Today I put on a pair of cut-off jean shorts I haven't worn since 1999.
I don't know why I even kept them - most of my pre-baby clothes were given to charity, in a huff, a few years ago. I remember what I was thinking as I stuffed business suits, jeans, shorts and fitted shirts into garbage bags: those days are over. It didn't particularly bother me. I'm a Mom now, I thought, as though being a Mom and wearing those clothes were mutually exclusive, bring on the stretchy Capris.
But for some reason I hung on to those shorts. A couple of years ago I woke up having a skinny day. You know those days? I pulled those shorts out of the drawer, feeling optimistic. I couldn't get them over my hips. Oh well, I thought, reaching for my sweatpants. It didn't crush me, or make me feel horribly. I told myself, again, that my days of being fit, of looking and feeling good, were over. I was okay with that.
What I realize now is that I was used to thinking that what I looked like, how I felt physically, didn't matter. Even with all the work I had done getting sober, lifting myself up emotionally and spiritually, the urge to stuff some of my needs to the bottom of the pile remained. It was too scary to give a shit, because when I really looked at myself I hated what I saw. So I didn't look.
I told myself: I'm happy with me just the way I am. And that was true, until it wasn't.
One morning, nine weeks ago, I woke up and glared at my sweatpants balled up on the floor. For whatever reason, that morning I cared. I had flash of insight, of courage. Before I could stop myself or tell myself it didn't matter, I marched up to my husband and said, "I want to lose weight." As the words left my lips, I knew they were true. I didn't want to lose weight to please my husband, or to look like a supermodel, or to feel superior to anyone else. I wanted to lose weight to stop feeling inferior to myself.
Today, I passed the halfway mark: I am more than halfway to reaching my goal weight. But I bristle at the notion of 'halfway', because I feel an internal shift, an awakening of sorts, like I did (eventually) when I got sober. I resist looking at it as 'halfway' to anywhere, because I don't want to cross any finish line. I can hit my goal weight, and that will be cause for celebration, but I'm new to embracing the idea that my physical well-being - how I feel AND how I look - is important to me.
So I'm forcing myself to stop, throw myself a little parade, and try on those cut-off jean shorts. I'm kind of faking it until I make it, because the idea that how I look matters to me is so new, so foreign and so scary. That fear kept me from losing weight for a long time. I would tell myself: I don't want to get all hung up on my physical appearance, because I don't want my self-esteem to be tied up in how I look. But if my thoughts had subtitles, they would say: I'm scared to care about myself.
It's okay to feel good, I have to keep reminding myself. It's okay to be proud of yourself.
It's okay to matter.