The Absence of Shame

Earlier today I found this article via a friend (Jen Desmarais of Jeneric designs) and it got me thinking.  I imagine it had the effect on most people who read it, going by the comments.  It talks about body image and self-acceptance.

This is a particularly evil demon for me on several counts.

The first is weight.  In the last several years I’ve gained a lot of weight.  I am most certainly *overweight*. And while I’d like to go on about how it doesn’t matter because I’m fit and healthy, the fact of the matter is, that’s very likely not true.  Not if my body fat percentage or my ability to run without losing my breath is any indication.

It matters to me because it makes me feel unattractive.  It affects my self-image.  And it doesn’t matter that for the most part the weight gain is a side-effect of antidepressants.  It’s technically “not my fault”, and yet I’d give anything to be thin like I used to be.

I won’t lie; I resent my tiny, thin, fit friends sometimes, which isn’t good of course.  We are all cursed in the same way, we all have our own body image issues.  But damn I miss having a flat stomach and small thighs.  I miss being able to shop in regular stores instead of plus sized stores.  I miss feeling put together instead of lumpy and frumpy.

But I’m trying to do something about it, so at least there’s that.  But I worry that I could fall into a pattern of just not eating to get the weight off.  It’s a demon that lurks in the background despite all knowledge and logic telling me that is NOT the way to go.

So instead I joined Weight Watchers.  Again.  I downloaded the Pact app – which charges you $5/day for each day you miss at the gym. I wear my fitbit religiously.  I imagine myself as Starbuck, needing to be fit and in shape to be a badass.

I’m doing my best, like a lot of us are.  And it’s still hard.

My other body image issue is my disability.  I have Cerebral Palsy.  Yes, I talk about it a lot.  It’s had a huge impact on my life in a multitude of ways.

For the longest time it never bothered me.  I never gave it a second thought.  When I was a kid others would ask why I “walked funny” but I had no concept of that because I had never seen myself walk.  Until I did.

I think it was grade 7 or 8, I have no idea what it was for but we were being videotaped for something and the video was played back for us.  And when I saw myself walking for the first time I almost cried. I felt I lacked all grace.  I walked like Igor, and looked like a monster (and no, please don’t chime in here with how you “never even noticed” because while that’s great and all, not what the post is for).

I still can’t stand to watch myself on tape.  I simply refuse to if I can. I know I look like I’m drunk when I walk (as any number of bars).  It bothers me that much.  I don’t want to cry over it anymore, but it’s not something I celebrate.

My therapist once asked me if I go to Pride, and if so, why do I go?  And I responded that because as a queer woman I was proud of who I am and what I had fought through to get where I am today.  And then he asked me one simple question: Why don’t I feel that way about my disability?

I couldn’t answer him.  And it occurred to me in that moment that I was ashamed to have a disability.

I have vowed to work on that.

And if I cannot have pride in what I have overcome, at least I can have the absence of shame.


2 thoughts on “The Absence of Shame”

  1. I think that when you have a disability, no matter how beautiful, or fit, or smart, funny or talented you are, and no matter what you accomplish, you are always going to be that “friend with a disability” or “my daughter with *that* weakness” to some people, and even to yourself. That’s how I have always felt, and will probably always feel. It can be very difficult, in my opinion, to not feel ashamed of having a disability. It can be a hard, if not impossible, feeling to overcome. I have been working to overcome my shame and self – esteem issues since I was 9. I honestly believe I never really will, but I keep trying everyday.

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