Guest Post: A New Voice
Today’s guest post is an essay by Jill Long, an artist and married mom of two who lives near Madison, Wisconsin. You can see some of her work at beaulahblue.etsy.com.
A New Voice
I wore a swimsuit today. A swimsuit. My swimsuit. One layer of clothes was removed and I stood practically bare in front of seven strangers, 5 a.m. and ready for laps. I’d removed more than clothes. I stood naked, layers and layers and layers of what removed? Shame? Something has changed in me.
I know when I started getting fat. We moved. Far away. My husband had a wonderful job that he loved, but it kept him at work until seven or eight or later every night. I had a wonderful job that I loved, but it kept me at home all day with two small kids and a pantry full of food. And I thought I had to be perfect, my kids had to be perfect, my house had to be perfect. And then I had to have another job, too, because people always asked, “What do you do?” and then they got that look on their face that said, “Oh.” Back then, when I was always alone and so young, I thought it mattered, what they thought. So I got up at six and took care of my kids all day and then stayed up until two or three trying to build an art business, slept for a few hours and then ate to keep myself awake during the day. As I started to gain weight and lose sleep, a voice in my head started to tell me some awful things.
And then, we moved and we moved and we moved. I always had plans to lose weight or exercise or make some change, but the change was always pack, or paint, or set up our lives, or dismantle our lives. It didn’t matter, because that voice, that voice that had started to tell me those awful things, had already convinced me that I had no value. It convinced me that I would never be successful at anything. It convinced me that I am not worth getting to know. It convinced me that I am dumb and ugly and uninteresting and illiterate and a million other things. It even convinced me that chocolate made me feel better than anything.
I haven’t worn shorts in seven years. I never wear short sleeves. It’s not so much because I think I look hideous; I do think I look hideous. But before today, I would never have considered subjecting others to my hideous body. I know that’s not such a crazy idea because I’ve heard what people say: why don’t they just f%cking lose weight, “fat ass” this and “fat ass” that, and a million other awful things said about fat people. Heck, I’ve probably laughed at some of them. I just happen to know why they haven’t f%cking lost weight: it isn’t always f%cking easy.
But something has changed in me: I think that voice might be a liar.