Had a tough MA class last night. I was frustrated at work, and then showed up to class and wasn’t performing at the energy level I really wanted to perform at, and I kept feeling like I was fucking everything up, which launched me into my self-hate talk, which wasn’t made any better by the presence of all the mirrors.
Sometimes it just gets to me.
When I got home, I realized how hungry I’d been, and ate, then fell into bed at quarter to nine – realizing how tired I was, and slept right to my alarm at 5:15am.
What amazes me about taking martial arts classes is how much it’s about repetition. You do the same things, the same drills, over and over and over again. Then you get corrected on what you’re doing wrong. Then you do it over and over again. Then you get corrected again. Then you do it again.
The amazing part about it is that after a while, somebody tells you to do a front kick, a double jab/right cross/left hook, or jab-jab-cross-front kick-roundhouse, and you just sort of do it. You know what they’re talking about, and even if the form isn’t perfect, you do it.
One of the women taking a trial class last night asked me how long I’d been coming in, and I didn’t realize until I said it, “Eight months,” that that’s really how long I’ve been doing this. I was frustrated, again, that I wasn’t performing better during that class, knowing how long I’ve been doing it. She asked how I liked it, and I got to wax on about how much I love my martial arts school, how nice everyone is, how great Sifu Kat is, how it’s worth every bloody penny (and it’s a lot of pennies), how my confidence has improved, how it only took two weeks before I started seeing muscles, increase in strength and stamina. And as an afterthought (she wasn’t thin), I added that I’d also dropped a couple of sizes.
But I realized that bit was indeed at the end of my list. Sort of an added bonus.
I’ve talked a lot about how frustrating my weight has been for me, especially since I’m used to crash dieting and crash binging, jumping alarmingly up and down the scale as I please. And during class, I know that one of the big motivators for my self-hate talk were those mirrors.
And I don’t know when I’m going to come to grips with my body. Every time I think I’ve nailed it again, everytime I think, “This is the last time I’m going to bitch about myself,” I’ll have a low day, and my record gets stuck.
Because I know that at a size 20 or a size 12, I have the same view of myself. My body gets smaller, but retains the same shape. I will never been thin, I will never be boyish-looking. I will never dye my hair blonde. I will never get a boob job. And no matter how much I get irritated with my body, I’ll never get liposuction.
I have resolved to like myself just as I am while striving to be the best person *I* can be, not the best person hair dye and scalpels can make me, because ultimately, what scalpels do is make you look like everybody else. They don’t make you look like you.
I have bad moments. I get frustrated. I want to punch in the mirror and scream at it, “How can I be working so goddamn hard and still look like *this*?”
Last night, talking with the woman taking the trial class, who was not thin, who had been working her butt off in class with us and kept up pretty damn well, she mentioned she’d been working out with a personal trainer for a year.
She, like me, did not look like she’d been working her ass off for a year.
And I wondered, “How many of us are there? These incredibly strong, healthy women who eat well and exercise and are going to live until they’re a hundred and twelve, who are being told there’s something wrong with their bodies when in fact, there’s nothing wrong with them at all? When in fact, they’re some of the healthiest people you’d ever meet, and the only thing eating them up every night is worry over why it is their hips continue to carry around baby-making weight when the last thing they really want is babies?”
I have amazing genetics. Despite the fact that some of them treat themselves like shit (no exercise/crap diet/alcoholic), we live for an amazingly long time. Going by genetics alone, unless I get cancer or get hit by a bus, I’ll live at least into my nineties, and probably pretty far into that. And I’ll do it with these goddamn hips.
And maybe that’s the worst part of the self-hate talk, those self-hate moments, because that night, pulling on me sweat pants and tank top for bed, I looked in the mirror and realized that I, personally, really did actually like myself. That I didn’t mind the flair of the hips, or the fact that I could stand to lose 25lbs. I didn’t mind being curvy and solid.
The reason I was so stressed out in class was because I was with a bunch of other people who we’re thinner and/or stronger than I was. I was with a group of people who could possibly be judging me, and for anybody who’s ever identified as a fat girl, you know how worried you can get when exercising en mass. Thinking, “I’m too fat to perform well,” meant me not performing as well, meant me tripping up, meant me falling into the hate-talk spiral.
This morning I rolled out of bed, well-rested, with a pleasant ache from class, and got dressed in new shirt, my brown jacket, my favorite jeans. Put on that French perfume, got my hair right – and startled myself when I looked in the mirror.
Because I like the way I look. No, I’m not perfect. And no, I don’t look like everyone else. Yes, yes, I told myself as I looked, I can stand to lose 25lbs, and I’m doing that this year, slowly, like a reasonable person, because that’s my set weight, and that’s where my body’s headed. But right now, that person staring back at me, that body, is really OK. Seriously. Really. You look like yourself. And that’s not mean or bad or ugly or evil. It’s just you. You look like you. And you’re not a bad person.
Stop. With. The. Self. Hate. Talk.
Dammit. Just… stop.
Why do you constantly care about what other people think? Why do you constantly break yourself down before they get a chance to?
One of the survival tactics I developed in the 6th grade, when I experienced the worst of grade-school harrassment, was to find out all of my faults and think up the worst insults they could result in *before* my tormentors did so. It made me very good at finding all of the things “wrong” with me.
Later, as I got older and started pining after impossible guys who weren’t interested in me, I’d try and figure out what about me I was supposed to change in order to be loved, in order to be liked.
What I realized later was that the moment I liked myself, the moment I stopped caring about what everyone else thought, the more I stood up for myself and said, “Yep. Here. This is who I am, and I like being this way,” the more people were drawn to me, the more people wanted to hang out with me.
Self-confidence is a powerful thing, and I know that I had one good friend bitch at me because of that confidence when I was first discovering it as a high school freshman.
He insisted I was becoming arrogant, I was becoming “a bitch…” What I later learned was that this “friend” of mine was upset that I wasn’t spending as much time with him, that my newfound confidence meant I could expand my social circle and not rely on his “counsel.”
Add that to the fact that I spent some time being “trained” and then spent down time in a household full of self-hate talk, and what you end up with is a woman staring into the mirror who’s constantly at war with herself.
One day, I remember I really like the way I look, and fuck all you fuckers, the next day I get pissed off because I’m not “thin enough,” which in the US is now equated with being “good enough.” Not just in an attractive sense, but in a literal moral sense. Being overweight is being seen as a sign of moral decay. You’re lazy, decadent, give in too much to your desires.
And I think of that woman in my MA class who was seeing a personal trainer, I think of myself, who’s not only running twice a week and going to three MA classes a week and working with free weights every morning, watching what I eat, but I’d been doing those free weights and light cardio for six months *before* I started the classes, and before that, even though I was eating crappy and taking crappy care of myself, I was still doing light exercise regularly. And *before that* – except for a couple crappy six month periods – I spent two years in Alaska and a year before Alaska actually being somewhat active and paying attention to what I ate.
And I think: I’m going to outlive everyone. I’m going to be a size 14 and outlive everybody, and I’m going to be able to kick their asses, and unless I stand up for myself, and stop fucking hating myself, I’m the only person who’s going to know that.
If I get pissed off at what I see in the mirror, they’ll see it and get pissed off, too. If I can’t even treat myself with some kind of respect, I can’t expect anyone else to do so.
I need less bad days. I need less self-hate talk. I need to alter my default.
It’s one day at a time. It’s never over. Some days are just better than others.
And you deal with that. And you get up, and you go again.