Ageing is viewed as a negative part of life in our western society. So much so that we are taught to hate ourselves for getting older. We hate the lines that appear at the side of our ages, be repulsed by the sagging of our skin and disappointed that the best of us that has left behind. This isn’t an Angela thing – it is so inground in our society that we dread it and take extreme measures to combat it. Well many of us do …. But not me. Not because I am adverse to borrowing a little help to defy the ageing process – but because I have an anxiety disorder that tells me that I will definitely be the one who ends up looking like a puffa fish when I have opted for a little lift. So instead I chose the option that many of us do – I chose to hate myself! I chose to begin to cover up more, go out less, take fewer photos and accept my place in life that I am no longer attractive, and I no longer have a right to be happy with myself aesthetically.
I was ok with this. After all, I am not young – I have had my time, I am nearly the end of my 30’s and as a result it is somewhat uncouth to flaunt your good looks anyway – right? The problem with this acceptance – is that I cared less and therefore I sunk even further into the pit of self-loathing that I ever thought possible.
I stopped weighing myself, it didn’t matter how much I weighed now – did it? This resulted in a large rise of weight of about 2 stones in 2 years (ridiculously unhealthy for anyone). I no longer wore make up (surely that would just look like was trying to look attractive – and the last thing I wanted was somebody looking at me anyway). I stopped buying new clothes – I knew that there was no attire on this planet that could cover up the mess that I had become and so I decided not to try. And of course, I was in a permanent eternal winter, where shaving was un—necessary, there was definitely nobody I would allow near and my clothes would keep it out of view anyway.
And of course, I stopped having sex! This definitely needs a paragraph of its own. Maybe it is harder for the men reading this to understand than it will be for the women to understand – but sex for most women is psychological. Not only do you need to have feelings for that person (or maybe a connection at the least), but you need to have feelings for yourself too. I feel sad to admit at times, that I felt that my husband was taking pity on me, or simply fulfilling his physical desire to have sex. I truly couldn’t imagine how he could feel any different. I wanted sex to be basic and over quickly, so that I wouldn’t have to feel his hands trace my curves, or imagine the thoughts of repulsion circling his head.
And it wasn’t just about things that I didn’t do. It was much more about my feelings towards myself. And Jesus, were those unhealthy! And I must say, upon reflection, that I feel so sorry for that woman. A woman who felt so disgusted in the vehicle that she was carrying her through life, that she decided to physically hide it from view and constantly bully and intimidate it with reminders of how worthless and disgusting she was. Whilst there will always be people that cast these aspergions to you, surely the one person who should always love you …. is you!
So what goes wrong, when you suddenly realise how much you hate yourself. Well that bit was easy, I threw myself into things I did like about my life, my family and my work primarily. And the distraction was so welcomed that it became obsessional. I immersed myself in things that I could control, because it was so much easier than the things that I felt I couldn’t control. I couldn’t speed back up my metabolism, the more I dieted the fatter I got, my bones had begin to ache and exercise seemed like something that was way beyond my capability (despite sadly being only 39!!). The more I worked, the less I looked after myself, and the more I isolated myself from relationships. Not just my marriage, but my friendships too. Because friendships meant nights out, outfits, photos!!! That had all become so uncomfortable that I would do anything to avoid it.
The realisation that I had hit this point in my life, did not come on my decline, but only at my rock bottom (or maybe my husband will say at the purchase of my large pants). Some sensibility kicked in that I had not managed to grasp before. I felt sorry for me, I felt cruel and I wanted to fix myself, I realised that I didn’t deserve the constant humiliating, the shrouding, the refusal to allow myself to dare to even respect my new self. And that, quite possibly, nobody found my being as repulsive as I found myself. I’m an educator, and something that I reminded myself was – if you tell somebody something enough, they will believe it. I allowed that dress size, those pounds on the scales and my rolls of flab to tell me that I was a lesser being in society. And I truly, truly believed it. It was clearly time to practise what I preached. It was time to love myself, forgetting what other people may or may not have thought and just to see what would happen. Like I had with so many young minds under my wing.
And , the process has begun. I have taken myself back to my hairdressers, tamed the leg hair, bought some new clothes, and whilst putting make up on initially seems like an effort – I can’t believe how different it made me feel (once I had moved beyond the ‘feeling like a transvestite stage’ of course. I have used some of my time to ease myself into exercise through Yoga (maybe that bit is a middle-aged thing – considering I have given up the pole) and I aim to build back up into a good exercise routine. I aim to go back to caring about what I pull on in a morning, ensure my hair is brushed and to lavish my skin with crème if it is needed. And as for sex, well maybe I need to work on me before I can work on anybody else – and maybe that is ok.
But it is important that you understand that I didn’t wake up with a cure. I woke up with a realisation – the realisation that I didn’t deserve to be hated …. Definitely not by myself.