Tuesday, March 15, 2011

My story 27 years in the making

Happy Tuesday all!!

          Hope you had a great weekend. I was geeking it up this weekend for my exam that was on Sunday. The exam was easier than I thought it was going to be so that was nice:) I feel so free now, a natural high! Just in time for my birthday week:) Ha! Well my birthday is today but I'm celebrating all the rest of the week too! You have to do that when your birthday falls mid-week, right?

I don't have any crazy plans for tonight. Might just go out for dinner and have a couple glasses of wine:) A good friend of mine has his birthday tomorrow so we might be planning a joint venture for the weekend. Should be great times either way!

I've had this tug on my heart that I should tell you my story of where I came from and how I've evolved. Including a huge realization that came to me only yesterday!!!

The beginning

I was born on March 15, 1984 in Vancouver, BC. At 6 months of age my mom packed up her life and moved us to Penticton, BC. This is the place I call home. I was fortunate enough to have many family members close by and that meant oodles of cousins to play with since I didn't have any other siblings at home.

Me with my cuz!

Another cuz! We were very close and always got into trouble played together

I was a beach lover from the start:)

And this was where my love for sugar began....

Give me more!!!

Crash and burn!!

My aunt also ran a daycare so my mom and I would visit often and it was awesome to have a ton of play buddies.Since the cousins close to my age were boys I tended to join in more cops and robbers, tree climbing, and fort building adventures than playing with barbies.

But one thing was clear, I loved animals and would hang out with them any time I got.

I swear I saw an adult version of my dress at Betsy Johnson on Sunday:)

For those of you who don't know my story, I have never met me dad. He doesn't know I exist actually. I never asked about him when I was growing up or wondered why other people had Dads and not me. I was content and was loved by so many family members that I never felt a void.  I do want to find him eventually but I've held off because it's not an easy thing to tell someone straight up that they have a child they never knew about. I don't want anything from him, just for him to know that I'm out there. One day!

My mom, grandma, and me! Three generations:)

As I got older and became more aware of my mom and her struggle with chronic pain, I tried to take on some of the stress that seemed to plague her. I turned my feelings inward and tried everything to make the pain go away for her. Instead of showing love, I tried to be a logical, protective 8 year old. My stress had become so bad that we had to move out of our low-income housing. I had not only taken on the health stress that my mom faced daily, but also the financial. I felt judged on so many levels and saw the whole world pointing its finger at me and seeing me as "poor." It was then that we moved and my mom enrolled me in a program called Big Brothers and Big Sisters. My world was forever changed. I was able to experience things that my mom wasn't able too physically and financially. Annette had a hobby farm with a bunch of horses and a couple bassett hounds. It was heaven visiting her place! She even had some contacts and was able to get me some riding lessons!

It was lots of fun but my trainer was very serious!
Yet being on a horse with the wind in your hair felt amazing!

She took her niece and I to Disneyland too!

Life kept going! I got older and at the same time my self worth declined. I began being hard on myself and comparing my body and looks to other women that I considered prettier than myself. I found one picture in a magazine of this girl who I thought looked amazing in these designer jeans and that was the tipping point.

My last year of high school and the first year of university were some of the saddest times of my life. I totally withdrew from the people are me. I broke the heart of my high school boyfriend, stopped hanging out with friends when it involved food, hid and threw away food, exercised excessively, and stopped going to family dinners. It was a very lonely and exhausting time for me.

I never got dangerously thin but I was getting there. When I finally gave in and started eating something besides dried fruit and wine gums, I became angry. I thought I was failing myself. This led to entering a relationship that was severely controlling yet somehow supportive in my struggle, at least in the beginning.

I went through a hard adjustment period where I went from severe deprivation to overindulging. The same out of control behavior but in the opposite direction. I began to soothe my worries with food and this created a very powerful bad, emotional habit.

I was in my third year of university when I split up with Mr.Controller and he had me so wrapped around his little finger that he basically convinced me to get back together with him. After a month or so I finally came to my senses and left for good. It was very hard as we attended the same small university and even commuted together for awhile after we broke up. Let's just say it was a confusing time for me. He helped me to eat somewhat normally again but in an instant he could tear my self esteem apart with his words.

With time I gained the confidence to ignore him and not feel guilty. But I did this by drinking and partying a lot more than usual. I wasn't going completely party crazy but I felt free and partying made me forget everything that had happened over the past 6 months.

It was during my 4th year university that I met Ryan right smack in the middle of the party phase. I was getting a better grip on my eating and figuring out how to eat in a balanced way.

Ryan's first visit to Kelowna where I was living and attending UBC Okanagan

I moved to the coast after dating 1.5 years long distance. I finished up the remaining art credits online and finally graduated in 2007 with BSc. in biology.

Life was pretty good after I graduated . I found a descent job, lived near a vibrant downtown, and my relationship was becoming pretty serious.

Then this....

We got engaged on September 1st 2007 and then August 30th 2008 we got hitched

After we got married there was another adjustment period and times were rocky for awhile. Eventually we both adapted and learned a few things about ourselves along the way.

I became vegetarian in October 2008 and found myself withdrawing like I did when I was suffering from my disordered eating. I didn't want the questions or the looks when I had to explain to others that I didn't eat this or that. I basically was afraid to be myself and thought others wouldn't accept me.

I really struggled with my fears and shed a ton of tears because of it. I truly thought I couldn't be different.  Again I slowly came out of my shell and began joining friends in situations that involved food. I learned how to respond kindly to questions or reactions.
I had never felt more free than when I stopped resisting who I was!!

My bestie and me on a lake near Edmonton Alberta in March

We bought a house, Ry went to school, and work chugged on. My confidence levels were pretty high during this time and life was good. Once we returned from the Nelson, BC where Ry went to school, there was this shift that started out slowly but has built. I began focusing on my weight and how I looked in the mirror. I was disappointed and saw every flaw possible.Yet, I knew that going the deprivation route was not going to happen, I wouldn't allow it. So, I ate more to soothe my emotions which has led to where I am now. This vicious cycle where the mirror looks okay one day, another day not so much.
Always telling myself I didn't look good enough.

Then yesterday I received three separate emails that basically said the same thing.
 It was like a slap in the face, an instant wake up call.

"When we tell ourselves that we are a certain way, we synergistically do things to keep ourselves in that box in both negative and positive ways. Our body will believe ANYTHING we tell it. So someone who tells herself: “I cannot lose the fat on my stomach” will also do things to fulfill that prophecy." Jenna Phillips

This is me to a T! When I read Jenna's words it hit home big time.
I had fallen out of love with MYSELF. I had separated my body from my mind and made it seem like that was another person staring back at me in the mirror. I judged like no tomorrow. Yet I kept myself in this place for some reason.

After reading those three emails I felt lighter, like a weight had been lifted off my shoulder and the pressure was off. I had my weight on my mind so often that I wasn't enjoying life like it should be enjoyed. After witnessing the tragedy in Japan I felt embarrassed that I was focused on something so minuscule in this life.

I feel like this was a huge turning point for me! Life changing for sure:) 

So there's my story in a nutshell:) Hope you didn't mind such a long read:)
Have you ever read something or seen something that caused an ah-ha moment? 
Have a wonderful day everyone! I'm off to get my sweat on and then it's dinner. I'm thinking Indian:)


bitt said...

Thank you for sharing so honestly and openly. I love the pictures of different phases of your life. Especially the cute truck just married one.

It can be really hard to learn that self-love we are "supposed" to have. I've learned that I might not LOVE my body, but I don't have to hate it either. Depends on the head space though. Today I looked in the mirror and was upset with some blemishes. It's hard not to feel perfect.

Nelly said...

hi my sweet sweet birthday girl...and yes it's your birthday ALL WEEK!

happy belated birthday...

thank you so much for this lovely and beautiful post...i loved reading about you and seeing those amazing childhood pictures and hearing about your memories...made me smile...

one thing i noticed in every picture is that you are such a beautiful lady...your smile can melt away even the coldest of hearts...you are so beautiful melissa!!! please don't ever forget that...

i am like you. i hate what i see in the mirror...always have...and i hope i won't always be this way...but at 34, i don't know if there is hope for me. it is such a sad sad state...but i am definitely trying to love myself more...

i agree with jenna...our body will believe anything we tell it...i believe that if we look in the mirror and just say...wow, you're beautiful...or pretty, or strong...graceful...we will see all of those things...so when i look in the mirror and i say...god, you're fat...or ugly today...my body and my self believes this...and i have such a bad day because of it...but when i look in the mirror and i say...you know, you're not so bad...you look good today...i believe it, and i have such a beautiful day...we make or break our days...and we are who we tell ourselves to be...power of positive thinking is an amazing thing...

anyhoo...have a beautiful birthday week my girl...and i am sending you big big hugs.


p.s. you and ry are amazing together...thanks for sharing your life...

HiHoRosie said...

you're beautiful Melissa - inside and out and I really appreciated reading your story. While I don't have the same story I can relate to many things you experienced/felt. When I look in the mirror I see many flaws - flaws i'm in control of. I'm slowly working on them but I also don't feel discouraged or depressed about them, or at least most days - when I do I try to use that as my motivation to do something about it. I have the power, the knowledge so I take that as encouragement I can make postive changes and be happy (comfortable) with who I am. I loved your post today because I find it inspiring and motivating to give me the boost I need from time to time.

Laury @The FitnessDish said...

What a beautiful story for such a beautiful girl!

LOVE all the pics, so cute. I have a pic of my cousin holding me as a baby too! he actually looks like your cousin, haha. You were so adorable in that dress with the puppy.

Thank you for sharing your story, Melissa. We all see flaws when we look in the mirror. The key is to not let it consume you and let it take over. You are amazing, don't even forget that! You are unique, and that is what makes you so beautiful. There is only one of you! I am sure that is what your husband loves so much, that you are one of a kind and so special!

kelli said...

happy birthday, melissa! you were an adorable baby/child, and are a a gorgeous woman! you are not alone in struggling with body image. i go through similar cycles, and can relate with what you said about the jeans ad. i went through a phase where i could not even watch tvs or movies without feeling insanely jealous of the women on the screen. it was a horrible feeling, comparing myself and wishing i looked different. it wasn't until recently i accepted that this is how i am supposed to look... and i may as well just embrace it. as i grow older and wiser i am realizing the prettiest women are not always the ones that have "perfect" bodies or faces, but are the ones who exude beauty from the inside out, which you surely do.=)

amazing how emails/messages come to us when we need them most, eh?=)

and i love that your big sis played such a positive role in your life. you're inspiring me to be a better big sis!


Melissa said...

Hey Bitt - That's one of my favorite wedding picts:) That truck is Ryan's other love haha! The pressure is insane..from ourselves, media, people in your life. I realise now that I was adding to the fire and getting so wrapped up in it. I really just need to step back and enjoy this life and tell myself that I'm awesome!

Hey Nelly - Awe girl you make me blush:) Thank you for all your kind words. When you said we make or break our day..so true. I had a moment this morning where the negative self talk was flowing freely. I said to myself " really? you are going to beat yourself up at 6:45 in the morning? Then I felt better and stronger:) I love hearing about other people's experiences so I thought I would share my own:) Glad you enjoyed it!

Hey Heidi - I so wish I could make that switch of not seeing what I like to that becoming motivation. I do to some extent but I've got to break the self-sabotage! Glad you enjoyed my story!

Hey Laury - You are right! The key IS to not let it consume me. Thank you for your perspective doll! And your kind words were so thoughtful.Thanks again!

Hey Kelli - Yes, media is insanely powerful. I am trying to just involve positive media into my life and I do have that with my online stuff but out in public or on tv it's in your face. I feel like there is this insanely powerful women in me that I'm hiding from because I feel my body isn't good enough..but really it shouldn't matter. Thanks hun for your perspective!!
Yes, it was a sure sign from above that I needed to see that message:)
YAY!! Yes, my Big Sister really helped to shape my life as I know you are shaping your littles!!

HiHoRosie said...

There's a blog award waiting for you. :) http://hihorosie.blogspot.com/2011/03/fun-blog-awards-and-meme.html

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing, I feel like I know you better and haven't even met you! ;-)


(what runs) Lori said...

Oh my gosh! HOW FUN. You're so beautiful and it was fun "getting to know you" this way. I feel like a lot of us bloggers have the same kind of disordered eating past. And our blogs help us sort through all that crap. Hopefully.

evergreen said...

Happy (belated) Birthday! Thanks for sharing your inspiring story, and great family pics with us. You are truly a beautiful person:)