On Day 1 of Beautiful You, Rosie talks about what inspired her to start journaling: Harriet the Spy, the Nickelodeon kids show with Michelle Trachtenberg as Harriet. She says, “Through journaling, I got to know myself.”
A little over 17 years ago, I created an online journal on a site called Free Open Diary and began journaling. I’d had paper journals over the years but with a nosy mother, grandmother, and little brothers, they never lasted. I started this journal on Free Open Diary to lament about my weight (a lifelong lament) and the unrequited love over a boy I am now so unbelievably glad left me in the friend zone.
I began to write about my family. At the time, Mama was married to her second ex-husband Tim who would call me when they had a fight and tell me to drive the three hours home to Montgomery from college in Mobile to get my mom before he killed her. Daddy lived just north of Montgomery with Adam, who was about to finish high school and go off to college in Auburn, and Ben and Caleb, who were in middle school. June, Lib, and Brophy were still alive and June called me almost daily to check on me and let me know what was happening on The Young and the Restless even though I barely ever watched the soap opera and didn’t really care if Nikki and Victor were finally done for real.
And as Rosie says in this first page of her book, I began to see the patterns in my life through journaling. I continued this path of self-awareness (and recording the crazy shit that happened with my family so I knew later on that I did not make it up) for the next 17 years. The journaling/blogging slowed down when I met John because I finally had something I selfishly wanted to keep to myself.
Funny enough, I would not have ever even met John if it weren’t for journaling. I started a LiveJournal (oh, blessed LJ) in July 2003 and it was on LJ that I met John’s younger sister Sara. She told me years ago she had a brother who was two days older than me and I knew about him and his life from her perspective, but it was when I went to Savannah to spend the weekend with her for the Fourth of July in July 2011 that I actually met John.
A lot of my life would not be where it is today without LiveJournal. I would not be the person I am today without all of the introspective thinking and writing I did, and it was through LiveJournal that I met, in person, my friends Holly, Liz N., Liz W., Sara, and Marianna. The others I have yet to meet – Erika, Erin, Amy, and MaryEllen – but I still keep in touch with them via social media.
Journaling, blogging, whatever you want to call it, is why I am the person I am today and why I am still alive today. When people hear my story and ask me, “How are you so normal?” I first of all ask them to define normal (because uh…) and then say because of my grandmother June and because of journaling.
So Rosie does not have to sell me onto the idea of journaling because I have been there over half of my life, haha.
So onto the writing assignment for today: Open your “Beautiful You” journal and consider these questions: What are your hopes – personally and for the world – with regard to body image and self-acceptance? How can you begin to live your hopes today?
My hope is that I – and everyone else struggling with their body image – can accept that my body size does not determine my worth, acceptance, or beauty. That being fat is not a horrible thing. That I am worth loving right now just as I am and there is never a moment where I am not loved and not worth being loved.
I hope to have days that are not good or bad based on what a number on the scale says, how my clothes fit (or don’t), how many calories I ate, whether I exercised or not, drank “enough” water or not, or whether I am bloated or not.
I hope to stop seeing food as “good” or “bad” and myself as “good” or “bad” for having eaten said food. I hope to learn to trust my body to tell me when it is hungry and when it is satisfied and to tune into my feelings when I have them instead of trying to numb them out by using food as both a comforter and as a weapon.
I hope to figure out how intuitive eating works for the first time in my life and how to not treat it as another diet or set of restrictive rules I will inevitably rebel against.
I hope to enjoy activities like dancing, walking, swimming, and maybe even running without seeing them as a means of penance against what I ate that day. I hope to feel freer in my body to dance in front of John or just my mirror and enjoy how I move and how I look, rolls, wrinkles, cellulite and all.
I hope to stop putting off things in my life “until…,” whatever that means. Until I’m thin, which I may never be. I hope to be okay with this.
I hope to stop beating myself up and stop talking shit about myself and my body because it is so deeply ingrained in me to find my body wrong as it is because that’s all I was ever told growing up, that I was too big, too tall, too broad-shouldered and not feminine enough with my small breasts, flat butt, and lack of curves.
I hope to stop being so self-deprecating especially in front of the people who love me so dearly just as I am, like John. I keep expecting him to talk shit about me because all of the men I grew up around did and yet, he never does, but I still think he secretly finds me disgusting at this size, so I just use the ‘ol defense mechanism and initiate the shit-talking like I am giving him a window to do it himself. Instead, he says, “Amy, your weight is not a problem for me, but it is obviously a problem for you so if you feel bad about it, then do something about it. I love you just the way you are, no matter what.”
I hope to learn how to treat myself with the grace, compassion, mercy, and forgiveness I do a much better job treating everyone else with.
I hope to give myself a break because life is hard enough as it is without me being so cruel to myself on top of it all.
So…how can I begin to live my hopes today?
This morning, I looked at myself naked in the mirror. I do this every day anyway, but today, I did it and said, “Amy, this is your body right now. This is it. How about you start getting to know it today? Actually see it? Stop seeing the body you want in all of the before/after pics you get so entrenched in in the middle of the night when you can’t sleep and look at what you have right now. Hating yourself for 36 years hasn’t worked out so well, has it? You don’t have to love yourself right now, but how about we call a truce? Let’s try just being neutral. Just see your body as is and go on with your day.”
I decided that was as good a start as any.