Not living

Monday, January 27, 2014 Permalink

I’ve been undecided about whether to write this post but the subject has been on my mind for a few days and I’m struggling to properly process my thoughts. Writing usually helps, so…apologies in advance for the brain dump.


I’ve come a long way over the past 30 years, recovering from an eating disorder which started at 15 and continued (in various forms) until this very day. Although thoughts of self-harm, dreams of thinness and general despair have long disappeared, I’m aware that I continue to struggle with self worth and ‘mindset’ issues.

Indeed, I’ve recently started Weight Watchers and admitted that my disordered thinking (particularly as it relates to food, my body, my weight and self-worth) still needs a lot of work.

I lay awake for many many hours on Saturday night, pondering on an unfortunate realisation – essentially that my ‘recovery from toxic thoughts, beliefs and feelings’ was less evolved than I’d thought.

I’m all for self-acceptance. I understand the concept. Indeed I most-definitely support the concept:

“I’m okay. Even if I’m overweight or unfit. Or even obese. I’m still a good and decent person worthy of love, affection and respect.”

However… I don’t walk the talk. Or whatever. My issues with self-worth continue DESPITE everything.

I’ve talked about this issue here before. A lot. The concept of self-acceptance and the concept of being ‘enough’ continue to plague me. I’ve also shared my body image issues and respect for participants in the Aussie Curves initiative, who ‘seemingly’ nonchalantly wear whatever they want, wherever they want without feeling porky or self-conscious or just wrong.

A blogging friend who seems happy in her own skin and with her life recently commented on an overweight woman dressed in a long-sleeved shirt and big pants – obviously covering up – and felt sorry for her. Cos even though my friend’s a bit overweight she flaunts what she’s got and dresses for comfort and style… and always looks great. At the time she was in a strappy dress or similar and felt cool and carefree in the summer heat. I read her words with a grimace: When I lived in the city I experienced a seething hatred for those who could wear sleeveless shirts or summery frocks to work while I simmered (literally and figuratively) in long trousers and long sleeves.

I’m hugely self-conscious about what I wear. I got caught out in little cap sleeves the other day and felt very self-conscious.

“Oh. My. God! I hope (they) realise that I KNOW I shouldn’t be wearing cap sleeves. I know my arms are too fat. Hmmm… should I say something so they know I know I shouldn’t be wearing cap sleeves.”

As I write this I know it sounds ridiculous. If it was anyone else I’d tell them to bloody well wear whatever the fuck they want. But, it’s not someone else. It’s me.


 And so I come to the weekend’s realisation (FINALLY, you’re thinking!)…

In Oz we’ve had a long weekend, so my real life and virtual friends (and complete strangers) have been out and about and busy. MANY outings involved the beach. Some were camping. Some had an endless string of parties, soirees or BBQs.

Some of these friends are overweight: some just a little and some a lot. And yet they shared pictures in which they were having fun without (seemingly) feeling self-conscious or uncomfortable.

It was the idea that others could be out in public and having fun without feeling ashamed of their weight, without having to offer explanations, without having to hide themselves or look forlorn and undeserving that shocked the hell out of me.

8252715-256-ka803c330They acted like they belonged there.

Sanity tells me they do. We all do. We deserve to exist and (mostly) do whatever the fuck we want!

And yet… I stop myself doing SO MANY THINGS because of my weight. And I’m waiting on SO MUCH until I’m a decent weight.

I LOVED seeing these people just doing things that anyone does. They wear whatever they want and dress for comfort, when I don’t even own a pair of shorts. They seem to feel worthy of partners and families, of friends and love while I feel I need to ‘change’ before that’s the case.

I know better. I know that shouldn’t be the case. But I just don’t know why I think it is.

Can you relate? At all? 
Do you not do things (go to the beach, camping, out on special occasions) because you feel uncomfortable? 


  • Lee-Anne
    January 27, 2014

    A really interesting post, Deb. I do know what you mean about being comfortable in your skin, especially when vain (like moi).
    My own teen daughter is curvy, when all her friends are thin and she hates it. I think it’s particularly hard for women now in a world that seems to value appearance – skinny with voluptuous curves is the current rage – above the more intrinsic qualities.
    I say “Bravo!” to those people cavorting on the beach oblivious to their chubbiness!
    PS: Arms are a big problem as you age… 🙂

    • Debbish
      January 27, 2014

      Yes. I’m sometimes just so hot and uncomfortable – it impacts on my willingness to do anything and yet I couldn’t wear anything sleeveless or strappy or shorts etc.

      Plus the idea of cavorting about the beach or dressing up to go out…. just more than I think I could cope with!

  • Jo Tracey
    January 27, 2014

    I’m dreadfully aware of how I look & am embarrassed about it, yet, in the last year or so, I’ve begun wearing strappy dresses again- despite the fact that my arms shouldn’t be seen. I’ve started going to the beach again. I care, but at the same time, I don’t. Having said that, I was tagged in a photo the other day where I looked shocking- & cringed every time the “like” was clicked.

    • Debbish
      January 27, 2014

      Yes, I shied away from all cameras at my mother’s birthday celebrations over the last two weekends.

      I so envy those who wear something strapless or strappy. It’s rare that I ever think ‘Oh she shouldn’t wear that!’ (And if I ever do it’s usually a ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ issue rather than about someone’s size!)

  • Pinky Poinker
    January 27, 2014

    Hi Deb! I’m going to tell you the Pinky Poinker truth. I don’t really have a weight problem except for a wobbly belly from too many calories thanks to a wine habit. My friends range in shape and size from morbidly obese to skinny. I love them all equally but here’s the thing-
    Now that I’m getting old, my arms (though relatively thin) are cottage cheesy, flabby and far too revolting to be displayed in public. I can’t wear cap sleeves anymore and I look at the firm, plump arms of my friends and think how beautiful and youthful they look. Everyone has hang ups and ninety-nine per cent of people are far more concerned about what they look like to worry about you. I bet you look gorgeous and you just don’t know it 🙂

    • Debbish
      January 27, 2014

      Hmmm…. I really don’t think so. But do agree that we’re usually more caught up in our own appearance (and stuff) than others’.

  • Emma
    January 27, 2014

    Hey Deb,
    Once, a few years ago spying a long lost friend at the airport. And I hid from her. Isn’t that awful? I had given birth to my daughter a few months before and found myself tipping the sales at close to 100kgs and I was just mortified of being seen like that. I’ve always been the chubby girl but at this time I felt far more than chubby. So yes, I can relate to letting my weight impact big things in my life. When I look back I think how stupid it was to miss out on that opportunity to catch up just because of how I felt about myself. Sad really.

    • Debbish
      January 27, 2014

      Yes, I skipped a reunion last year for similar reasons… I’ve also avoided the camera for years and years. It meant when my dad passed away (just over 2yrs ago) I had very few recent pics of him and I together.

  • Rebecca
    January 27, 2014

    I spent many years not loving life and certainly not living it so I totally relate, have you tried CBT? There are online courses that might help? I hope you can find a way to let go, honestly though I think we have to fake it till we make it sometimes.

    • Debbish
      January 27, 2014

      Yes… I need to work on the ‘faking it’ part I think. For all I know some of the people I’ve been admiring are doing just that!

  • Sharmila
    January 27, 2014

    I am not as bad as I used to be but it is still difficult to get my head around it. I am trying to focus on getting out and about and not over think it (as Rebecca said … try to fake it till I make it). Will be a challenge tho.

    • Debbish
      January 27, 2014

      Yes. Perhaps I need to buy myself a cooler shirt and wear it – or even wear my cap sleeved shirt in public on these bloody hot days… and tell myself that I’m allowed to wear it and deserve to be cool. Despite everything…


  • KCLAnderson (Karen)
    January 27, 2014

    I definitely used to be that way…and so I can definitely relate.

    “I know better. I know that shouldn’t be the case. But I just don’t know why I think it is.”

    And therein lies your work (and I don’t mean “work” in a bad, hard, suffering way). Can you observe these thoughts from outside of them (if that makes sense)? Because that’s all they are…thoughts. They are not “the truth.” Thoughts can be changed if you desire to change them.

    • Debbish
      January 28, 2014

      I’d definitely like to change those thought patterns Karen. I guess I kinda observed them on the weekend – looking at pics of people having fun etc and wondering why I was so surprised that they were having fun (given they were overweight etc). I tried to picture myself in the same situation but couldn’t!

  • Satu
    January 28, 2014

    That’s a great quote from Caroline Myss! I may need to borrow it..

    I do feel self-conscious of my looks – and lack of proper wardrobe – from time to time but for the most part I don’t let it dictate what I do or not do. I’ve even contemplated on wearing strapless shirts even though they don’t look terribly good on me – it’s really not my problem if people don’t like me going sleeveless. 🙂

    There real tragedy is the life not lived. I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that the only way to have a life is to “suffer” all the unpleasant and uncomfortable emotions that are involved in putting myself out there.

    • Debbish
      January 28, 2014

      Completely agree Satu… the ‘life not lived’ is the thing that scares the bejesus out of me!

  • Jess
    January 28, 2014

    This is such an insightful post I don’t think there is any comment I can make because you *get* it. Youur self awareness is pretty amazing. I think many of us have suffered with feelings of inadequacy, lack of worthiness and body image issues. The hardest part is definitely not letting those issues prevent you from living. I am definitely guilty at times. Not something I want to look back on and regret.

    • Debbish
      January 28, 2014

      Oh absolutely Jess… regret is the thing that scares me the most (cos I already feel like I ‘wasted’ much of my life!).

  • Sara
    January 28, 2014

    Thanks so much for your posts. For myself, avoiding going out becomes a good reason to stay overweight, because then I have got a good excuse to stay at home with my cats and a glass of wine. I think I need to just get out there and do it.
    I don’t know if you have seen a new Australian book called The Weight Escape – it is not a diet book! It uses principles of mindfulness and looking at your values to explore eating decisions, and I’m finding it really helpful.

    • Debbish
      January 28, 2014

      The book sounds interesting Sara, I’ll have to check it out. Mindfulness (in everything) is something I’m striving for.

      And yes… It’s easy to stay within our comfort zones. I know I definitely do that (stay at home etc) WAY more than I should!

  • Neen
    February 6, 2014

    I totally get where you’re coming from. But you know, you’re brave too! I could never write a blog like this and be so honest so I guess we all do things that are bold in our own way 🙂

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