When my husband and I got married I weighed 98 pounds. I was 26 years old and weight obsessed. I’d been weight obsessed since the age of 13. To keep myself thin I starved and worked out excessively. I also had periods of binge eating and practicing bulimia. As you might imagine, I wasn’t a happy person. Sort of difficult to be all cheerful when you’re hungry all the time and when your sense of self is so twisted that if you get on a scale and it tells you that you weigh 101 pounds you want to die. After 21 years of doing that to myself I went on an anti depressant that caused me to gain weight. As anti depressants will do sometimes, if they work, mine made me so deliriously well, that I didn’t notice that I’d gained weight until I went to the doctor and got weighed and they told I weighed 149 pounds.
Admittedly my weight had been going up for a while before then. I remember being shocked one day when I got on a scale at my sister’s house and it told me I weighed 119 pounds. I couldn’t believe it. I was so ashamed. I went on a diet, lost the weight; but it kept going up and down during the more difficult periods in my marriage. I would go up to between 115 – 120 for a while, then I would lose the weight and go back to the thin version that everybody was used to; but then came the Paxil and the visit to the doctor and the discovery that I’d ballooned to 149 pounds.
That was a while ago.
Today I choose to maintain a more healthy weight, and by that I don’t just mean healthier than 149 pounds. I also mean more healthy than 98 – 100 pounds. I had to face myself and make a decision to stop abusing myself and punishing myself because of the things going on in my marriage.
During those periods when I gained weight I was looking at myself through the eyes of my husband and seeing myself the way I believed he saw me based on the way he was treating me. Throughout our marriage, he seemed to have no use for me except for sex and for years I dealt with that by going into a place where I became what I felt like I was to him. It’s difficult to actually admit what that was, but suffice to say, we had a lot of sex and there were a lot of orgasms but there was always shame after, because what I was doing was abusing myself, treating myself like sex was the only thing I was good for.
After several years of this I got to a point where I couldn’t do it to myself anymore. I felt like this man I was married, am still married to, was taking advantage of my lack of self esteem and my insecurities in a way that worked perfectly for him. He was keeping me depressed because, as long as I hated myself, he was having great sex because I was still dealing with my obsessions with weight so although I was in a cycle of gaining and losing, I never really got fat. In fact because I was so thin to begin with, the weight that I was gaining was making me hotter to him so it was all the more enjoyment for him. For me though, the mental and emotional abuse I felt like I was suffering at his hands kept getting harder and harder to bear. I felt like my husband did not value me. I felt like I was nothing more than my body to him. He would treat me like crap in the day and screw me at night. Telling myself that was what I deserved made it possible for me to endure it, even enjoy the sex; but the daytime abuse dragged me further and further down into the dumps until it got to where I couldn’t find any energy to care any more about how I looked.
I used to enjoy working out, dancing in my little shorts knowing my husband would come around and slap my ass or give some other sign of appreciation, but once it got pressed into my mind that it wasn’t “me” he was appreciating, it was just the body that he was going to be using, I didn’t care what condition that body was in any more.
So I had a period between losing the weight I had gained on Paxil and maintaining my current weight, when I actually went back to the Paxil weight without the aide of Paxil. And during that period I would not have cared to try to loose an ounce for my husband’s sake. To his credit he never complained about my plumpness; but if he had it wouldn’t have made me try to lose the weight. I did lose it because I needed to be healthy for me. I needed to wake up and stop abusing myself. I needed to stop punishing myself over my marriage and my relationship with my husband and start valuing myself and giving myself the love, respect and positive attention I was craving from my husband but felt like I wasn’t receiving. That my husband benefits from my health is a side effect I should want to live with anyway. We’re supposed to want to be at our best and in our best health for each other, but sometimes when someone takes you for granted and they fail to truly appreciate you, when they don’t value you or they diminish your sense of self worth by the way they treat you, it can be hard to want to please them in any way.