Things are finally happening here in Charleston! I am interviewing for jobs, walking around the city for hours while I rack up steps on my Fitbit and finding the ease of familiarity that sets in when I don't have to use my GPS to get to the gym or the grocery store.
It feels good.
I have said it a million times, but transitions are my enemy. I like the feeling of knowing exactly what will happen. I like schedules and set routines. I like knowing my way around. I need to stop being such a clenched hard-on.
Lately, I am trying my best to be in the moment. I am reading books I have always wanted to and I am finding peace (and not anxiety) in my thoughts. I am eating and sleeping better. I am trying my best to react minimally to countless last minute plans (thanks (NOT) in-laws to be) and to be open to experiencing new friends and new places.
I have mentioned it before, but I had a tummy tuck a few years ago. It was something that was encouraged by Awful and I am still conflicted that I went through with it at all. Especially because I wasn't open about it with my family. Ever since that major surgery, I know that I can't do anything that I wouldn't tell them. That is my conscious barometer.
My stomach has always been "my area." Growing up it stuck out like a shelf. When I glance at the little girl photos of me, I look like I swallowed an entire watermelon. Firm and full. By junior high, it got softer and smaller. I had one large roll when I stood and three medium rolls when I sat. Even though I had thin arms and legs, my stomach labeled me as fat and I was known as a fat girl when the boys ranked the girls. By high school, I started to get breasts and hips. My stomach flattened a bit and above the belly button, I had a very distinct waist and firm upper midsection. I could finally see my feet when I showered! Below the belly button was another story entirely. I was mushy with a soft lower belly. I was told I had a fupa (fat upper pelvic (pussy) area). I did. When I got to college, I put on weight VERY rapidly. About twenty-five pounds in a matter of weeks. I developed angry red and itchy stretch marks on my lower tummy. They haunted and depressed me every time I looked in the mirror and discouraged me from making the necessary healthy eating changes I needed to. As an eighteen year old girl, I thought to myself, "why lose weight, because of my stretch marks, I will never be able to wear a bikini anyway!" Eventually, I did lose weight. My first big weight loss came a year and a half after my first big weight gain. The stretch marks started to fade a bit and with a higher cut bikini bottom (which were in style much more in 2001 than they are now), I could even hide them.
I rode this weight roller coaster all throughout my twenties. Up and down and up again. At any weight, my stomach was never socially acceptable. It stuck out in T-shirts. Sheath dresses pulled across my lower abdomen and a-line dresses made me look ripe with child. If I had a quarter for every time someone asked me when I was due, I would have at least 10 bucks! And it never got less traumatic! The last time someone asked me, I was at my lowest adult weight which was about five years ago. I died a bit inside. All of my hardwork and discipline and exercise and Spanx and thoughtful dressing (every time I tried to wear boho flowy tops, someone asked me, so I gave those up cold turkey) and STILL….I was still being mistaken for pregnant.
When I met Awful, I was on a boat. I was wearing a bikini. I was thin for me. He later told me that he noticed my smile, my toned legs and how self conscious I was in my bathing suit. He said "the way you sat with a towel draped across your midsection, I could tell how self conscious you were about your belly." It was true. Awful knew how to pick out the weak and insecure and I was both. After we started dating he would tell me that he would "pay to have my stomach lobbed off" and he would squeeze it and call my rolls "the stormy sea." It killed me. All I wanted was a nice smooth flat tummy. I wanted to feel what it was like to not have to worry about being called pregnant by a stranger on the train.
So, one day when Awful was grabbing at my stomach and kneading it aggressively like dough, I took him up on his offer to pay for a tummy tuck. I decided that I wanted to no longer have this weight hanging around my middle. I didn't want a man to judge me for being lumpy. And this kills me. Because I actually secretly loved my stomach. My tummy was a part of me and my own stupid insecurities couldn't let me celebrate it. I am imperfect. So there.
My tummy tuck has settled and it's not without fault. I have a scar and beneath it, I still have stretch marks. I knew that both were going to be there post-operation. They are just very low and now hidden in my pubic hair area. I have two little keloid scars on my upper tummy from liposuction that accompanied my procedure. My skin is very prone to scaring and stretch marks, so this doesn't bother me all that much. The scars have been resistant to silicone sheets and injections and ointments to help reduce them and at this point, it's fine. They only person that really sees my belly is Crush and I hope to keep it this way. I know his love is so pure that he doesn't even notice my lumps, humps and bumps.
In clothes, my body has been hugely improved. Since the procedure, even at my heaviest, I have NEVER been mistaken for pregnant. This in itself pleases me to no bounds. I feel like I can go out in public and walk freely without having snooping glances thrown at me…."is she pregnant or not?!?" I look foxy in tight dresses and I love looking at myself from the side.
I know that my flat tummy may be fleeting. I will hopefully get pregnant and my stomach will change and I will embrace and love my post baby body. Sometimes I secretly look forward to my cosmetic tummy becoming undone, so it will officially erase Awful from my body. I would actually take a not so flat tummy over having to be reminded of him on a daily basis. When I look at my belly, I often think of just how AWFUL he was.
For years, all I wanted to do was to wear a bikini. It was a dream of mine. I fantasized about it in high school and cut out bikini clad models from YM for diet motivation. When I finally made my WeightWatchers goal weight in college and bought a bikini at age twenty-one, I cried tears of joy in the Dillards dressing room. But, in a two piece, I never felt confident. I positioned myself laying down strategically on lounge chairs and waited for friends to be deep in conversations before I would venture into the ocean or restroom. I hid out on pool steps, so my midsection was covered by chlorinated water and always put a towel, pillow or book in front of my belly when I wasn't soaking myself.
As I get older, I want to feel good in my skin. I want to feel proud of the person I am. Imperfections and all. Even if I am still sporting twenty or so extra pounds. Even if many of my friends still wear bikinis and still look amazing in them. So, I took a new approach and I bought a one piece. I am never going back…..
In my one pieces (I now own three that I LOVE), I feel curvy, shapely and sexy. My tummy looks flat, my shoulders look strong, I have no back fat (I hated how I looked from the back in a bikini). I feel like I can sit upright on my lounge chair and walk anywhere I want without a towel or cover up. It is extraordinarily liberating. I look forward to putting on my bathing suit and heading to the beach because I love how I look. I know I am projecting confidence and even I can't believe it, but I have been complimented at the beach several (for real) times in my new favorite one piece (retro style with black and white polka dots) and I even had a lady chase me down to ask me where I got it from (Target). I think anyone can wear anything they want to the beach, regardless of their size. For me, no matter my weight, I just never felt at peace in a two piece.
As the days to my wedding tick down, I anticipate how I will look on my big day. I don't care about being skinny anymore.
The way I want to look is HAPPY.