl who never got to pick being the "princess" on her own terms.

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  1. Seems to me that part of humanities curse is that we tend to see ourselves as nouns; implying something fixed and static, rather than what we truly are: verbs. I think folks would be a lot more happy and comfortable with themselves if they'd remember that we are constantly in a state of movement and change. That may calm our inconsistent and contradictory natures.Regardless, thanks for sharing such deeply personal stuff. I was the bell it resounded through. When I was in my twenties and early thirties I was a very attractive man (according to the "standards"). The problem is that I didn't fully appreciate or understand what it means to be "attractive" in our society; from charisma assisting in getting a "good job" to the benefits to dating that come with good looks. Now that I am old and ugly (well not really, but definitely not a "looker" like I was) I see just how screwed up society is about beauty/attractiveness. I think part of the reason why Yarp?! strives for "ugliness" is as a response to this mechanism in society.Frankly, as I age what I find attractive is less the surface crap and more the inner individual; perhaps it's because with us guys our sex drive lessens as we age (thank goodness). Anyhow, thanks again for sharing. I really appreciate it.

  2. Jeremy, thanks so much for taking the time to write your comment. I really am liking thinking about the idea of seeing oneself as a verb instead of a noun!And thanks for sharing your idea of community through Yarp?!

  3. You Sir/Madam are the enemy of confusion eeryvwhree!

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