This Body-shaming Segment Brought to You by Your Man

“Trease, if you gain weight, I’m leaving you. If you ever have to start buying your clothes from there, I’m gone.” I don’t remember the exact date that my ex said those words to me, but the year was 1993 and we were not far from the store Ample Duds in Denver. It is a store for plus-size women and before I moved to Denver, I had never heard of it. We were out and about looking for furniture and it just happened to be in the area we were in. When he said that to me, I remember giving him the absolute coldest stare. I said to him, “Shut the hell up.” He didn’t say another word.

Back in 1993, I struggled hard to gain weight. I could not for the world of me get my weight past 120 lbs. I was 26 years old and had never worried about my weight. I was only mildly into exercise but my natural metabolism was through the roof. As a matter of fact, my nickname was Birdlegs for the longest time. I ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. He had said one of the reasons he married me was because I had a nice body. Of course, as abuse goes, those compliments ended shortly after I became his wife.

After I gave birth to Will, I was down to 126 lbs. by the time I returned to work when he was six weeks old. My delievery weight was 169. I didn’t go on a wild work-out binge and I didn’t breastfeed. I couldn’t breastfeed because that boy was born with his two bottom teeth fully exposed. I wasn’t interested in losing my nipples. I was mindful of what I ate, I didn’t drink regular soda and I was too immersed in the joy of being a new mom to let stress play a role in my existence. I didn’t reach 130 until Will was four.

As is the case in many instances of abuse, I wasn’t paying enough attention to myself to realize that my weight was climbing. I left William in 1997 after he confessed to cheating (the story is deeper than that, but that’s all I’m saying right now) and went back to Mama’s. I was preparing to go to my college homecoming and was trying to find something to wear when I finally settled on jeans. Well, the jeans that I had been wearing were trying to suffocate me! I chalked it up to Mama’s dryer being a monster. I went shopping and found out the truth – I had gained a significant amout of weight. It was at that time when my weight became one of the biggest issues in my life. It would be one of the things that would drag my self-esteem to the deepest, darkest pits of hell. Keep in mind that when I went shopping for those jeans, I only weighed 140 so that should tell you where I was mentally and just where my self-esteem was. By this time, that man had set up home in my head and he was all the way in charge of what I thought about myself.

As the years rolled on and the stress level rose, I gained more and more weight. I heard, “What happened to you?”, “How could you let yourself go like that?”, “Wow…”, “Damn…”. These things came from family and friends but what hurt more than any of those words was that my husband had decided that he couldn’t touch me anymore. The last time I had sex with my husband prior to the divorce in 2013 was in December 2011. One day, I will be able to say publically what happened during one of the few sexual encounters we had in 2009 but I will tell you that one of the things he said to me that night was, “Tre, you look pretty good when you fix yourself up.” That was shortly before the hemorrhage. By that time, my weight was way out of control. I knew it but I didn’t care to do anything about it.

He told me several times after the divorce was final that he missed me and our little family. He told me that I was the best thing that could have ever happened to him. He had come to visit our son once and tried to give me one of “those” hugs. Me, being me, I said, “Ohh, stop that – you might get lost in all that fat.” He cried. I didn’t.

See, I’m my own woman now. I am most definitely working on my weight because I’m not happy with it. There is no “shame” in it; I’m just dissatisfied. I worry about my health because my grandmother died of diabeties related complications at 38. My daddy had heart issues. I’m not about contributing to health issues that I can prevent with better habits.

Never, ever, EVER allow anyone to occupy so much of your space that you become the negative things he says about you. Naturally, we want to look for our significant other but not at the detriment of your well-being. Be your own woman. Live the good life on your own terms.

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