On Self-Bullying

Yesterday, Wednesday, was my birthday and my choice of birthday eve activity was attending a wonderful yoga class. Usually, I work Wednesday nights but by sheer coincidence, kismet or luck, I had the day off.

I chose to spend the day alone – I have a very love/hate bittersweet relationship with my birthday. But I knew for sure that I wanted to take yoga.

I’ve only gone to this class a few times, but the teacher is amazing – so spiritual and a real healer. After the first class I took, I felt fear lift and the very next day, I accepted my current job which for months I’d been too scared to take, sure that I wasn’t good enough. But suddenly, I wasn’t afraid.

Last night, during the relaxation part of the class, ideas began floating through my mind. I thought about childhood obesity, a topic I think about a lot. Fat kids get bullied (I know from excruciating experience), both my other kids and (often well-meaning) adults. When one hears over and over that you desperately need to lose weight and shouldn’t eat this or that or you absolutely must exercise more, you begin to believe you’re not good enough just as you are. Other kids, who are left alone, seem to be more lovable and… better.

Lying there on my yoga mat last night, I began to wonder how best I could help today’s hurting kids — is the work in helping them lose weight through understanding why they overeat? helping them like themselves as they are? or is the real work with the bullies who torment fat kids?

I began to think about my own torment in being the fat kid – all the teasing and cruel jokes and how embarrassed I was by way too big body. I remembered all the diets I tried, all the clothes I bulged out of and how much I believed I disappointed my family. Just because I had a big fat ugly body.

Suddenly last night, I realized that I was lying on my mat with the biggest bully of all – me. It hit me how I’ve tortured myself my whole life. I have been nothing but cruel to my poor body for as long as I can remember. I’ve hated it my whole fucking life! Too big. Too fat. Fat pig.

Even now, I’ve wanted it so small and yelled at myself every time it’s grown. Even yesterday, buying bras, I was horrible, apologizing to the saleswoman about how big and droopy and lopsided my breasts are.

And what about how I’ve treated my body over the years? All the diuretics and laxatives and puking?

Who was the bully? ME

There on my yoga mat, I began to sob. I started apologizing to myself, over and over and experienced such sorrow for the fat child I’d loathed for so long – that lost, heartbroken, deeply sad little one who’d only wanted unconditional love.

“I love you”, I repeated over and over, meaning it for the very first time, at 54.

All of this happened without effort or thought. I feel like a different person now. What a revelation. What a call to kindness. How could I have been of real service to others without first loving and accepting myself?


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