Out of the Picture

I read a lot of blogs. My husband laughs at me some times because I frequently start sentences with “So, I was reading this blog today and…” (I end the sentence by telling him about something shocking, interesting and/or thought provoking I read).

This is the second blog I’ve started. I did the first for several years but had a baby, lost a password, and it just faded. Starting this blog has energized me and I find myself thinking about what makes a blog compelling, something that someone would want to bookmark and follow. For me, strong writing is the biggest pull but beyond that, I think good blogs draw you in to the writer’s life and give you a chance to see how someone else lives, which can be fascinating.

Part of what can also draw me into a blog is pictures: seeing the writer and their life, their kids, their day to day selves. I thought about this and thought I should put a picture of myself up. This turned out to be considerably easier to think about than to do.

I asked my husband to take a picture of me last night as I got ready to go for my bike ride (6.25 miles- longest one yet!). He took one, showed it to me and I instantly made a snarky comment about myself. He protested and gently chided me to be nice.

I thought about the picture the whole bike ride, about whether I’d post it, about whether or not I could learn Photoshop and airbrushing by tonight, about maybe posting it with a joke about it being a “before” picture.

I hate most pictures of myself and I’ve thought of myself as fat for, oh, about 22 years (I’m 30). Sometimes I have been objectively right in that opinion, other times objectively wrong, as I can see now in old pictures.

I grew up believing I was a chubby baby. A “butterball” my mom used to say. A part of me has long believed that I’ve always been just too big. I look a pictures now and I don’t see that. This was me as a toddler:

A normal amount of chubby

A normal amount of chubby

Adding to my life long perception of being too big, I have a twin sister. For most of our childhood, she was thin as could be. I’ve always been more muscular. I had to deal with getting boobs in the fourth grade, she had to deal with not getting them until well into high school. She was teased mercilessly sometimes for being so skinny. I was jealous.

Skinny and sister

Skinny and sister

I really, really thought I was fat in high school (how not at all cliche- a high school girl who hated her body) despite the fact that I was on the swim team, worked out all the time and weighed about 140 pounds (I’m 5’9).

I did a lot of the things that people do when they hate their bodies. I dieted, I counted calories, I obsessed. I did some things that not everyone does: I binged, I purged, I got really sick, I got therapy, I got better.

My weight? Went up and down. Mostly up.

When my husband and I met, I was freshly back from living in South Korea, just learning to be okay with myself after about 5 years of weekly therapy with a great counselor. We fell in love quickly and were married about 13 months after we met. I was and am the happiest I have ever been since we’ve been together. I feel loved by him and, most days, I like myself now too (Feel free to visualize me singing “The Greatest Love of All” by Whitney Houston).

I’ve been happy. I’ve gained weight. Probably about 50 pounds since my husband and I met. I have everything I’ve ever really wanted: a fantastic husband, a baby that is a delight, a good job. I kind of figured that once I got myself in mentally good shape (hence the therapy) and stopped hating my own guts, the weight stuff would take care of itself. It didn’t.

We have lots of great pictures from our wedding and then…I kind of disappear. We have pictures from various races my husband has done and pictures of my step-sons and my friends’ kids, but none of me. There are about 10 pictures of my from when I was pregnant and about 10 pictures of me with my son. My son is 14 months old. We have hundreds of pictures with him. 10 pictures with me, none are framed, none hang in the house or my office. When I think about that, it makes me want to cry.

As I rode my bike last night I thought about how much I am going to and already do regret this photographic disappearance. Someday my son is going to look at pictures from his life and wonder where I was. Maybe I will wonder the same, all because I couldn’t stand to look at myself.

I’m going to post the picture of me and my bike. This is what I look like now and this is the body that I have, a body that has carried a baby and swims and rides and is learning to run.

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4 thoughts on “Out of the Picture

  1. Johanna I. says:

    1. Jon also laughs at me because I am constantly saying, “So listen to this funny/interesting/scandalous thing I read on one of my blogs today.”

    2. I think you are very brave for posting this. I’m really enjoying reading about your new adventures in athleticism. Hope it helps to know you have a captive audience!

    • Wendy says:

      Thanks Johanna… for being a captive audience and for letting me know that I’m not the only one who bugs her husband with tales from blogland.

  2. Mr. Monkey says:

    What I’ve always loved about your body–and admired about the bodies of other female athletes–is your strength; I literally find it thrilling to watch you swim. My hope is that as you grow stronger now, you’ll be able to see yourself as Miles and I see you: beautiful, powerful, and a wonderful body to hold.

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