Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Aha Moments...

Sometimes, life's "Aha" moments come from the most unlikeliest places. I've done a lot of soul searching in my lifetime, largely due to experiences I've had to endure that I wished I hadn't, and the fallout from those times. Last night though, I caught Jillian Micheal's new show and decided to see what it was all about.

The premise of the show is that Jillian visits families that are overweight, for the span of one week. Unlike "Biggest Loser" where she has months to understand and transform them, this show is crammed into a shorter time frame and she needs to push to the heart of the "weight" matters quickly.

The daughter in the family had undergone gastric bypass surgery and was now a much smaller person. However, that hadn't changed her head space and she struggled with accepting that she was attractive and deserved happiness and love. As Jillian pushed her to confront herself, a choked answer came to her lips, with prompting. She realized that she never dreamed or hoped for things for herself (like love or true happiness) because when those things are given, they get taken away. It's the idea that you insulate your heart from the inevitability of loss that you've experienced so many times before.

Aha! I mean, I already knew this about myself. I have walls so high I can't imagine who would be able to claw their way in to my fortress. I've often sabotaged myself in life because I felt happiness would elude me anyways, which of course became a self fulfilled prophecy. It's not that I feel like I don't deserve happiness, in my case it's that it's been taken from my grasp so many times that I don't dare even hope for it anymore.

That of course also led me to Aha moment #2 which dealt with weight, and my personality in general.

As a kid, I was a pretty uber confident, cocky and challenging kid. I liked being the best, doing well and trying new things. I was the kid in my family that was always getting into some sort of mischief. It wasn't out of malice, in my case, it was more out of curiosity and feeling secure in who I was and my place in the world. In fact, when I tell friends now some of the scrapes I got myself into and the risks I took, they can't even believe it and often say, incredulously, "You???"

That all changed when I was nine. I'm surprised actually that people who knew me from birth to nine didn't see a huge shift in my general "being," but if they did, nobody said anything. That year, I was molested. I don't want to get into a whole big revelation or anything. I'm seriously way past it, but it coloured the rest of my life, and still does really. At least, it's coloured who I am or who I've become. I felt like it should be a secret and that it was too shameful to talk about with family, friends or even myself. I've realized as an adult that it's not ME that should be embarrassed or shamed by what happened, though my basic personality is to keep things private.

But back to the Aha. Since that day, I changed. I became someone who was cautious, who's confidence was shattered, who was always nervous and worried. I became afraid to take chances and leaps. Most of all, I stopped hoping and dreaming for that fairy tale for myself. My innocence was taken that day, and life as I knew it severely changed. I've been cynical as long as I can remember, and some days I wonder if that's when I developed that personality trait. I scoff at romances and love stories and I don't dream big dreams of happiness and wonderful things. I don't reach out for the brass ring, likely because I don't believe it exists. It's been my experience that most things that appear good really turn out not to be at all. It's like Jillian said-I stopped hoping for good things for myself, because I was unable to deal with the fact, again, that they'd be taken from me.

That also goes hand in hand with weight. I was a kid that didn't worry about weight. I loved playing ball and running and being physical. If it was a nice day (or not) you could catch me outside for hours. The year following that time though, I started to insulate myself from puberty and sexuality. I put on a little weight, subconsciously blaming myself for the molestation. I continued this pattern in high school, at the time so uncomfortable with the fact that I had a large chest and it seemed to be a focal interest for boys and men alike. Again, I went through a year or two where I gained weight and tried to be as invisible as possible. It's conflicting because I acted precociously other times, but if you know anything about sexual abuse, that kind of goes hand in hand. My self-esteem was at an all-time low and I both coveted and ran from male interest. Eventually, I lost the weight and started university and felt, or at least acted, like I was all good inside, and out. I read self help books and went to counselling. I tried to figure myself out, basically. I've come to know as much about "me" as anyone would want to without being self indulging or self absorbed.

My point in revealing this isn't to garner sympathy or to illicit a pity party. As I said, it's really a long time ago for me and I've really made peace with it all plenty of years back. My AHA moment was that, while I've dealt intellectually with all of the fallout, I haven't taken strides to change emotionally in terms of taking leaps of faith. I've started trying to push myself again, just in silly ways. I'm also a perfectionist who likes to do things "perfectly" the first time and feel like I look like a fool if I don't master something from Moment 1. That, coupled with my fears of risk, have stopped me from truly reaching limits I'd have once never even doubted reaching. It's time to get that little girl back, and her crazy, risky, "why not" attitude.

It's baby steps, for now. There are some things I'd like to do and accomplish that I've been too afraid to even attempt so I've procrastinated on them. There are things I'd like to try but looking like an idiot has stopped me from getting out there and doing. There are walls and layers and bubble wrap around my heart and soul that need to be pried free, one at a time. I'm not looking for an overhaul or to become a "new" person. I'm just looking at becoming the real me again. The "me" that one stupid, selfish act stole from me. I can't keep living in fear or worry or thinking contentment is the impossible dream, or only available to others. If happiness can be taken from you, than instead of feeling like I shouldn't bother, I should feel like I should take it while I can, right? That's what I'm going to attempt, anyways.

There's a whole world out there waiting. It's been put off long enough, too long. It's time to reclaim my space within it and take power away from those who tried to steal it from my grasp.

One moment, one layer, one a time.

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