The Pit in My Stomach

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My relationship with my body has no doubt been an interesting one. Self-esteem has never been something that has come easily and the one thing I hate more my limp sometimes is my stomach. Because of my MD, I was born with a curve in my spine. As a result, my stomach sticks out. Even when I was super thin in college or as a kid, my stomach was always there. There was just one glorious summer when I was in community college that I did Pilates (well, my limited version of it anyway) that it actually got pretty much flat.

As I’ve gotten older and put on more weight, unfortunately a lot of it has gone to my stomach. You would think I would look more proportional now but I don’t. It still sticks out like this round, bulbous thing on the front of me, even when I try to suck in. Over the years, I’ve grown ok with my skin, my curly hair and even my small cup size and my semi-large thighs. But the one thing I haven’t been able to shake hating is my stomach. I’ve gotten to the point where I accept that no matter what I do, it’s never going to go away. No amount of water aerobics or eating healthy is going to fix it. I’ve had to accept it’s another part of my MD. Something else I have no control over.

If I’m not sucking it in, it legitimately looks like I’m pregnant; something I was actually asked over the weekend. It’s one thing when you think something in your head. We are our harshest critics sometimes after all. But to have someone else verbalize the worst thought you’ve had about one of your physical traits is pretty soul crushing. You start to wonder if everyone else thinks you’re pregnant too. It’s even worse when you don’t even want/aren’t physically able to have kids anyway. The whole rest of that day, I was keenly aware of my MD. Every time I got out of a chair, I noticed everyone staring at me. I felt my limp. All things I can brush off on most days and not care about. These kinds of things, no matter the intent of the person on the other end, stick with you too. Just like when the girl at my high school said “eww” when she saw who the person was that shared her last name. Just like all those times people have said insensitive things about my limp and about my disability. It’s a cruel fact of life that sometimes the bad stuff is what sticks with us more than the good stuff.

It’s funny…with all of the things about my MD that I hate, a poochy stomach really should be pretty low down on the list. But sometimes it’s those physical attributes that show the world that you’re different (or imperfect) that can be the hardest to deal with. My limp tells the world there’s something wrong and so does my stomach.

photo credit: Leanne Surfleet via photopin (license)

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2 thoughts on “The Pit in My Stomach

  1. Jackie,

    Thank you for sharing. I really admired reading your experience and the courageousness you have for posting this. Your story hit home with me. As a teenager, I definitely suffered with low self-esteem and body issues. My body was never good enough for me or for my peers. It became exhausting having to always think about what part of my body needed change. After my teenage years were over, the thought of having the perfect body was still pushed on me. However, you are right. we are our own worst critics. We are harsh on ourselves, but why should we be? Why am I not good enough for love, especially for me to love myself the way I am? These are questions that I would ask myself. Then I realized that, especially as a woman, or even adding a diagnosis to a person, society and media shows an unrealistic portrait of how a woman should be. Perhaps this is why people made comments about the both of us on how we should look, because our culture has depicted an image of what and how we should look and act. The fact is that we all come in different shapes and sizes. We are all very different. Our differences add a uniqueness to us. Your uniqueness has allowed millions of people the opportunity to read your story and admire and learn from. An individual who is strong to share their personal thoughts and stories to the whole world, now that is beautiful to me!

    I wish you the best on your journey and nothing but beautiful experiences of self-love and happiness. Thanks again for sharing!
    -Delilah

  2. Dear Jackie,

    Thank you for sharing your story. I’m so sorry that your MD has subjected you to the harsh comments and insensitivity of others. While no one should ever have to endure this kind of cruelty, I think your story offers a valuable lesson to the rest of us. Many people often forget to consider that a person with a disability is still a person, and they deserve to be treated as such. I encourage you to continue advocating for yourself and others with MD or other disabilities. Your words are powerful, and can help educate others about the negative impact that their comments or actions can have. My hope is that one day your inner critic will be silenced and others will build you up with positive comments instead of tearing you down with criticism.

    I admire you strength and I’m sending positive thoughts your way. Best of luck to you!

    Christine

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