The Innermost Layer

Thank YOU, Ashley Graham for prompting me to peel this layer. It’s the most tender one.

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This! So much this. When I was going through chemo to save my life, to rid my body of cancer, more than one person (who knew what I was undergoing) commented something to the effect of, “Hey, you’ve lost so much weight! You look GREAT” or “Wow, look how thin you are!”

Let that sink in. Yes, I lost 30 pounds in 3 months, because I was incapable of EATING. I was literally killing all dividing cells in my body. I was nauseated 13/14 days for 3 months. And, their only comments were on how my body looked to them, to THEM.

I was fighting to live; they were focused on my weight. Each of these comments hurt just a bit. They skewered my self esteem for a minute, until I became INFURIATED!

At the end of my treatment, I had lost so much muscle that walking around the block was enough, that climbing stairs was enough. It took 6 months to be able to climb stairs without using my arms to help me. It took me almost 40 minutes to walk a mile with Lola and over 25 minutes without her.

Many of you know that I started running 6 months after I finished chemo. I started and stopped for over 18 months because my body was just not ready for this kind of workout. It took me 18 months to build up the strength my body lost during chemo, 18 months. During that time, I saw my weight creep up again, and I berated myself for that, AGAIN. I let myself feel Less Than. No matter how much good I was doing, no matter how much I was helping others, I was still less than someone who was thin.

This April, two years after my last chemo treatment, I started running and I haven’t stopped. My goal is a 10K on November 5th. I stopped berating myself for what my body looks like. I’m 100% focused on what my body CAN do. I don’t care if I don’t lose one more pound.

My weight does not dictate my worth. MRKH does not dictate my worth. Having cancer does not dictate my worth. I fight EVERY day for two things: 1. finding a cure for addiction and drug abuse and most importantly, 2. improving care for people with MRKH, increasing awareness of MRKH, and ending the shame of each person born with conditions that affect development of the reproductive tract.

MRKH is strongly associated with eating disorders, which range from anorexia to compulsive eating. I fall on the latter end of the spectrum, but others fall on the former. As we struggle with this condition that alters our perception of our body, that sinks strong hooks into our self-esteem and body image, please remember that YOU ARE ENOUGH! You are enough. You are beautiful. You are loved, for who you are.

For most of my life, I lived in fear that others were judging my body. In reality, I was its harshest judge. I took in every comment I heard about my body and replayed that tape on a daily basis until that tape was my perception of who I was. I am not free of that tape yet. Is still carry it around, but I threw away my cassette player and my 8-track tape player to make room for my digital collection. I’m carefully curating this collection of mantras and making room in my trash for those old cassettes!

 

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