Emotional Sobriety: The Beginnings of Self-Acceptance

I started eating low-carb before Christmas, as a way to regain my self-control and composure in the face of piles of sugar, all sitting around me in delicious little packages, from my home to my office to the supermarket and beyond. When I first got sober, I gave myself free license to indulge in anything carby: breads, sweet treats, pastas, juices, smoothies. Whatever. It was more important to me that I focus on alleviating the pain of missing booze by giving myself a sweet outlet to bury my head in than it was to be a hawk about my waistline.

But, of course, too much of a delicious thing is a recipe for something not-so-sweet. I wasn’t losing as much of the booze bloat as I wanted to. I still felt jiggly and round-faced. I knew that being sober was still most important, but I wanted to feel like my mental changes were adequately reflect by some nice physical changes, too.

So in December, after nearly 6 months sober, I decided to go low-carb as I had once before in 2012. I flipped the switch from trying to moderate my sugar intake to cutting processed sugars and refined carbs out of may diet. That meant no more pizza, quesadillas, pasta, cookies, bread, or sweet lattes. In came the bacon, the avocados, the fatty cheese and the sautéed veggies. I survived Christmas and the New Year with only a few sweets here and there, a fraction of what I might’ve eaten if I wasn’t watching my plate so carefully.

It’s been about a month. The number of the scale has dropped by two. I’ve noticed my stomach, while still jiggly, gives me a little less to hold in my hands. My skin feels slightly more taut to my body. My calves are almost pure muscle at this point, and the weight lifting I’ve been doing has added a nice amount of structure to my arms, shoulders and back. I don’t look in the mirror these days and automatically think, gee, how I can I hide myself a little more?

I’ve always struggled with body image issues, ever since I was about 8 years old and my tummy began making its first appearance. It felt so foreign to me, like an intruder on my body. I didn’t know how to handle it. I bloated up through elementary and middle school, then slimmed back down in highs school through and unhealthy combination of excessive exercise and binge/purge cycles.

Alcohol brought its own set of problems, as did my more serious relationships. Even at my slimmest, I was called fat by someone who claimed to love me. I rarely feel comfortable leaving the light on during intimacy. I’ve consistently felt small in all the wrong areas, and too big in most others. Looking back at almost any point in my life, I can identify the cycles of dieting and failure that have led my 5’6” frame to get as slim at 145 pounds, and as heavy as 210. Contentment is a fickle and short-lasting phenomenon.

The strangest thing happened to me the other day, though. I experienced a thought that hasn’t ever made an appearance in my head before. I was fumbling with my purse and keys while walking from my parking garage to my office. I thought about how comfortably snug the belt on my pants was, and how it didn’t feel too tight or like it was making my stomach bubble over the top. I had hooked it on the third hole in that day, instead of the second, like normal.

I thought to myself, “What if this is just the weight my body wants to be? Am I okay with my body the way it is right now? I think I am. I think I might be okay with how I am right now. I’d like to keep strengthening and working on my muscle composition, but I’m actually okay right now, if this is what it’s going to be.”

That was surreal to me. To think that. That I’m okay. That I’m beginning to accept myself and my body for what it is. So many of my years have been spent in some tireless effort to make myself feel thinner, prettier, more feminine, and more acceptable to men. Really, that’s what it is. That’s what it has always been. Be acceptable, pretty, feminine and small enough for men. Never truly for me. Always for someone else.

The fact that, as part of my sober journey, I’ve begun to look at myself through a different perspective – as a young woman who has a strong, healthy body, a creative mind, and a desire to keep learning and improving herself – is humbling. It feels like one of a million steps toward finally being able to heal the two decades of hurt that I’ve been storing in my body. It feels like I’m starting to understand the true concept of self-love, not as quick quote placed on top of a serene photo, or a day spent perusing the self-help aisle at Barnes & Noble. No, I feel like I’ve gotten a glimmer of what it means to see myself for who I am and accept it. At least in this one small area.

It feels amazing to know that there is a reality beyond shaming myself for having a body. For having thighs that touch and arms that aren’t chiseled from rock and a belly that holds food and love and the safe space for my ever-inconsistent breath.

It feels amazing to know that as long as I treat myself well, nurture myself with what I need, and move my body regularly, I can – no, I will – be just fine.

It feels amazing to lift that tiny weight off of my already-burdened shoulders.

It feels amazing to finally let go.

4 thoughts on “Emotional Sobriety: The Beginnings of Self-Acceptance

  1. I Quit Wineing says:

    Oh how wonderfully freeing! I just love this. I also do low Carb and just this week have cut out dairy in an attempt to lose some weight. Even though I have a lot to lose I realise that my negative self talk has been so damaging. I am also learning to love myself right where I am now. Even though that is where I want to end up, it is good for now. Thank you for sharing xx

    Liked by 2 people

  2. shehidbehindtheglass says:

    What a lovely, freeing thought. I’ve been looking back at pics of myself during one of my happier stages but where at that time I felt so overweight and self conscious of my body. I look at those pics now and think “what was I thinking? I looked fabulous and healthy and HAPPY!” I thought to myself “5 yrs from now I could be 50 lbs heavier and look back on pics of me NOW and think the same thing… so I really need to start thinking of myself positively.” Easier said that done sometimes, so I am so happy for you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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