After a quarter century of battling with weight, emotional and mystery health issues, I finally have some closure. The insight I’ve gained on my journey to wellness has triggered the stages of the grief process in a silent boiling below the surface. It is hard to absorb that I’m on my way to a new life, a second chance, and the emotional healing that I’ve struggled with for so long is quietly concluding.
As a teenager, I struggled with the over-emphasized coordination of weight and social acceptance. Despite being raised by wonderful parents in a safe and upbeat household, I focused on the negative body image that the women in my family were at war with. The preconceived notion that thinness and being loveable were synonymous created a cycle passed down from generation to generation of women on both my mother’s and my father’s sides of the family. I’ve realized after the fact that if I just would have accepted my own weight, other people would have too. If I would have understood then that no matter what the number on my pants said I was always Rachael, the confidence from loving me would have glowed from within and attracted the friendships I longed for.
I found myself not only loathing my weight, but eventually hating my lack of confidence. It wasn’t until my marriage was failing, and I subsequently found any way possible to blame myself, that I started to wonder if I was a hypochondriac. If I could only have more energy, if I wasn’t depressed, if I didn’t want to sleep so much, if I was thinner, if I dressed well, if I was sexier, if I wasn’t me, he would love me. These were the silent tracks that ran in the back of my mind until that crushing voice was louder than reason.
I’m a firm believer that we learn the most when lessons are learned the hard way. The wise parents and grandparents of the world can tell us over and over how to keep ourselves from heartache, but we never understand until we suffer it ourselves. My divorce saved my life. I, like most 20-something and newly-single women, dove into a discovery period where I become who I never was and therefore always wanted to be. While my period of rebellion is tinted with embarrassment, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I did everything exciting that I could while knowing I couldn’t deny my values. The internal conflict was confusing and thrilling. I skinny dipped on private property, marveled as reckless teenagers tripped on ‘shrooms, and laughed drunkenly as I stared at swirling stars in the night sky. I felt the full gamut of emotions, but most importantly, remembered what it is like to feel alive.
I knew after my few months of testing the waters of a typical teenager, in my early twenties as marrying my high school sweetheart who was also a pastor’s child doesn’t exactly leave time for teenage experimentation, that I was trying to pretend this poisonous world was something beautiful. I had lived an almost complete life, too quickly, too well-planned, which made the ending of my first try at life that much more shocking and heartbreaking. Now, after a year’s worth of therapy and soul-searching, I’ve realized many things. I learned to put pride away and that therapy is helpful, and just plain necessary, for almost every person on this planet. I learned that we are all hypocrites and weall have double-standards. I learned that I took everything too seriously. Most importantly, I’ve learned that there is hope and beauty in the world, but it has to be approached with caution. Life isn’t to be rushed. Life is best experienced in the moment with moderate pre-planning, but with plenty of resilience. It isn’t what this world throws at us that is most important, but how we choose to react to those events. As my dad, a marine, would say, “Improvise, adapt, and overcome.”
I plan to record this journey. I’m not sure why, other than that it would have been great to have known someone like me while I was going through all that I am. I want to record the changes in my life as I’ve gotten a grasp on my self-confidence and as I start to change more of my behavior. I recently found out that I am insulin resistant, which sounds like just a health issue. It’s slowly dawning on me that this may have shaped who I have been and the emotional issues I’ve struggled with. I start medication soon to regulate my insulin levels and want to note what changes I experience so that maybe I can help other people dealing with the same sneaky illness. I thought I was a heavy, lazy, lack-luster, hypochondriac, but it turns out that I’m about to meet the Rachael that I’ve never known, that I’ve always wanted to be. I’m intimidated and excited by the potential that I have and how I’ll improve as a person throughout this process. Let’s see what the new me has to offer, shall we?