298: The Weight of Me

I don’t understand my body, what it looks like, what others see me as, how I am supposed to look, what is expected, what is healthy, what is normal, what is standard, what is right.

There is a layering of problems associated with my body image.

1) No Norm Exists

No norms exist related to body image except what society, or more so the media and advertisement companies and other corporations want me to buy into. There is a belief system that varies from year to year, dangled in front of me. I don’t want to be a fish: a hungry guppy rising up to take hold of some enticing treat that will likely gorge me, stab me, break me, or result in me being sliced open, gutted, and fried to a crisp. Nor do I want to see the bait. But everywhere this bait floats about, the hook hidden and waiting to damage.

2) I Have a Degree of Body Blindness

It is hard for me to see myself as a whole, and to see others as a whole. I can see when someone has some extra padding, a few extra pounds beyond this societal standard of ideal weight, but I can’t hold the whole of someone’s image in my mind. If I was asked to sketch a body, I could not. Everything would be out of proportion, including the length of the arms and legs, the scale of the neck, and the angles of the face. Everything I take in is somehow mutated and rearranged, so that what I recall in my mind’s eye could likely be a Vincent Van Gogh painting. I cannot see my own body, clearly, as well. I rely too heavily on the eye of a camera, only to have discovered as of late that the camera is not an adequate portrayal of my weight, as the aspects of my clothing, the way I am standing, the angle of the camera, the type of camera, the lighting, and even my mood, posture, and expression, affect the end result (the photo image).

I’ve studied myself in photos for months, and still am baffled by what I look like; and how I look to myself, changes each and every time I glance at my reflection. And even the reflections are deceiving; how I appear in the rearview mirror, the glass of a window, or from one bathroom mirror to the next, always shifts, and I find a new person staring back at me, reversed and bewildered. I am left to wonder where the real me exists. In front of the full length mirror I stand, turning and processing, in awe of the stranger standing there. Photos will generally depress me, as they do not seem to represent who I see myself as. And worse, I can’t really see myself at all in form. I am like an unformed mass, shifting as the flowers and plants vary with the seasons. I cannot find myself, as hard as I seek, at least my outside self; for I seem as mysterious as the birth of the universe, as infinite, and as ever-changing.

3) I latch on to rules and examples of beauty even though the societal norm of perfection is unattainable

I have been brainwashed. I have been bombarded with images of what I should look like. I have been told, in the form of photos, movies, sitcoms, commercials, advertisements, magazine covers, billboards, department store displays, peers’ behavior, and various fix-yourself-now articles, that I am somehow wrong and in need of repair. In addition, I have been informed that if I go through various steps, I will then be adequate, and once adequate I shall be accepted, loved, and adored. I have seen this “beauty” scenario unfold and be reinforced when I was a teenager; seen how the people around me responded and took note of me if I was dressed the “right” way, if my hair was “good,” if my makeup enhancing, my body shapely. I have seen the attention that the socially accepted “beauty” brings. I have also seen and felt how empty the experience of acceptance based on exterior beauty alone can be, seen how fickle and cruel the shallow admiration is. I have felt like a tree adorned for the holidays, sparkly and the center of attention, only to be later tossed to the side of the road waiting my fate. But still, I have this brain, some type of organizational system working inside of me that searches for the “rules” the standards, the way to exist on this planet and in this society. I think, deep within, that if I can find the right path, I will fit in. Yet, I am faced with an unhealthy path; one that leads to imperfection after imperfection, and demands my money, and worse my soul.

4) I exist at one extreme or another

The place of middle ground in all areas of my existence is foreign to me; as hard as I study and try to get there, I cannot. My mind works in extremes. I am generally high or low, calm or hyper, still or moving, cautious or daring, charming or a pain in the butt, loving or stand-offish. The in between space baffles me, and analysis of the concept of middle ground leaves me stranded in thought, wondering why I cannot be “that way,” the way of the masses, the way of the easy life.

Though I try hard to find balance, I continually find myself swinging on the spectrum of intensity, the volume of my every minute, high or low; the intensity affected by the tides, the planets, the food I take in, the music surrounding, the sounds, the energy of other people, the thoughts roaming within, the expectations placed on myself, the voice that rises and interrupts my doing, the inconsistency of trying to be, and the varying degrees of living in the moment.

I am unsettled. Every inch of me unsettled. And like the shifting of my body image in my mind’s eye, my state of being shifts. My efforts are circumvented by the infectious factors all about me. In being this way, I take on tasks with a high degree of interest or I give a task no regard whatsoever. This, this taking on of tasks, applies to the way I manage the weight of my physical body. I can be extreme for months with a diet, avoiding certain fattening and bloating foods, avoiding sugar, avoiding all junk food, avoiding grains, etc. But I can only exist in the state of extreme for so long, and then I break, and where I had felt to be in a constant state of fathom, I now emerge into a state of feast, starving and deprived. My weight fluctuates depending upon where my pendulum of intensity exists. I am at the mercy of my passion or lack of interest.

5) I feel better at my ideal weight, but the definition of my ideal weight varies depending on source.

I would like to say that I am comfortable in my own skin, but I am not. I have latched onto an ideal number for my weight based on how my clothes fit and how I appear in some photos. Not all photos, because even my ideal weight looks odd in most images. To me, when observing myself, I can appear obese and bloated, even though I am told I am skinny. Ideal weight is listed and available on medical charts. But this weight standard is obsolete. I have always been much heavier in scale number than I appear in form. I was stick-skinny in high school, skinnier than most everyone, but I was heavier on the scale. I am 5’ 4” and in the last several months average about 139 pounds. This is a high weight for some people, but for me I can fit into size 4 or size 6 pants. For me this is thin. At 137 I start to appear gaunt and unhealthy. I know that I appear best at 139 pounds even though this amount weight is repeatedly reinforced in movies, magazine articles, and charts as “heavy.”

I am confused by contradictory data, and contradictory data is everywhere. There are sources that say it is good to go into menopause with weight around the belly, and some fat on the bones, as this decreases your chances of bone loss. I have read it is natural and healthy to have some excess body weight as one approaches their fifties; yet so many studies warn of various diseases and fatalities if the weight is not monitored and controlled. I look back at paintings from the centuries before, and think the voluptuous women look lovely. I look at the stick-skinny, starving-themselves women, and think they look stern and unhappy, rigid and angry. I look at myself and don’t know what I think, beyond a woman struggling to find the “norm” and what is “right,” in a world with variables and contradictions.

I latch onto numbers. So I latch onto 139 pounds as my standard, as my ideal, as my place to be. But I have a slow metabolism. I can eat one meal a day and gain weight. Is my esteem wrapped up in my weight? I don’t think so. I think my esteem is wrapped up in the unattainable image I think I am supposed to attain: an image I cannot see in my mind’s eye, an image that is deceptive, contradictory, and unachievable. I am not wrapped up in looking skinny or attractive enough, I am wrapped up in trying to figure out what I look like to begin with, how to keep a number on the scale from fluctuating so I feel stable in a very non-stagnant world.

I just want to fit in, or more so blend in. I don’t want to stand out for a perceived “negative” attribute; I don’t want to be unhealthy; I don’t what to exhibit gluttony; I don’t want to appear “wrong.” All these “norms” and expectations I set upon myself. And I don’t know how to turn the voice of expectation off. How to just be with me. How to just love me. How to see I am not this vessel that ages daily, slowly deteriorating towards death.

6) I set different standards on myself than other people.

I logically can tell myself that I do not care what others look like, and this is the truth. My dearest friends can be any weight, and they are just as lovely and beautiful to me. I don’t take notice of people’s weight as much as their eyes or their kindness. I love all shapes and sizes, and find attributes that are unique and different to be interesting and attractive. I like a woman with a little fat on her, personally. And if I were a man, or a person attracted to women in a physical way, I would choose someone for their inner beauty and character, not for their weight. Weight would not be a factor at all. And as a female attracted to men, I am not attracted to the weight or fitness-level of a man. At this point in my life, I could be in a romantic relationship (if I wasn’t married, of course) with any shape or size, any ethnicity, and any age (within reason).

The outside exterior of another, male or female, friend or stranger, no longer affects me like it did in previous years. I see the collective person: their soul, energy, purpose, drive, love, heart, etc. all interwoven to produce a beauty. Yet, I cannot do this with my own self. Make myself see my collective beauty.

I know I am lovely inside. I know I have a huge heart, massive amounts of sensitivity, compassion, integrity, honor, and love, but yet, when I evaluate my own beauty I go back to this fictitious number on the scale.

7) I don’t know where to turn for help.

If I let go of my rigid goal of maintaining a certain weight, I would gain weight. While I might be able to learn to feel comfortable in my own skin when I am heavier than now, I face other complications as I gain weight. When I add on pounds my chronic fatigue and chronic pain increases, exercise becomes harder, and just moving in general is burdensome. When I gain weight I do not recognize myself, or rather I recognize myself even less, and I am confused when I see my image.

However, while striving to maintain my weight, I put unyielding pressure on myself of what to eat and what not to eat. I punish myself for cheating. And for me cheating is having organic cheese puffs instead of organic red peppers with my humus. I tell myself terrible messages, such as I don’t have willpower, I am going to gain weight and no one will love me if I am not attractive, I will forever be alone, and on and on.

In addition, food affects me drastically. I cannot eat anything, beyond pure protein, without having instant pain and fatigue. So, I often go most of the day without eating, because as soon as I eat I have a reaction, in that extreme fatigue sets in coupled with pain in my muscles and joints. I have tried many different diets, food combinations, etc. for many years, to no avail. I have come to the conclusion that I am allergic to earth food, and that’s just the way it goes. For me eating fruits, nuts, and vegetables all day is the best, but I crave more.

There aren’t any answers out there. I’ve searched and searched; I’ve waited. I’ve dug deep inside. I’ve meditated, medicated, supplemented, detoxed, etc. I finally reached the point where I believe the best thing for me to do is to stop analyzing my diet and being so extreme. But that’s what scares me; for when I let go, the weight comes back, and so does the resulting painful effects. I’m searching for that state of limbo, where I can just exist without effort, without constantly trying to rebalance, where I can just be. But even the searching hurts.

8) I find my security in the number on the scale.

You could tell me I’m lovely. For a short while I would bask in your compliment. But then, the words you gave to me would fade away, and within a day, or sometimes hours, I would no longer feel your compliment. Instead I would wonder once again if I was truly too ugly for this world. I know this sounds absurd, but this is the untruth that plays out in my mind. I do not understand what I look like, and thusly do not understand how you perceive me. And everyone perceives me differently based on their own life experience and developed tastes and biases. Everywhere I go, I know if someone takes note of me, I am being evaluated. And I dislike that invasion and aspect of being in society.

I want to be seen as the interior me, but am forced to be first presented dressed in this physical essence. In some ways my weight is the only thing that I can control about my appearance, the only thing I can keep the same when all about me is shifting. The rest of me, beyond the finite number on a scale, I cannot see or determine. I cannot find the truth of what I am on the exterior, and so the only security and constant I can return to is the number on a scale. I have a lot of dependence on the number.

It’s not that I want to control my weight; it’s that I want to control some semblance of my existence. I want to understand my physical being, even if it’s only one small aspect, one three digit number.

Everything changes so much in my world from moment to moment, from thought to thought, and event to event, that numbers have been my security blanket for years. So, yes, the number on the scale is my enemy or friend. As it climbs I fear the future, and as it decreases towards the “ideal” I know I am moving forward towards a part of who I was or am. The further I am away from the number on the scale that I have decided is “the number,” the further I am away from my own sense of self.

I long to find my security for my physical self somewhere beyond a number and beyond an image. But I often wonder, if I cannot view this illusion of self, then how can I be secure. Rather it is acceptance I seek. Acceptance of the unknown and the release of my dependence on outsiders to quantify who I am. An acceptance in the knowing that although I am invisible in regards to my appearance to physical self, I am solid in my understanding of spirit.

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24 thoughts on “298: The Weight of Me

  1. i have been so snotty nosed today. WHEN YOU HAVE ASPERGERS ..YOU DO ..NOT..UNDERSTAND YOUR BODY YOU HAVE NOT SAID WHAT YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND AND YOUR PROBLEMS OF BODY IMAGE

    mark

  2. Heavens! So much packed into this post that I do not know where to begin. You have described many, many, many of my issues. I am so utterly disconnected from my body that I have NO idea what I really look like. The number on the scale means nothing to me though because my anorexia and dysmorphia. I look the exact same at 140 or 95 pounds.

    Interestingly, when I was pregnant I was more connected to my body image than ever. With the twins that is, with my youngest I struggled a little, but it was a non-issue for me because I was pregnant! So thankfully, my anorexia and dysmorphia was trumped by the connection and love with my children.

    When I look at others I see their souls. I I see their colors. I see their potential and gifts. The only time I start to see outward features, which I see only in parts, such as a nose, an eye, a mouth, one hair that is a different color on their arm, etc.. is when they are not kind. When a person is spewing negativity that is when I notice those other things.

    However, instead of judging those features I immediately become empathetic and feel the “real” reasons as to why they are acting that way. It hones into their goodness. This is a good thing and a bad thing because I get fooled by people’s goodness or potential. No matter how much good you see in a person you cannot allow them to treat you badly or manipulate you. Hard lesson -still have not learned. 🙂

    Food is my nemesis! I have to be so careful, I have managed to find a diet that works for my body, but if I trail off in the least I can be sick for days. Currently, I am struggling with anemia and it causes me to be unable to know what I truly look like because I am so fatigued and drained. I feel like I look gray and gaunt, but no one else sees me that way. It does not matter it is what I see, but still I do not even know who I am looking!

    I will stop now I have written my own post on here. 🙂 Thank you for sharing yourself! You bring so much clarity and healing into our heart. You are a beautiful creature inside and out. (I prefer creature than human, you know I relate to them much more. ;-))

    Much love, light, and so many bubbles that bursts giggles all around you!

    1. I just adore you, and know I would adore you even more in person, regardless of your shape, size, or ounces. What a life we lead… so close in our experiences, so many challenges, but what beautiful souls, hearts, and minds we have. Love you bunches, Angel. Lots of beautiful light to you, my friend, ~ Sam

  3. When I see photos of myself I can’t believe its what I look like. It’s very confusing to the difference I see when I look even at myself in the mirror. Between young and old. slim and fat, happy and sad. Blank and lively. Gawd knows what normal is. I feel better at 132ibs under that I look gawky. I guess to that levels of fatigue affect my opinion of myself. Blessings for wellness on every level Sam. x

    1. Yes… I so get that…. especially with time and age changes… Ten years ago seems like another life time. My past doesn’t seem real, and to see myself, and not recognize myself, makes this more intense. Thanks so much for your comment. You know your exact weight for comfort too! Interesting. Love your blessing. I’ll hold onto that and send the same back your way. the best to you ~ Sam

  4. I don’t obsess about my weight or my looks any more. It has tapered off within the last two years. I think the dreaded unspeakable menopause has fixed me! The last time I cared less like this was when I was ten years old, before hormones kicked in. It’s really great not to care, it has been a long long hungry road to now.

    1. I am sooooo looking forward to menopause! really I am!!! It shall cure a lot for me, I thinkenth! Yes, me too. I didn’t care until 7th grade, when everyone started making fun of my clothes, hair, teeth and hygeine…. blahhhh Love the thought of a long hungry road… that is how it feels. 🙂 hugs, Sam

    1. that surprises me….. really, you think so? I’ll have to ponder that. I’ve told a few others, and shall tell you, too. As soon as I get back to reading blogs, look forward to visiting yours. If ever there is a post you want to share with me, please private message me in facebook. I really do appreciate you and your energy. blessings and light and love ~ Sam

      1. No, I don’t think that the average person obsesses the way we do about such things. I think some of us have a painful super sensitivity that magnifies what is a normal human response. The phenomenon reminds me of the glare of sunlight after I’ve had my pupils dilated for an eye exam. I can’t see clearly and the light is blinding and frightening in its brightness, engulfing me from everywhere. I manage to drive, but my vision is warped and nothing is clear to me. That’s the way super sensitive people function. I relate to the way you describe your responses to everyday situations that other people manage to handle with such careless aplomb. I resist the notion that Aspies are abnormal or that you have a disability. Obviously, it fuels your kindness and intuition and enhances your intellect and your ability to articulate your experiences. I did not intend to dismiss the extraordinarily unique response of an Aspie by describing it as a universal response. The emotions are universal. The responses are very different.
        Come by for a visit any time you think of it. I have the same problem. I think about many of my friends here, but time and the tides get in the way! Love and blessings to you, dear Sam!

      2. I just LOVE your response and it all makes perfect sense… plus I just had my eyes dialated last week, after 2.5 years of no eye doctor appointment, so could really picture that. 🙂 thanks so much. hugs and love.

  5. Thank you Sam for being so generous with your experiences and having the ability to write your experiences with such clarity. I have the exact same confusions constantly analysing how I look and come accross to others because in actual fact I have no idea what I look like or how I present to the world. And it can eat me up as all I want is to feel is part of the world and ‘in the know’ like everyone else seems to be. I also share the same outlook as you when it comes to others and what I notice or dont notice and how someone looks is certainly not important at all and never has been. But its always such a shock to me how many people place such importance on how we look. Im sure outwardly to others that dont know me I seem to place importance on it but it goes way beyond the normal concerns of hollywood and the ideal. Its a true journey to see and find where my body fits in space and how to cope with such a separation of myself and my body. Perhaps thats why we dont recognise ourselves and can look so fastly different everytime we try to see because (for what ever reason) our bodies arnet natural to us. They are foreign and we tend to analyse anything we dont understand… which adds to the confusion. I think numbers are a constant and security…something we try to count on when our appearance seems invisible.
    Anyway….everyone will agree with me when I say your inner beauty always shines through every post and comment and as for the shell you are occupying…..its gorgeous!

    1. You have to remind me on Facebook again what your other name is beyond Bubbles… :))) analyze anything we don’t understand… YES! that is a lot of my challenge, because in essence nothing is understandable, only a perception often that transitions with time. Yes, numbers are constant and security. I get that. Thank you for your sweet words. I will try to hold onto that, at least for the next ten minutes or so, until I look in the mirror and think “Who is that person?” Hugs and love ~ Sam

  6. Hello! First post here! So you already know you feel better when you eat vegan, if I got it right? That’s a start! Maybe some day you’ll stop craving for other things?! :O I’ve become a grain-free with-as-much-raw-as-I-can-get vegan lately and it helps for the weight! 🙂 When I feel like having “unappropriate” food (according to raw veganism) I turn to chocolate or tofu based stuff or rice based deserts… Or brown rice/rice noodles/quinoa with gluten free soy sauce! 😀 Plain potatoes with just salt is one of my fav too… Does it hurt when you eat rice or potatoes too? Sorry, I’m just curious… i’ll be starting a natoropathy class this very saturday and I’m already pondering – if I ever get through my three years class – on the possibility of writing an end of class report on “food, naturopathy and autism” or something like that (as a self-diagnosed aspie – to be officially diagnosed someday I hope).

    1. I think I eat a lot like you for the most part. Just more soups and such. But you listed a lot of how I eat already… except when holidays come round. I love potatoes, and yams, and root veggies. I usuallly eat a big salad. Dairy is the thing I’ve had a hard time given up. It replaces meat for me in many ways. I am having less and less of it though. Almond milk and such. Love my cheese though….. sigh… and replacements make me sick to my tummy and gag. Would love any links to your works. If we aren’t friends on facebook feel free to friend me… if we are…sorry, my memory for name is lacking some. Thank you for your comment; your time and effort mean a lot. 🙂 Sam

  7. Hi Sam, I am new to commenting but have loved reading . I have to say you may never find the answers from the outside world but maybe the search for the answers is soothing? The answers to your anxieties are inside you as your post clearly shows. I will say this as I have grown older ( 54 yrs. old 5’3″ 148 lb. ) I have become much more comfortable with my body . Age does help with acceptance. It could be that as we age other issues such as dwelling more on a healthy mature body replaces the issues of outside body image . I now deal more on health and how I physically feel . But mentally that is another issue for me ,one I fear I will constantly struggle with. However yesterday was a big break through in that area as I finished my last Drs. session ( my husband went with me for this one ) and I was diagnosed with Aspergers . It is a relief in some ways as is it now answers many questions ( stuggles ) that I have carried with me all my life. Your blog has been a big help. I read and think yes that view point or experience makes perfect sense to me. So BIG thanks and keep writing. We support you Sam!! -Julie

    1. I am looking forward to this acceptance stage that many women in their 50’s speak of 🙂 Thank you for sharing. Some days for me are better than others. Congratulations on finishing your last Dr. appointment! That is a milestone, for certain. I am so pleased to hear I could help in someway. Feel free to friend me on facebook; the link is to the side of this blog. Thank you for this “We support you Sam.” I can feel that, and it is healing to me. Blessings ~ Sam

  8. Okay, for the next few hours, please bask in the knowledge that I think you are lovely. As for the scales, you can always set it at 139 and then break it… 🙂
    My lovely blog sister – you are special,
    Scott

    1. You are just a big bear with so much love to offer…. catch me up on that dating search…. Yours will be the first blog I visit, when I am soon to get back up on my blog-reading horse. Thanks for the smile. I shall call you Teddy 🙂 hugs ~ Sam

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