My first day back on my yoga mat after Christmas holidays left me feeling like a stranger in my own body. Things that came naturally to me before my break – downward facing dog, mountain pose – left me feeling like a poser (and not in the good, yoga poser kind of way.)
I didn’t remember how to hold my body. I didn’t remember what to do with my hands. I didn’t remember what felt right and good. It was disconcerting, but it wasn’t the first time I’ve felt like I’m wearing a suit of skin and muscle that is somehow removed from myself.
I felt that way when I got fat.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been heavier than I like (even that time the scale read 129 lbs seven or eight years ago, and I did a little dance for joy and then promptly gained back all the weight I’d lost.) But after my wedding, I became the poster girl for letting myself go.
It wasn’t intentional, not really. I didn’t say to myself one day, “Welp, I’ve landed myself a husband. Thank the gods, I can let myself go.”
It was actually worse than that, in a way. I can say now that I love my husband and I’m glad we got married, but at the time, after my wedding, I felt like my life was over.
We were living in a little one-bedroom condo with no hope of getting a house anytime soon. I was in a job that I enjoyed, but there was no chance of progression anytime soon. We didn’t want kids. We had no money to travel. We had nothing to look forward to.
So I lost all hope for my life and let myself go.
I ate too much and drank too much and played way too much World of Warcraft. I numbed myself to the pain of a hopeless life and disconnected completely from the way I was feeling.
And suddenly, I didn’t recognize myself anymore. I didn’t know how to move in my own body. I didn’t remember how to feel comfortable in my skin. I hid myself away, ashamed of who I had become.
But a funny thing has happened since then. The darkness of my depression has mostly passed, and I’ve had to come to terms with the way my body looks. That doesn’t mean I’ve given up. On the contrary, it means that I’m finally trying to take care of myself – without fad diets, without insane workout regimes, without pills and near-starvation. It means I’m trying to tune into what makes my body feel good – going to yoga, walking, eating whole foods – and doing more of those things.
It means that I no longer hide myself away. I buy clothes that fit and make me feel good. I hang out with people (even skinny girls who make me feel self-conscious.) It’s strange: I’m more comfortable in my skin now, at my heaviest weight, than I was eight years ago at my lowest.
In the end, letting myself go has given me the freedom to be who I am, regardless of my weight. Letting myself go has released me from the self-imposed prison of “when I lose weight, I’ll do this or that.”
Letting myself go has finally brought me back to myself.