I have a headache after spending an hour sprawled out in bed, on vacation, crying and trying to figure out what’s wrong with me. Seriously, what is wrong with me? I’m in Spain, in one of my favorite countries in the world, with some of my favorite people and yet here I am. Alone. Feeling lonely.
I have to give some credit to my mom when she said, “it doesn’t matter how far away you run from your problems, they’ll always catch up to you. You can’t run from yourself.” Have I tried running away from myself? Somewhat. I truly do believe I have, in a way, but in another, I can’t deny that this past year has been the most insightful.
I’m body shaming myself again. I realized that yesterday. I couldn’t help it as I was walking down the streets of San Sebastián. All these women around me so young and skinny, when I myself feel like a blob. It drives me crazy when women around me, so beautiful, go on about how much weight they need to lose and where they need to lose it. I hate it because they say it, and I’m sitting there, younger than them with more to lose. I thought this year had made me proud of my body, but I became good at making the problem look pretty. I know this weight issue is something I can change. It’s a mental block, but I know the phrase that gets to me every time.
It doesn’t matter Veronica. Even when you were a competitive swimmer, at the peak of your health and the best weight, you were fat and people told you so.
I honestly think my problem started there. I seriously can’t remember a time in my life when people didn’t tell me how much I needed to lose. But what changed from November, when I wrote my piece Becoming a Woman, to now? Why did I feel so comfortable then and why do I not now?
I also feel like a failure. I left my host family two weeks before my contract ended. I can give you a highlight:
- I was not invited to the little girl’s 5th birthday party.
- Host dad yelled through the phone “fuck you! You fucking Americans!”
- The whole year I had been talked down to, about myself and my cultures.
I don’t want to go into too much detail, this post would change from my intentions. After talking to my agency and revealing how scared I was to actually go into work, in less than 16 hours I packed and moved out. I didn’t get to say goodbye to the little girl, the part that kills me the most. I adored her, and that’s where my feelings of possibly guilt and failure come from.
Would 5 year old me be proud of myself? It’s a question I always come back to. Then I thought… Would I talk to 5 year old me the way I talk to myself now?
When I was 5, I would put on my costumes with my friends and I remember looking in the mirror thinking we were the prettiest girls. I don’t ever remember comparing whether my thighs were bigger in my dress than hers. Ever. She and I could conquer the world with our crowns, no matter what happened. I remember looking up at my mom and thinking she was the most beautiful woman in the world (I still do), and how much I hoped to be just like her when I grew up.
Then there came a point when society started leaking into my head. I needed to look differently. It started in 4th grade when Brittney made fun of my incoming boobs for jiggling in P.E. Voilà, the beginning of what has become the past decade.
I haven’t been nice to myself. I’m just going to be honest. I’ve dissected every inch of my body, head to toe, and I know what needs to change. I’ve talked myself down, but I wasn’t always that way.
If I was in a room with myself at 5, there’s no way on earth I would tell her what she needs to change. There’s no way I would beat her down and tell her she’s not worthy. I would tell her she’s beautiful, and she needs to take care of her mind. Never compare herself to others. I would tell her to pay attention to her thoughts and what she tells herself, they become your reality. I would hug her and show her affection. These are things I have not done for myself in a while.
Have I truly failed with my host family? No, not really. I started putting my foot down in how I felt I should be treated, and they didn’t like it. They expected a 19 year old they could manipulate and who would depend on them. I wasn’t that and I’m proud of it.
Have I failed myself? In a way, yes, but can I reverse it? Definitely. From this moment on, I want to nourish my mind and body. I went to my first yoga class ever on Monday and I felt relaxed when I left. I’ve started focusing on the foods that I’ve been putting into my body. I want to feel healthy, something I haven’t felt in a while. But most of all, I want to speak to myself as if I were 5 again. I want to look in the mirror and know I feel beautiful and I can take on the world. I want to speak to myself the way I want to speak to my daughter.
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