Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Self Reclamation Proclamation

I'm sure most of you are familiar with Marilyn Monroe's famous words,
"If you can't handle me at my worst, you don't deserve me at my best".

I've been thinking a lot about this; but in my head I replace the word 'handle' with 'love'. And rather than directing the statement to someone else in my life, I have been directing at myself.

Over my years, I have struggled immensely with self love and acceptance. Perhaps from being the tallest girl in my class since before I can remember, needing a full on bra by the fourth grade, criticism from family members on my looks, or bullying in school - I never really got to a point where I was comfortable in my own skin. In college, I would run to Walmart to pick up the
Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition so I could cut out the models and tape them all over my house. "#Fitspo", I called it.
That's not inspirational. That's not healthy. That's not motivating. The girls in the picture rarely look like that in real life thanks to photoshop edits. Starving myself to lose 30 pounds between Christmas and Spring Break was far from healthy.

It's quite the cycle, when you don't simply love yourself; you pick yourself apart, decide to stop eating to look better (that obviously fails), food becomes a comfort, you overeat, you wind up more unhappy and uncomfortable. Sound familiar?

This cycle came to a stop for me after I had my first daughter in 2014. I felt raw and vulnerable, but at the same time empowered and strong. I had just grown a beautiful, healthy human inside me and delivered her into this world. I better freaking love myself, right?! Not so much.
Shortly after the high of giving birth, I felt really, really empty. I felt lost. I felt naked and like I was in a foreign body. The same body that housed my beautiful baby suddenly became a vacant shell. It was confusing, maddening, and scary. I worked so very hard to lose the baby weight & feel confident in my body.

In just under 10 months I did it. I lost 90 pounds. I reached my ultimate goal of having abs for the first time in my life by my daughters first birthday.
And guess what? I still wasn't happy.
In fact, I was so far from happy I started seeing a therapist weekly, sometimes even more.
The first day I remember her asking me, "Do you think you deserve to be happy?" and just the idea of that question made me so uncomfortable I burst into tears.

Over the next 2 years I worked hard at eating healthy, exercising regularly, caring for my body and trying to stay positive. I really felt like I was happy. I felt like I had finally grown to love my body for what it was. Easy to say when things were on the up and up.

It's easy to love anything when it's doing what you want it to do. It's hard to love something that's fighting you back, acting in ways completely out of your control. This has been my experience over the last 15+ months. My body and mind have been such a battle for me - between my second pregnancy  and gaining the same amount of weight as my first despite valiant efforts to be healthy and fit throughout it, my previa, my csection, the NICU stay, my degenerative disc disease rearing it's ugly head, being unable to mitigate my post partum anxiety & depression through exercise, embarking on a Total Elimination Diet to heal my new baby, and then complete nutritional chaos once that was over ....
Between factors completely out of my control (and some self induced sabotage) things have been far from perfect or ideal and I've found it once again a brutal struggle to love myself and this body I am in.
How unfair is that? I love myself when I'm happy and fit but not when I am struggling and in recovery?
I call bullshit.

It's time for me to do some serious soul searching. To love everything I am: the good & the bad, the fit & the chubby, the happy & the not so happy. I need to learn to love the me who teaches 12 bootcamp classes a week and also the me who's spinal arthritis makes it hard to stand up straight. I need to learn to love not just the me who can cook and host a killer Thanksgiving dinner but also the me who struggles to get dinner on the table every night. To love the me with a six pack and skinny jeans in a size I never thought I'd see & the me who struggles to lose the 65+ pounds of baby weight. I want to learn to love myself and all the seasons of me that comes with.

Damn - If I can't handle MYSELF at my worst, who am I to deserve me at my best?

It's time I love the shit out of me, regardless of any and all circumstances. That started last week with admitting I am not okay and do need professional help for my mental state. Postpartum anxiety and depression are a real bitch and shouldn't ever be taken lightly. I am thankful to have such amazing resources to turn to in dark times like this.

The feeling of relief and knowing I can get through this has really motivated me to look at my life as a whole. Do some evaluating of the things I can and cannot control. 2018 will be the year I reclaim my body, mind and soul. It is mine. It is the only one I have in this life.
I encourage you to follow along and join me in my quest for self love, acceptance, and happiness.

xx Ashley

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