I first met Tasha when I visited Under Armour headquarters a couple of years ago, and we were ambassadors together and roommates. She has become a wonderful and inspirational friend who is very dear to me, and I am honored to have her guest post today. She has an amazing story of overcoming shame, guilt, and anorexia that she is sharing here today. I hope you will read it, it’s worth it!
Shame, as defined by vocabulary.com, is “a painful emotion resulting from an awareness of inadequacy or guilt.” In my life, it defined an entire period of my life, a darkness, a private hell that I lived in and out of for far too long. With my daughter just turning twelve last week, memories of how my life came crashing idem, all over my weight, shortly after her birth came flooding back. I decided, now, more than ever as she enters a very delicate period in her own development, to really acknowledge how I got there, how I can deal with any remnants of what was and make to decision about walking in freedom about my body and my weight and being a worthy example for her to follow.
Six months before I became pregnant with my daughter, I had just successfully lost a little over forty pounds. I had been dating a man for a little over a year and had gotten “comfortable” and had ended up getting very close to two hundred pounds again, something I promised myself I would not do. I had gotten a membership at the local YMCA, cleaned up my diet and was really really proud about being under 160 pounds, a weight I had not seen since my first year of college. Within a month of reaching a healthy weight, my boyfriend proposed and we were married three months later. I became pregnant three months after that. All of the quick changes (not just getting married but losing my job, going through a custody battle over my oldest child and moving to a different city) made gaining fifteen pounds SUPER easy. I felt “happy” but out of control. So many people were inspired by the changes I had made and I was now feeling as if I was letting them down. That guilt on top of the guilt of being put on a diet by my doctor for gaining too much weight (as a pregnant woman) on top of no longer having a job on top of feeling bad for being “vain” about my body when I was supposed to be taking care of myself to bring another life into the world. The weight of it all was super heavy on my shoulders.
When I gave birth, I became obsessed with losing the weight. I wouldn’t go visit family and friends because I was ashamed of what I had become, or in my mind, become “again.” On top of severe post partum depression (which I’m sure was affected by the way I felt about myself), I exercised excessively. I battled my second round of anorexia. I rarely slept. I almost killed myself. I felt trapped, again, all because of a number on a scale. It’s amazing how trying to be what we think is acceptable to others will destroy us.
I have battled the same thing since entering the fitness profession some eleven years ago. Shame is what led me to a binge eating disorder. I was a yoga teacher. How does a yoga teacher explain to her students that her emotions are our of control and she is ashamed of her body when she is telling them to breathe and love themselves? I shoved brownies down my throat before class in the corner of the parking lot where no one could see, cried for ten minutes and then went to play the role. That’s what shame does to us. We play roles to feel “accepted” and hide from who we really are. When I came to terms with who I really was and that it was o.k. that I was super small or that I didn’t dress a certain way or that I wasn’t a runner and that who I was indeed was ENOUGH, my battle with shame became less and less and less and while I still struggled (honestly, struggle) with body image from time to time, I no longer hide from people or the issue. When I feel that way, I get to the root of the issue and not just accept it as before. I have not only had to change my thinking but there are times I had to change environments, friends, who I was following on social media, where I was shopping and what I watching on television. If it made me second guess myself, it had to go.
Shame is hard. Suffering is hard. Silence is hard. It secretly kills. If you are in a shame cycle,may I encourage you with these words: you ARE enough. Shame attacks us when we feel inadequate. You are more than capable and more than worthy. When we believe in our own worth and power, shame dissolves. When shame dissolves, we can see who we really are and go from there. There is nothing wrong with self improvement. We just can’t become undone trying to undo who we truly are. Be encouraged. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.
QOTD: Can you relate to Tasha at a time in your life? How did you overcome these feelings?