Coming Out of the Closet

Originally published Thursday, 03 April 2014.

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Sometimes rooms are big enough to ignore the elephants living in them. But my counselor's office was small. Too small. Like a closet.

And, as we all know, if you walk into a closet with an elephant, there is no way you're ignoring that gray beast. No sense in even trying.

Even though I tried to cover it up, my counselor was able to find his way down to the bottom of my insecurity issues pretty quickly. Later, he told me he could tell that about me from the start. Not by my appearance, of course. Just by the way I crossed my legs in the plush chair and used a pillow to cover the bottom half of my stomach.

I've done that for as long as I can remember.

You see, it was there in that closet-room of healing that I discovered that my deepest fear of rejection, my hurt pride, the sense of not being good enough or well-liked comes from the elephant I've been trying to ignore: my weight.

For the past few months, I've really been focusing on writing to encourage women in alternate stages of life. I've been writing for the single girls who are dealing with job pressures and finding their purpose in the midst of struggling with loneliness or bitterness. I write these things because I so need to take my own advice. I write these things because if I don't, I'll be too absorbed by it all.

While my weight has been a no-no topic for me, even with my closest friends and family, I'm sharing it with you all today to talk about this insecurity that has held me back because I feel a little bit brave today.

Plus, how can I make it my mission to walk with other women in their deepest struggles if I'm not even willing to face my own?

I've been close to thirty pounds overweight for a long time. I was diligent at fighting the weight around my waist at first. And then it seemed like I was fighting a losing battle. Me against my mind, soul and body.

It just was a lot easier to pretend I was comfortable in my own skin than to actually work through my issues. It was easier to stay in a closet of clothes I wished were smaller rather than being up front with my daily fears.

My mind would constantly race with questions.

Am I the biggest girl in the room?

Is my lower back peeking through the top of my pants?

Are they watching me eat this slice of pizza and thinking to themselves that I should lay off and eat a salad?

Would they love me more if I were thinner?

Then, approximately nine weeks ago, I decided enough was enough. My feigned confidence wasn't going to last me the rest of my twenties. I have goals of book publishing, I have career goals, I have love and laughter to give.

What I mean is that I have stuff to do and I wasn't going to let those thirty pounds rule over me anymore.

So, at the suggestion from a dear friend, I downloaded the Couch to 5K training program on my phone (I highly recommend for anyone looking to begin a safe and manageable running program) and began running.

Well, okay. It was more like tip-toeing on a treadmill at that point, but I started.

One minute walking, one minute running. For eight minutes. Last night, after weeks of hard work and blistered feet and numb fingers and runny noses, I ran for forty minutes. Straight. Forty minutes. Me. The girl who was so comfortable hiding within her skin that she didn't see much use in trying to change anything about her circumstances.

The same girl who, a few weeks ago, was so nervous for her first twenty minute run that she barely slept the night before.

But when I got through it, I felt hungry. Not for food, but to continue going.

"Congratulations," the robot trainer voice said through my ear buds at the end of the run. "You've run for twenty straight minutes. You can call yourself a real runner now."

And I cried. Right there on the edge of that sidewalk.

Because with every step I was wriggling loose bit by bit of this capsule I never thought I would release from.

I cried for those years of feeling second-rate and worthless because of those extra pounds and two-digit dress sizes.

I'm not perfect, obviously. I still have a long way to go. But I will run my very first race next month. And the part of me that told myself I couldn't do things because I looked, behaved or ate a certain way is getting smaller.

This is what it looks like to escape uncertainty: the first step is to acknowledge it. You can do it. The miles that I run are living, active proof.

photo credit: San Diego Shooter via photopin cc

photo credit: Shemer via photopin cc