Posts Tagged With: body image

The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

Two days before moved to London for the semester, I found out the guy I liked this summer had cheated on his girlfriend…with me. Not only that, but I found out from said girlfriend.

I found out I was the “other woman” in someone’s relationship. Then I flew halfway across the world to London. I spent a week touring Europe with my dad, and the following week moving and settling into my new home. The week after that, classes started up and I had to prep.

In other words, had not processed anything. In fact, aforementioned boy called me the night before I left to “apologize”. And I accepted it – or I thought I did. I even went as far as THANKING him for the “good” parts of the summer, telling him we would be cool as soon as we got over it, and basically acting like the whole cheating situation hadn’t really happened.

Funny thing, though – it DID happen. And even if I pretended like it hadn’t hurt me too badly, it WAS a big deal and it was NOT okay like I said. Ask me how I know!

Last week, after my dad flew back to the US and I found myself on my own again, I immediately saw some scary habits creeping back. The scariest was the emotional eating, and all of the negative feelings that come along with it. That is to say, the guilt, the shame, the sadness…the horrible self-image, the hopelessness, the desire to purge…generally hating what I was doing, and hating myself, all at the same time.

I felt overwhelmed, and it all came crashing down on Saturday night. I finally, FINALLY broke down and just let myself process everything. I needed the chance to feel sad and betrayed and whatever else, instead of pushing it aside and ignoring the underlying emotions. But the worst part of even THIS was that, despite it all, what I mostly felt was disappointment – in him, in myself, in the situation, in general.

Feeling

My biggest issue was that I felt like I made great progress in my personal growth the last few months. Coming out of my last relationship, I felt I picked myself up quickly, channeled my energy into positive things like exercising and eating better, and worked so hard on treating myself right.

But this guy had NOT treated me right, and I let him. He played me for two months – strung me along, sent mixed signals, took advantage of my innocence and trusting nature, and used me to fill whatever void was in his life. Yet all I could think was that it was somehow my fault, that if I had only liked myself more then I wouldn’t have put up with his poor treatment, that I could have avoided this situation altogether.

HE was the manipulator, the cheater, the one who lied about everything from the very start – but I was putting the blame on MYSELF, and rapidly self-destructing. There are so many things wrong with that kind of logic, and it is such a dangerous line of thought. All it did was make me feel even worse than I already did, while simultaneously taking the blame away from where it should have been from the start – on HIM.

A few days ago, his girlfriend got in touch with me again. I told her my side of the story and we filled in some of the missing pieces of the timeline together. We’ve made our peace, which I genuinely appreciate. However, despite learning that he has STILL been lying all this time, even though she’s giving him a second chance that he does NOT deserve, she’s decided that she wants to stay with him.

It’s her life and her choice, I guess. But seeing another sweet, kind girl give in to someone like that pushed me over the edge. It is a month later, almost to the day, and I am FINALLY angry about it. Not annoyed, not sad, not in shock – truly and genuinely ANGRY! I haven’t felt like this in ages.

You see, I strive to be a good person. I want to be a positive piece in the lives of those around me. I try to not speak poorly of others (even if they hurt me), forgive quickly, and take the “high road”. But there’s this quote I saw, and it resonates deeply:

“Don’t light yourself on fire trying to brighten someone else’s existence.”

My goals of kindness, positivity, and forgiveness are noble aims, and they generally do help me keep focused and continually work on being a better person.

But my constant effort to let go, move on, and then welcome the damaging people and relationships back into my life were also attempts at fulfilling these goals. I thought I was showing that I was nice, healthy, and mature – and let me just say, that behavior is NONE of those things. In reality, I was hurting myself even MORE, just to make other people feel better.

Well guess what? I don’t owe those things to anyone, LEAST OF ALL the people who chip away at those better pieces of me. I am trying my best, but I am HUMAN. I am ALLOWED to feel hurt, and angry, and betrayed, and any other emotion on the spectrum that I experience. I am allowed to feel this way, to work through it on my own time and in my own way, and without obligation to anyone else.

Seriously, this guy was awful. He CHEATED on his girlfriend of a YEAR, put me in a position I would NEVER participate in knowingly, and painted me out to be some desperate little girl. He objectified me, sexualized me, DEHUMANIZED me. He made me question my self-worth, damaged my confidence, and set me back in my incredible goals and progress from the summer.

Progress Pic - September 2015

So NO. That is not fine, and not something I have to forgive. I will move on – clearly, I will not let someone break me, much less someone like THAT – but I think this time around, I will utilize this backbone of mine and not let this person back into my life.

Coming out of this terrible experience, I can genuinely say I learned a lot. More than anything, it opened my eyes to some of my subtler unhealthy habits – in all types of relationships, romantic or otherwise. It’s okay to support people; it’s NOT okay to NEVER put myself first. And it also showed me that although I made AMAZING physical progress these past few months, I still need to focus on my emotional and mental growth. I am a much stronger person than I was before, but that doesn’t mean I can’t continue to get stronger.

The reason I’m sharing this, and in a way that’s perhaps less upbeat and cheerful than my usual posts, is because I know I’m not the only person who feels this way. We are constantly taught that anger and sadness are negative emotions we should avoid at all costs. They’re not worth it, we should just get over it, we are in charge of our own happiness…and so on and so forth. And a lot of that might be true – I mean, I much prefer having fun and being happy! BUT IT IS OKAY TO HAVE THESE BAD TIMES, TOO.

Sometimes when I’m going through something, I sit here and think things like, “Well, logically, I know I shouldn’t feel XYZ” or “GOD Ariel, it’s all in your head”. I’m not wrong, but I’m also actively devaluing my emotions and my experience. Even if it IS illogical or in our heads, not addressing it and bringing ourselves down is not the way to go. You don’t have to beat yourself up even MORE for feeling the way you do, and you also don’t have to explain or justify it.

A caveat – there’s a fine line between letting yourself process something, and letting yourself dwell even more on something. The important thing is to let yourself feel whatever you need to, and once you’ve done that, then it’s time to start doing what you need to do to move forward.

All of the above writing? That’s me venting, listening to angry Fall Out Boy, and working through the last bit of these emotions. Then I’m finishing my homework, going to bed, and getting up early for my morning workout. That guy is, in the words of Jean-Ralphio – the wooooorst.

This post was for ME, and also for YOU. Because WE are what matters MOST!

I really hope this helps someone, and I say this (literally) in every blog, but PLEASE feel free to talk to me. I’m over-sharing on the internet to hundreds of people (ha…ha…NICE!); you can over-share to me in my email or Facebook or Tumblr or in person! Seriously – the support you all give me is amazing, and I am ALWAYS happy to return the favor in any way I can.

Anyhow, that’s all for now. Positive London adventures and life updates are to come soon, I promise! Until then, keep being you, kick butt, and stay awesome!! #cliche Much love to you all!

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Progress Report: July 2015

I’m working on another more emotionally-intense piece – so I thought I’d take a break and share something light and awesome with you all first!

Pictured below are photos of me from three months ago, taken April 5th, 2015, alongside photos of me currently, taken July 8th, 2015 (at an ungodly hour of the night).

Before-After 1 7-9-2015

Before-After 2 7-9-2015

The difference is about 12 pounds, more muscle, and a much brighter outlook. I’m not done working hard – I still have a ways to go before I’ll feel I’m at my healthiest, and even then I won’t stop striving for fitness and progress.

Back in April, I made the commitment to get back into shape. I joined an online accountability group, and had my own “coach” that I would check in with each week. I bought the 21 Day Fix Extreme, and even though it felt weird working out in my tiny loft, I stuck with the workouts and cleaned up my eating significantly. In that month alone, I lost nearly 5 pounds.

In May, between the stress of finals and the fun of having a new boyfriend, I gained a bit initially, but came out of the month with a net loss of about a pound. In June, I took a trip with said boyfriend to Austin and weirdly lost 2 pounds? And post-breakup (the day our trip ended, yikes), the rest of the weight has slowly but steadily been falling away.

Now, posting these pictures is hard. Taking those starting photos was pretty miserable, because I had to finally own up to the negative behaviors that had made me feel and become so unhealthy. The evidence was right in front of my eyes, and I couldn’t deny it any longer. I’m very glad I have these progress photos on file, though – because when I start feeling unmotivated or dissatisfied about myself, I have a reference of where I WAS, how FAR I’ve come, and just how much I’ve GROWN in these few months.

butterfly

An important thing to note (and something I constantly have to remind myself) is that there isn’t anything WRONG with the “before” pictures (or the “current” ones). Fundamentally, I was, am, and will always be ME. In the “before” pictures, people found me attractive, I had great friends, and my life was perfectly alright. The true difference between the photos my attitude.

Not to diminish the personal pain I’m still sorting through, and the residual fear and confidence issues related to my recent breakup – but this is the BEST I’ve handled myself in a very long time. Sure, sometimes I do feel a bit wary about future romances, or like something is wrong with me, or even just sad in general – but those feelings don’t own me and my reactions anymore. I’m finding things to focus on (like new workouts, clean eating, photography, nature walks…), and they make me happier, make me feel good about myself, and truly do make me better in the wellness department.

Life happens. We all have to deal with what it throws our way. We won’t always be happy, but we also can’t let a spot of negativity ruin our entire outlook. Over the years, I’ve had a lot of ups and downs – everyone has! – but this is the fastest I’ve come out of a slump, the most positive way I’ve treated myself during a sadness, and the most excited I’ve felt about life since I don’t know when.

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I just wanted to share a little piece of cheer with you guys! Thanks so much to everyone who has helped me along the way these past few months (and longer) – your support means the world to me. I’m doing more than alright (I am AWESOME), and I trust in myself and my resilience to bounce back no matter how many times life knocks me down.

Please feel free to reach out (comment, email, Facebook, ANYTHING!) if you want to talk. Even if it’s just let me know something cool that’s happening in your life – I want to know how you are doing! Seriously!!

I love you all lots, and I’m wishing you the best!

Categories: Perpetual Progress | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Drop the Double Standard

Hey friends!

Today’s topic: the double standards we set for ourselves. (Get ready for some Courage the Cowardly Dog references.)

A few days ago, I went to a concert for my most favorite band ever (Fall Out Boy… shameless plug). Even though I was pumped for the show, I also felt slightly nervous because I went solo. It was also one of my first concerts, and the venue was also somewhere I had never been. So all in all, I already felt pretty awkward.

And then some random frat boys drove by, rolled down their window, and shouted: “Damn girl, yo ass is ugly!”

Completely random, rude, and uncalled for – no matter how you spin it. Whether someone is “ugly” or “pretty” or whatever you may think, that type of behavior is not acceptable.

At least, that’s what I would tell any other person who had this sort of experience.

But because it was me, I let one rude comment get under my skin and into my head. It almost ruined my night and the concert I had looked forward to for months.

Here’s the reason why: I have a harsh double standard for myself.

In my own head, I have this unrealistic image of how I think others view and judge me. If I’m the “health” or “fitness” person (both self-titled), and I skip a workout or eat a bowl of ice cream – suddenly the world falls apart. But if it were any of my other friends doing the same thing, I wouldn’t think twice.

This thinking stretches beyond the realm of body image, and into the space of overall self-image and confidence. If I have to study for hours to barely grasp an economics concept for my class, that means I’m not smart and don’t belong at Rice; however, if a fellow student struggles with writing a paper, that’s just because the assignment is hard and they aren’t used to the subject. If I need to take a moment for myself to recharge or just be alone, I’m antisocial and no wonder people don’t know me; if my roommate stays in to study or sleep, she’s just relaxing and taking the night off.

Do you see a pattern here?

But here’s the worst part – I don’t think I am alone in setting these double standards for myself. If I had to wager a guess, I would say a lot of us experience this. While it is one thing to have high ambitions and try to hold ourselves accountable to our actions, it is something else altogether when we constantly berate ourselves until we are our own worst critics.

Just being aware of this behavior does help start to combat it, though. I’m working through it, and I know it won’t change overnight (I wish!). But here are some of the ways I have tried to start shifting my mindset to something more positive:

  1. Acknowledge the emotions and thoughts. Personally, I go throughout the whole day essentially ignoring my feelings. Then I have a moment of downtime and everything overwhelms me at once, which can set the tone for the rest of the night, week, or even longer. I am now taking the time to work through the emotions I have as I feel them, and then move on.
  2. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt. We are allowed to make mistakes. None of us are perfect, and the occasional “slip-up” is to be expected. It’s when we let these slip-ups become downward spirals that the problems start.
  3. Be your own best friend. Before you pass judgment on yourself, think of how you would treat a friend in the same situation. Would you be so critical? Would you even notice what they were doing? Now treat yourself the way you would treat your friend.

This is definitely not easy, but I know that for me – this is crucial. I want to be in a place where I can embrace the good parts of myself, accept and believe compliments, and not let the curve-balls life throws bring me completely down.

I deserve to see myself the way others see me, and so do you. We are all pretty amazing, even when we’re so different – and if you asked me, I don’t doubt that I would have many good things to say about you. So say them to yourself!

You know what? You kicked butt on that workout – I don’t care how anyone else looks in the gym, because you worked out hard and that’s what matters. You did well on that test – nope, doesn’t matter if someone got a better grade or learned it quicker, because that doesn’t change how awesome you are. You’re a great person, because you are you. It is as simple as that.

So let’s drop those double standards for ourselves and just live life.

Sending lots of love to you all! Let me know if you want to talk, or share your experience. I’m always here!

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