Remember what I told you about how being broken to pieces gives you the opportunity to build yourself back better than ever? Well, you can; but, it takes effort.
The other part?
It’s entirely on you to get there.
Having grown up with scoliosis, my thoughts on my body had never been very positive. From being mocked and called a freak, or hunchback- whatever, to gaining quite a lot of weight after my spinal fusion operations.
My weight gain came from not being able to do any real physical activities for years after my operation. For instance, I couldn’t even run for a little over a year- and I couldn’t jump into a pool for almost four years because the jolt would cause my fusion to have issues that could range from mild to severe.
Not being able to be active took a toll on me, and I began eating out of depression and boredom.
This led to me gaining over 30 pounds in a little over a year- making me 170 pounds standing five foot four inches tall at the age of twelve. Of course, I already felt pretty depressed about this on my own; but, the kids at school thought it was just great new material to throw in my face daily.
During that time period I felt so down about myself that thoughts of suicide were on my mind almost constantly. I was in constant pain from healing for over five years, I couldn’t even feel touch on my back, and I couldn’t have just one moment to feel relaxed.
This began to affect my grades at school, and made me generally anxious to go to school every day. I mean, what else would that do to a kid?
I was putting zero effort in to my appearance at this time as well- and spent most of my time writing short stories, being with my dog, and sometimes being with a few friends; though, looking back on it, I wouldn’t say I ever considered many of them to be real friends.
There were a couple; but, for the most part I felt a few of them only hung out with me to make jokes about it later- which in hindsight is fine by me because they totally peaked in high school.
I mean, this is a blog about moving on; but, I am also still only human and believe there’s something beautifully ironic in the fact that most of the people who used to mock me for who I was, or how I looked, or how little I could do, have, in fact themselves accomplished next to nothing since I last saw them over a decade ago- and if anything I have came to see them for just how hollow they were then, and may still be now.
Back to the point at hand. I spent years feeling very low about myself; and always weighing myself on the scale- even trying to starve myself; and it got quite extreme.
It 2009 when I decided I was so tired of hearing all the same low IQ jokes the people at school threw at me, that, in teenage fashion- I decided I was going to lose all the extra weight before the start of the next school year.
I began with long walks in the freezing winter’s cold brought to you specially by Canada, as I had read that the cold boosted your metabolism.
With that decided I began a diet of only fruits, vegetables, and protein- and upgraded my cold winter walks with running five hours a day on an elliptical I bought for myself. It was easy to do when I sat in front of the TV.
The weight just started dropping off like crazy. I guess that was a perk of having a lot of time to myself. I will also admit it was easy to do thinking of the looks on people’s faces when I went back to school when I took away one of their bullying talk points.
Oh boy, I did enjoy that first day of school. I certainly didn’t mind the second looks either as people had to do a double take to recognize who I was. It was empowering as I saw that I had clearly proven some of them wrong in what they thought I was capable of. Again, I was a teenager, petty was the name of the fucking game back then and I won’t apologize for it.
One thing I did not expect was the amount of people who started actually being friendly to me, or, even better, acknowledging that I existed at all.
I went from being with myself and some poor choices of fake friends who also spent most of their time putting me down while using me for the pool at my mom’s house, to having friends that for the most part simply hadn’t had classes with me yet and got to know me after the weight loss- and who weren’t influenced by Regina George.
For years I had believed people like the bullies at my school when they said I was useless and wouldn’t ever be loved, and that I would always be overweight. It really destroyed me; but, I was lucky that my uncle had a new girlfriend named Shelley, whom I used to help clean the house due to her being ill with lupus.
Shelley was the first person other than my mom and grandma who had told me that I was going to accomplish amazing things. She was like my hype buddy, and we spoke to each other about everything; even the things I was too scared to ever talk to my mom about.
Seeing how Shelley kept so positive, and was always friendly to everyone she met- friend or stranger; made me realize that life can be just as happy, or just as sad as you want it to be. That no matter what you are going through, you can choose to see the beauty around you, and within you.
She told me about how my struggles would make me strong, and how the people who were ruining my days would go nowhere, and that I should be thankful for their rejection, as it would be a surprise gift later on in my life.
I admit, I didn’t exactly believe her at the time; but, I believed just enough to do everything in m power to make my life what I wanted it to be, and that I would embrace never fitting in with the kids at school; because, I had gone places and would go places they could never dream of.
Years later, I realize just how right Shelley was, and I will forever be thankful to her for that.
Through very hard work on myself both mentally and physically, I became the person I had only dreamt I could become, and in doing so, I became unstoppable.
In taking control of my own narrative, I took away the control that those around me had been holding me down with for years.
That is why I firmly believe that we each have two options in our lives- to either be happy with what we have, or do something about it to make sure your life is nothing less than what you want it to be.
Maybe that’s a simplistic outlook; but, I have also learned that keeping goals short and simple makes them easier to accomplish- and that one should always work hard in silence, with your victory
being more impactful than words could ever be.
When people tell you what they think you can do, they are really only projecting their own insecurities onto you.
That all these little words that people say to you only have as much power over you as you allow them to have.
In all honesty though, even after my initial weight loss I still suffered body positivity issues.
I worked out too much and ate too little to get by all so that I could avoid being the fat kid.
In fact, at one point I weighed 120 pounds and was far too thin.
This did cause a different type of depression; which only got better once I moved to London England and began a new life where I slowly began to just allow myself to exist. To stay active; but, to eat whatever I wanted as well, and to stop standing on the scale every day. In fact, I check it less than once a month now.
And although I found ways to be kinder to myself I am fully capable of admitting that to this day I am still searching for ways to always be kind to myself and appreciate the body I have. It isn’t always easy; but, I do know that I am more happy now than I ever have been before, and that each day will be a new challenge, one that I readily accept.
That each time you feel worthless, do something to prove to yourself that you aren’t.
I did exactly that; and It has given me some of the greatest adventures, and liberations of my life.
I went from being the kid everyone said was a freak, ugly, gay, and fat- to an adult who is now a junk food loving, active, toned gay man who has taken part in a nude photoshoot by a world renowned gay photographer in Barcelona that have been shown to hundreds of thousands of people.
More on that and how that happened later though. That's a whole story on it's own.
Yes, I was scared as fuck doing that; but having done it I felt a power and freedom that I have taken with me forward in my life.
Because each time you manage to do something you think you’re not capable of, you will surprise yourself in ways you will not know until you challenge y
It really is true what they say, the only one holding you back is yourself.
I am also comfortable enough with myself and body to know that I aged like fine wine; and that I am actually pretty darn good looking- which is something I’ve just recently come to be comfortable with.
I am also really funny, which is a perk from having to use comedy as a coping mechanism for most of my life. And that I am for the most part humble, and still a little bit of that awkward somewhat chunky kid on the inside.
I mean, I do live off of chicken fingers, pizza, bread, butter, berries, and the souls of the children of Salem after all, SISTAHS!
What I want you to take from this is the lesson of being patient in your life, and with yourself. To remember to show yourself kindness, even if you are the only one doing so.
You, and you alone, hold the power to change your perception of yourself. I wouldn’t recommend waiting for someone else to come by and change your outlook, it most likely won’t happen.
Each time you catch yourself thinking you can’t do something; go and prove yourself wrong.
My most recent challenge has been to accept my spinal fusion scars; something I have been self conscious about until the last year or so.
How did I fix that? I started just being comfortable having my shirt off around others.
And look at me now, wrapped in a damn bed sheet basically naked in the middle of central London.
Who’d have thought it?
Not the kids at school, and definitely not teenage me.
I hope you found some perspective from this entry, and I do look forward to going into further details with you about some of the key moments I had to challenge myself throughout the journey of writing this blog.
I’ve just scratched the surface, after all.
*Weight loss disclaimer: Before anyone goes thinking that I thought I had to lose weight to be happy, it was true due to the extra weight putting a strain on my spine- so, for me, weight loss was essential to a healthy life. With that said I believe in having a body that you feel happy and healthy in, whatever size that may be. Embracing what makes you feel good is all one should ever aim for. Crash dieting the way I did and over-exercising as a teenager is not the right way to address weight loss- which I will address in an upcoming post