2010 was the year I decided I was done.
I was tired of being who I was.
I've always battled with my weight. Between the ages of 15 and 16, I lost 70lbs so that I could be skinny in my graduation picture and on graduation day. I still remember getting on the scale on my graduation day and feeling like it didn't matter what happened that day because the number on the scale was the lowest number I had ever seen. I maintained the number for a couple of years, but then things went downhill. I started gaining weight for no reason. It didn't matter how little I ate, the number on the scale climbed. I panicked. I became depressed. And then the depression got dark. I was tired all the time - REALLY tired - and I could barely stay awake. I was freezing all the time. I'd sit outside on a warm, sunny day curled up in a blanket. I felt like I had a black cloud hanging over my head all the time, and I would randomly start crying. Literally, at the dinner table, enjoying conversation, and then I'd burst into tears. I had panic attacks. I was scared to go anywhere because I wasn't sure if I'd freak out or start randomly crying. I was convinced that I was crazy. I visited a doctor who said there was nothing wrong with me. I visited another doctor who said the same thing. They sent me to a psychiatrist who told me I was suffering a bad break up from a secret boyfriend that I was lying to my mother about. That went over well with us. My depression continued to worsen, and I was at a place where I was scared that I couldn't control it any longer. I wanted to kill myself. My doctor put me on an anti-depressant, which helped. But it didn't explain WHAT was going on. My doctor did one more blood test and the results came back that I had sub-clinical hypothyroidism. I had my answer. Within three weeks of being on Synthroid, I felt amazing. No more depression, no more crazy crying, no more freezing to death. I knew what was wrong with me. I hadn't felt so free in so long. I had started to put the pieces of me back together. I had weathered the storm and made it out alive.
Then a situation happened that profoundly changed me. A man that I knew began putting his hands on me. I did absolutely nothing to encourage it. He'd walk up behind me and massage my neck and shoulders. He'd rub my arms, try to hold my hands, try to kiss my hand. No matter how many times I told him to stop touching me, he didn't get the message. Thankfully, he was removed from my life by men who cared about me. But the damage was done. I felt like he had stolen intimate touches from me. Touches that I had been saving to give to my future husband. I had never been on a date, never held hands with a guy, and this guy blew in to my world and took from me things I was saving. I was so angry that I didn't have the choice to give them to someone I loved because he robbed them from me. I felt such incredible anger at him and especially at God for allowing it to happen. I know now that God used me to be part of this man's downfall so he could hit rock bottom and change his life. I'm genuinely happy for this guy that his life is back on track.
I allowed anger and hurt to rule me for a long time. Subconsciously, I think I decided that if I felt ugly about myself then no man would do that to me again. And the best way for me to feel ugly was to be fat. I also needed a reason why God hadn't given me the one thing I had wanted most: marriage and a family. If I was fat and ugly, then at least I had a reason. Who's attracted to a fat, ugly person? I was in a vicious cycle of food, anger, unforgiveness, and incredible hurt.
By 2010, I realized the damage I was doing to myself. I was about to turn 29, and I just didn't want to live that way anymore. I was tired of drinking the poison of anger, shame, and unforgiveness. I was only hurting myself. I started by forgiving this guy and by asking God for His forgiveness. I know that He doesn't want to hurt me. No where in the Bible does He do anything to intentionally or maliciously harm those who love Him. He wasn't about to start with me. He promises to be with us in the fire, and I blamed Him for something that wasn't His fault. Once I finally came to peace with this, I could move on.
The damage was done. I had gained a significant amount of weight, and I had to face the fact that the number on the scale was not lying. This weight was not who I was. I felt hidden under layers of fat and powerless to change, but I knew that I needed to change, and I had to find a way. I also knew that I had done it before and I could do it again. I decided to do something that scared me: commit to doing a 5K and lay out the cash to prove that I was serious about it. I signed up for the Baltimore Women's Classic 5K, and my goal was to make it across the finish line without passing out and needing them to send a medic to get me halfway through. I joined a training team (hosted by Charm City Run) for beginner/intermediate walkers and had the most fun I'd had in a long time.
This was me on June 27, 2010. I'm smiling, genuinely smiling. And I'm happy, even though I'm hot as blazes and the 101 degree heat was starting to get to me. I'm praying that I can do this. I'm wondering if I will make it. I tried to look cute and athletic, but I wore the wrong pair of shorts - a pair I'd never worn before - and my thighs rubbed together horribly. This is one time when one shouldn't abide by "fashion over function." I endured 3.1 miles of my thighs rubbing together. Chafed thighs are not one of my most favorite memories. If you decide to do a 5K for the first time, test your shorts out first.
But you know what?
I had to slow my roll, but I finished. Me, who doesn't enjoy sweating, was off the couch and walking 3.1 miles in 101 degree heat.
I crossed the finish line, and the feeling of finishing what I had started was one of the best things I had ever felt. I completed my first 5K in 49:16 (15:52 pace). I wasn't thrilled with my time, but I told myself it was a starting point.
I was proud of me for finishing, and I hadn't been proud of myself in a long time.
Read Part 2 of the story here.