I have been thinking a lot about my mom lately because of some struggles I am going through, but also because of different YouTube videos I have seen on parenting lately. The videos on parenting reminded me just how much we did not get along when I was a kid. She just didn’t understand me and my husband can now sympathize with her 🙂 The only person who really understood me when I was a kid was my dad and I always thought I was just like him. I even look exactly like his sister, my aunt. As I became an adult I realized I had more of my mom in me than I knew.
My mom and I started waking up to the problem with health and food about the same time. She became vegan and lessened her sugar intake considerably at the same time I dove head first into juicing and a detox diet. I loved being able to share this part of my life with her, because, even though we didn’t see things exactly the same we were headed in the same direction. I always hear people ask questions about how to deal with their family and I feel so blessed because I was able to share my obsession with health with my mom.
Now, five years later, we are both dealing with different struggles relating to healthy eating. Even though our struggles are different I still feel so connected with her. I have again been going through depression and I have moved past the dark days, so I feel more comfortable sharing, but I am not going to share everything just yet. My depression is always made worse through my thoughts on body image. Body image never causes the depression, but compounds the darkness.
When I was a kid I was always heavier than everyone around me, but I was so competitive I never thought to cut back on how much I was eating. People would praise my sister about eating so much and I wanted to be praised too so I ate a lot. As I went through my preteen and teen years my mom was always the beautiful, thin mom. She was the one wearing very short shorts to pick us up from school and going to a Christian school, we were not allowed to wear shorts any shorter than three inches above the knee 🙂 My mom also helped me to go on diets in high school. I remember drinking slim fast and eating packaged fruit cups and salad for a month. Then eating this raw food called pulse, which was actually very healthy. Then doing the South Beach Diet. She is a fitness instructor so I would wake up at 4:00 in the morning and go to the gym before school and she would go to the aerobics class with me. I never could lose the weight and I never was as skinny. I felt I would never be able to look like her, I would never be thin enough.
Then I found juicing and I did it! I reached the “goal” and kept going, because, of course I still wasn’t thin enough. I also got a new job, moved closer into the city and started a master’s degree. Suddenly my stress levels skyrocketed and my weight started coming back on no matter how much raw food and juice cleanses I did. I remember complaining to my mom and she said the best thing she could have said and I remember it all the time now. She said “Maybe your body wants to be that weight, maybe that’s what your body needs.” Of course I vehemently answered “I won’t accept that, I can’t accept that!” and forgot all about the comment.
Through my last depression I realized I have some issues with perfectionism, which would surprise anyone who knew me as a child. But what spiraled my depression is not feeling like I was enough. I wasn’t good enough as a teacher, as a wife, I wasn’t thin enough, I wasn’t healthy enough. I didn’t feel like I was enough. I have since learned that I am enough and I don’t have to be perfect and what my mom said to me, about five years ago now is stuck in my head, just like she is saying “you are enough and your body is smart, listen.”
I have realized that skinny doesn’t mean healthy. Even though I am not super thin, I have one of the healthiest bodies I know. I am learning that thin doesn’t mean much and there are so many bodies and so many sizes and shapes. Everyone is different and everyone is beautiful. Thin is not healthy and fat is not unhealthy. My mom is struggling with some health issues and right now she is water fasting. Not to lose weight, she is beautiful and smart and focused, and she wants to be healthy. There are so many things in our lives that we do to ourselves and we don’t realize how much it is hurting us and sooner or later our bodies let us know.
Mom, thank you for teaching me. Thank you for telling me that I am enough. I know you don’t remember some of the things you said that have stuck with me, but you helped to make me the person I am today. I am so excited to keep learning with you through this journey of life!