I got a huge, massive slap of reality today. And I mean slap.
I've said before: I look in the mirror. I see the same me I saw at 178 pounds. I don't generally see the weight gain. I have the same pants on I wore in the 180's. I haven't changed much, in my brain. Even though the scale says differently, to the tune of about 30 pounds.
That changed today.
I think I must have trick mirrors at home. Or maybe it's the dim lighting in the bedroom, or the way there are boxes in front of the fully-mirrored closet doors, or the fact that I wear sort of loose clothing and don't stand too close to the mirrors. Maybe it's because I don't look for too long. I don't *really* look.
I looked today.
I have an event to attend where I need to be nicely dressed. I'm not a frequent churchgoer and I don't have an office job, nor do I go out to fancy events much. I dress simply, in jeans and tees or sweaters for the most part. But for this, I needed a nice dress. And since I had to shop, I decided to go ahead and buy myself ONE pair of jeans that actually fit. Because, you know that one pair of 14's I have been wearing forever? The only pair of jeans/pants I have that fits? Well the other day I saw something I haven't seen in a long, long time: light shining through the fabric in the thighs of my pants! Gah! It was a bit distressing when I first noticed them getting threadbare between the legs. It sent me into flashbacks of those darned black stretch pants I used to wear and how the inner thighs would rub, rub, rub away the fabric until I was walking around with holes in my pants. I am not about to wear holey jeans, so I figured I had to cave and buy a pair to wear until I got some of this weight back off.
I went into the store. I was looking through the clothes, and felt oddly calm even though I had no idea what size I should try on. I remembered how when I went shopping several months ago, I'd always end up in the changing room gasping in disbelief that the skinny-looking clothes actually fit MY body. It was exciting! So today I felt almost confident as I grabbed the 12's and 14's, and one pair of 16's (just to make myself feel skinny when I tried them on and they were falling off me). I went to try them on, along with some dresses in the same range of sizes. I was so excited to see how they fit!
I was floored. FLOORED. I have seriously been in body size denial. I KNOW what I weigh. I DO look in the mirror. I KNOW I gained some weight back. But... but...
I started with the jeans. I tried on the 14's first and was quickly shocked that I could not even get them buttoned. I mean, I had a good 2 inches before they would have buttoned! They were super tight. There was no way. I peeled them off and set them aside along with the 12's that I would not even torture myself trying on. All that was left was those 16's. And you know what? They were tight. TIGHT. As in, I looked very fat in them. And you can be sure I looked. I took it all in, in those triple mirrors and blaring lighting that hides nothing. In a very small dressing room where I could not get far from the mirrors. In the store, all by myself, I was whispering "I cannot believe this, this cannot be real, how could this be, oh my gosh..." and putting my face in my hands. Yes, I was distressed. It was SHOCKING. I mean really shocking because the image I have of myself in my head is NOTHING like what I saw in those mirrors today. The bulges, the rolls that were simply NOT THERE a few months ago. The size 16's, skin tight. The pretty blouse I tried on with them that accentuated every bump and lump. Yes, lump. I had CURVES before and now I have lumps and I am NOT being mean... if I had the guts to post pictures you'd see. I was embarrassed, upset, smacked back into reality.
I took off the jeans. I looked at the pile of dresses I'd brought to try on. I knew this was not going to go as I had planned. I picked out a cute 14, slid it over my head. I looked from every angle. Not even Spanx could fix this. There was no way. I almost couldn't get that dress back off it was so tight. All that was left was that size 16 dress. I put it on. It fit nicely. The bumps were there but Spanx-able, I think. I took it off and bought it, along with those size 16 jeans. At least I have something to wear.
I wish I could express how this whole thing felt to me. When I first looked in the mirror and saw, *really saw*, I felt like I must be asleep and having a nightmare. It was always a nightmare when I was 175 pounds. It was a terrible fear that I could gain it back. I looked in the mirror today and saw my nightmare coming true. It was *not* self-hate. This is *not* self-loathing. It is seeing my body as it really is right now, as it has changed from 175 pounds to back over 200... and it was very dramatic to me.
In fact, just as I was writing this I decided that I *will* take pictures of myself in those jeans. In that dress. They are not horrible. I can make them work. But I am going to take the pictures and maybe when I have lost the weight again... when I feel less sensitive and embarrassed about it... I can post them and show the difference in them and in my body when I get back to 175.
It was a moment that I won't soon forget. Those images in the mirror are burned into my memory. I *need* to keep working and not let complacency take over.
One other thing. Something else has changed. In the past, this kind of experience would make me hate myself. Before my blogging days, I had a lot of that. I'd try to lose weight, lose a little, and gain it back. On the rare occasion that I actually saw or realized how large and out of control I had gotten, I'd cry. I'd go into that self loathing mode. I would get angry at myself. I would beat myself up for letting it happen.
Today? I freaked out in the dressing room. I walked out of there, bought my jeans and dress, and came home and got excited about the event I will be attending. I smiled, I laughed, I lived. That experience with the clothes today? It gave me some much needed new insight and even more motivation to take better care of myself. But it didn't shape my day. It didn't ruin my life. It didn't make me sad for more than the ten minutes that I was in front of the mirrors. And THAT is a huge deal to me.
Self awareness is great. If you haven't gone clothes shopping and tried on clothing in a dressing room lately, I highly recommend it for a reality check! I am going to do it more often.
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