Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Teen Week

I love what is going on over at Medicinal Marzipan. They are calling it Teen Week. To sum it up (and maybe butcher it a bit) this week is about adults who have "been there" letting teens know that they too can do it. Granted being a teenager now is different than when I was one (although it really wasn't that long ago, oh how quickly things change), but most of the fundamental challenges haven't changed. So in an effort to take part and to tell all the wonderful teens in my life and all other teens out there that they are amazing and can get through this I am going to share with you some of my teen life.

I was a rather insecure teen. I needed (and sometimes still need) a lot of validation from people. Especially guys. If I didn't have a boyfriend I interpreted that as a personal failing. I must not have been good enough in some way. Usually the way I figured I wasn't good enough was in my looks.

I think my insecurity all started in fourth grade. My family moved that year. For three years I didn't have any friends. I was the "looser" in school. I sat alone at lunch and recess. It wasn't until I went to a new school (Junior High) with a new bunch of kids that I actually made a few friends.

On one side of my family we have rather thick legs. I was blessed to get them too. I was never one of those girls with pencil thin legs, but most of my friends were. Today I'm very proud of my strong legs, but that wasn't always the case. I played soccer. I loved soccer. I lived it. I played up the idea that my thick legs were a good thing because of my soccer playing, but secretly I loathed my legs. Then it wasn't just my legs that weren't good enough, it was also my stomach, my arms, my chest, my face. I compared myself to everyone.

I must confess that  a lot of this was done on a subconscious level. I stopped eating very much. At first I thought it was because I was just too lazy to get up early enough to make myself a lunch, but then it became a matter of pride. I didn't need to eat as much as everyone else. By the time I got to my freshman year of college I had a serious problem. I could go days on half a bowl of cereal. I had a good friend and a roommate who loved to run and work out. We would go together to the gym every day. What was a good, healthy workout for her was often too much for me, but I'd push myself harder and harder.

By the time my dad came to pick me up from my first semester of school I hadn't slept more than 10 hours the previous week. I also had gone that same amount of time without eating more than a couple handfuls of cereal. When I got home I slept for a good 10 days. I was so weak. But I had lost 20 pounds and was encouraged that if I tried a little harder I could reach my goal of 100 pounds, only 8 more to go. I just wanted to be a size 1.

I think this is when the real battle began. I didn't have the energy to starve myself any more. I loved food too much, so I became a compulsive over eater. Then I'd starve myself for a while to make up for it. I loathed myself. When I would eat I'd feel guilty. Had you told me I had a problem I would have thought you were crazy. I was just trying to look like I was supposed to look.  I started to experiment with diet pills and throwing up my meals.

You get the picture. I'm sure you've heard it before. My husband was eventually the one to help me realize I had a problem. I started the long journey to change. It wasn't until I realized I was going to be a mother that this journey really took hold. I won't lie to you and say that I have "arrived" at self-acceptance. But I'm getting there. Some days I am there. The days that I'm not are getting better. I do know that when we let go of insecurity life becomes something new and beautiful.

The moral of this story and the reason I share it? Well, I think it is important to learn from others so you don't repeat their mistakes. Having an "ideal" body was my dream, but even when I was fit and tiny I still hated my body. It's a disease. I wish I would have used my time and energy on learning who I truly was. True friends love us as we are. Find those people to be friends with and find out what you love. Don't waste your life destroying your body. My biggest regret of my teen years is not appreciating and loving myself.

Your teen years fly by. Enjoy them. Be yourself. Learn to love others as well as yourself. Oh yeah, and you're amazing. Just as you are.


Shyra said...

I hope that you can get where you want to be in your own skin! I never had issues with my weight or eating, so I have no idea what you were going through. It makes me sad that I wasn't there for you in jr. high/high school when you were struggling with that. I always thought of you as being a wonderful and very close friend of mine and still had NO idea of what you were dealing with. I'm so sorry I wasn't there for you during that hard time in your life. I think about the things we did together growing up and smile! You helped me when I started my period (do you remember that) I was terrifed and you were the only person I told! You helped me through it and I was very grateful. I just wish I could have done the same for you. I hope you can realize what a great person you are now and back then! It takes a strong person to share your feelings to the world! Always remember that God loves you no matter what!

Sarah said...

ditto, to all that. you can like yourself as you are! promise. :)

Chris said...

wow mel. i knew from reading your blog that you have had issues with your self image, but i never knew these issues were present during middle/high school. like shyra, i wish i would have been there for you. i know that everyone has their personal issues that they go through in life, but for some reason i always pictured your life as perfect. you are so beautiful, had a perfect house, a perfect family, everything seemed to be perfect. but i guess that is what we do, we all try to put up a front of "everything is great" when on the inside we are screaming. just know that you have so much love and support in your life, and it is great that you are trying to help others from making the same mistakes that you have. it is wonderful that you can now acknowledge the thoughts that cross your mind about your self image, and really look at them rationally. keep doing what you are doing, and with time and a healthy attitude you will achieve every goal you set for yourself.

Jenarcissist @ the closet narcissist said...

WHEW!! Don't you feel better after writing that?! I know my post like this was really hard to write...I'd been planning to write it for days and was literally dreading it. But I steeled myself up, and once I got it out, it felt so good! You never know how your post might help someone out there.

Just in case you don't see it, I left a comment back to yours on my blog:

Melanee, thank you so much for sharing this. I'm really liking your blog. "Mirror Health" - what a fantastic term. It's okay that you're not "there" yet. I wouldn't even say I am there 100% of the time. The important part is that you're on the quest!! You'll get there because you WANT to.

I saw a couple pictures of you on your blog, and I can attest that you ARE beautiful. So there!!!! ;)

Thank you so much for sharing us in your blog roll!! I added your badge to our sidebar. :)