This year my Valentine’s Day is bursting with every possible love a girl can dream of. I am blessed with the most amazing parents, who did the impossible to make sure I was always healthy and happy, the best siblings that will always be my ride or die homies, in-laws who became family, friends who have stuck by me through thick and thin (figuratively and literally), my beautiful boys who turned me into one of those obsessively (proud) bragging moms constantly posting on every social media platform, and my rock, my everything, my reason to believe and the meaning behind every love song I hear, my husband. But this year I have been working on a different kind of love; a love I have been missing all my life, one that I battled with for many years, it was my ultimate kryptonite. I am learning to love myself.
The past couple of months I have been obsessed with Justin Bieber’s song “Love Yourself” (please don’t judge me) and although he meant it as a diss, it ironically spoke to a side of me I was never able to reason with. For as long as I can remember I always felt not worthy of love. I felt “damaged” and fat. I was set up for Diabulimia.
My life has always been an open book, I believe that everyone makes mistakes and it’s the lessons we learn from them that shape us (pun intended). But this topic is different. I have a lot of feelings attached to it; anger, shame, frustration, embarrassment and resentment to name a few. One of the reasons I find it hard to talk about it is because I was raised with a “don’t make excuses, show results” mentality. That stands true for many things in life, but not in this scenario. Nothing makes me more frustrated than seeing all the “before and after” weight loss success stories. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy for their success and am all for healthy living and lifestyle, but it does not show the whole “real” picture. It doesn’t show the journey it took to achieve the results. The other reason it was hard for me to talk about it is, to explain the whole situation accurately I had to explain the complexity of my disease(s), which I generally down played. The last thing I want(ed) is a pity party.
Over the years, my weight has always been a rollercoaster ride. I was always working hard to lose weight. After my PCOS diagnosis things just got worse. I don’t remember a single time in my life when my weight was not consuming the most space in my brain. I was always outgoing, bubbly and confident in front of people but deep inside I was my worst critic. I never felt that I was worthy of love, because I was fat. I never enjoyed the activities I did because “my fat jiggled”. I hated taking pictures because; well we know what the camera does. And God forbid I wore white. It was eating me up inside and I wanted to do something about it. I was tired of working so hard in vain. I needed results. That’s when I remembered the weight loss phase I went through before I was diagnosed. It was simple biology, no insulin = weight loss, that was when everything spiraled out of control. Ironically, that is when I got my “after” weight loss picture. Everybody was commending me for “looking amazing”. I started withholding insulin from myself to lose weight. My a1c skyrocketed to 13.1. I was in severe DKA 3 times, once so severe the doctor had told my parents I was going into cardiac arrest. I was in a hypo coma for 5 days at 78 mg/dl because my threshold was so high. Needless to say I felt far from amazing physically. I had Diabulimia, an eating disorder were a T1D deprives them-self from insulin to lose weight. People started telling me how glad they were that I had lost weight because they were concerned for my health. What they didn’t know was I was worse then than I ever was. But I didn’t care; I was skinny. I fit in with the image that society and the media dictate what a woman should look like.
As the years went by I found my true love, a supportive T1D community and learnt to appreciate all the blessings in my life. I learnt to love my body and myself. Although when I look at myself in the mirror, I am the heaviest I have ever been, my body looks like road kill but I am more comfortable in my skin than I ever was. I learnt to love the body that keeps me alive every day, the body that carried 2 healthy full-term babies (when a human body was intended to carry one), and the body that allows me to live life to the max. I will not deny that every time I see a before and after picture (especially post baby pictures) I consider going back to my old ways, but them I remember all the love I have in my life and the people I would be letting down. My husband and boys deserve a healthy wife and mom around. While I know many people who fit in their pre-pregnancy clothes a few weeks postpartum, here I am proud and ecstatic to have ditched my maternity clothes 1 year later. I am healthier than I have ever been with an a1c of 6.2 and no signs of any T1D complications. I am still working hard everyday to get to my healthy “after” picture with a different story behind it this time!
To all the people struggling to lose weight or love themselves remember you are worthy of love and it’s not all about the results. Celebrate your journey and keep pushing forward! For now I will not worry about my “after” photo. Today, I spent the day celebrating all the love in my life with my family and taking “now” pictures.
Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! Love your signifiant other, family, friends, health and mostly, YOURSELF!