Hey everyone! Here’s the next chapter in my saga of fitness. Enjoy and feel free to comment below or share this! Or both!
I don’t recognize anything here … nothing looks like my home … this is supposed to be my home, yet nothing looks familiar …
No … this is not my home … this is not where I belong … not yet …
No, the statements above are not from the upcoming Kingdom Hearts game, they’re from my own head. These are the thoughts I have about me. This is how I relate to my own body.
Lately I’ve been struggling to come up with an apt metaphor to help people understand my frustration and discomfort with myself and my body and the closest thing I can come up with is this: I am in a stranger’s house which I am told is my own and has always been my own, and I am now expected to make do with it, and I’ve been making do with that house since I was 12 years old. I see pictures of me as a child and I almost don’t even know how to function. I’ll try to make a connection with the photo, but I can’t, because I see someone that I don’t recognize. I see a smiling boy who eats too much and his clothes don’t fit and his confidence is all but non-existent. I really don’t see “Dillon”. I see a person named Dillon whose life I sometimes don’t want and who’s thought processes sometimes feel so alien that I know they can’t possibly be mine.
I don’t know what that feeling is, or what it means, but as far as I can tell it feels like a type of body dysmorphia.
It is an innate inability within me to accept what is, because internally it feels like it’s what it shouldn’t be.
While I don’t know how to accurately pinpoint the perfect way to define my feelings, I do know what caused them, and I think anyone who feels similarly has at least one event they can point to, or one event that stands out in their mind.
My first event was Spider-Man. I know that seems silly but he was and is a defining event in my struggle to accept myself. I love Spider-Man. He’s my absolute favorite superhero. His origin, his villains, his abilities, his sense of humor, and his over-all bearing resonate with me on a deeply personal level. I felt like Peter Parker. I felt like an outsider with a lot on his plate, who wears a smile as a shield. I’d watch him on TV, read his comics and watch his movies and wish that were me swinging high above the New York skyline, righting wrongs and cracking jokes. That was my dream job, being Spider-Man. Not a superhero, but Spider-Man. SO you can imagine my disappointment when I’d look in the mirror and see an overweight 13 year old instead of a muscular, agile, hero with radioactive spider powers. Why couldn’t I be like him (you know, besides the obvious reasons)?
Another defining series of events was how I was treated at school. Before I discuss this, I want to let everyone reading know, that I had and still have, friends. Good friends. Solid friends. Friends who stand by me through thick or thin, who give it to me straight and who treasure our friendship. That being said, people were cruel to me in school. If there was a way to call someone fat, I’ve heard it and I have been called it before. Thanks to bullying, I managed to find all new ways to hate myself. I’ve got to hand it to my tormenters, they were creative in their torture. I remember I was told once that I had bigger tits than any girl in my grade. That was 7th grade. I’m male and I identify as such, so that one hurt. I remember being told that I was too fat to live. That one still stings. I feel that one on my lowest days. I remember being called worthless because I didn’t want to run, didn’t think I could run anymore. I used to hate, I mean HATE the people that called me fat. I would look in the mirror and seethe for hours, pinching my gut and slapping my chest, watching the fat ripple and crying.
Side note: I don’t hate those people anymore. I forgave them, and sometimes I still have to forgive them, and let me tell you, forgiveness was and is a powerful tool that God used to changed my life forever and I’m so grateful I made the choice to forgive.
Back to the sad stuff …
“Look at you, you worthless piece of human garbage. You are so fat. No one will ever love you. No one will ever want to see you naked”.
Things like that circled my brain like vultures over roadkill, waiting for me to just hurry up and die. I experienced suicidal thoughts (which I never acted upon) on a monthly basis. I didn’t see any way out of this body that I didn’t want. I was deeply depressed, so I’d stress eat out of a depressed sense of spite. Which is an irony I still find hilarious. Thoughts like, “Oh, you think I’m fat? HAH! I’ll show you whose fat. Gimme dem doughnuts.” Seriously. It was like I was competing with myself to see what would kill me first, heart failure or diabetes. That level of self-hatred and detachment is so weird and unusual to me, I just, I don’t know, I still don’t understand why I think or thought that way.
The Stranger’s House disorder kept growing. I’d envision myself with abs and shirtless without covering myself like an outcast and sometimes I’d even dream about the day when I’d wake up and love myself and be a completely different person, but inevitably I’d rise, see myself in a mirror and immediately recoil in disgust. “Don’t look” I’d think. “If you don’t see yourself, maybe you can have a good day.”
It’s so odd to reflect on all of this, because I will sometimes see old photos of myself and they honestly don’t even look like me. I don’t recognize that person and I don’t want to. I want to completely erase that person from existence. I know I can’t but those feelings are so strong they often overpower me.
I do remember the day some of this negativity and self-hate started to ebb out of my life, though.
It’s going to sound negative, but bear with me. It gets better.
I was 17 years old and I never weighed myself on a scale, mostly because I didn’t want to know, but on this particular day, I just wanted to know—no, I NEEDED to know and I knew it wasn’t going to be good because not 15 minutes earlier I had made myself short of breath simply by bending over and tying my shoes. I was shocked. There was no way that should have ever happened. So I just did it. I weighed myself.
I waited, saw the numbers passing 200 … 250 … 290 … 300 … 320 …
Okay scale, you can stop any time now …
350 … 370 …
380 pounds. Three hundred and eighty-one pounds. Almost 400 pounds. I was shocked. I did not expect to see that, and I did not want to see that number. That was too much.
I stepped off that scale enlightened. I reached a crossroads that day, and I had one of two choices. Continue down this road and end up dead before 40, or make a change.
Luckily, I believe God spoke to me that day and influenced me to make a change. It was Easter season and I’d never participated before, but for some reason this was the year I decided to try giving something up for Lent.
I decided to give up soda and candy and within a week, after the caffeine cravings left my system, I began to feel wonderful!
I had energy and I didn’t feel so sluggish any more. I dropped 20 pounds in a very short amount of time and when Lent was over I decided to keep going on the whole “no soda’s” thing.
Not so much on the “no candy” part but nobody’s perfect.
In closing, that one event, what I consider to be one of my darkest hours, has become a force of enormous good in my life. As a Christian, I can look back and see that all things DO work together for the good of those who love God. It was a valley that I often revisit because it’s so powerful and I am glad I have an event like this to point to.
I will always remember that the Psalmist says that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made”. I am who I am supposed to be. God made me for his own reasons and to love Him and His creation (people, this planet, etc) and my struggles were tailor-made for me so that one day I could share them with others, and I know that I am sometimes defeated in my heart by those awful thoughts and negative views but I have confidence that my feelings of defeat won’t last forever, and one day I will succeed and emerge victorious. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but someday. And that someday is a day I look forward to.
In the meantime, I guess this house doesn’t have to feel so strange anymore. I guess I can finally start letting it feel like home.