To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man. – William Shakespeare
I hate having my picture taken. I know a lot of people say that, but I really mean it. I have refined the art of being aware of the presence of any camera in the room at all times, and making sure that I manage to avoid having it pointed in my direction. I also seem to have a sixth sense when it comes to knowing that someone has secretly managed to get me in the frame of their shot and is about to take a picture of me. As a result, my friends have many pictures of me like this:
Consequently, since I don’t allow many pictures of me to be taken, I don’t have many pictures of myself around my house. There is one picture of me that I do keep on display in my room. It sits on my bookshelf, diretly in my line of site no matter where I am in my bedroom. It is this picture:
This picture was taken 10 years ago. It is one of the few times in my adult life that I was thin. Now you might think that the reason I keep this picture on display, despite the fact I am no longer with the guy in the picture, is because I am thin. And you would be right, partly. This picture reminds me of who I use to be. The girl in this picture had a lot of issues, but she also had a lot of qualities that I admire, qualities about myself that I seem to have gotten away from. I don’t want to be that girl again, because despite the smile on her face she was a very unhappy person. She made a lot of really stupid mistakes, did a lot of things that hurt other people and, to be frank, she was a drunk. However, having said all that she had a strong sense of who she was, she took no bullshit from people, and at the end of the day she was who she was. She made no apologies for it, she accepted all her faults and her attitude was if you didn’t like it that was your tough luck. She was strong. She was independent. She went out into the world and did the things she enjoyed. This is what I miss. This is what this picture serves to remind me.
Now you might be asking yourself, what does this have to do with my current struggles and health problems. The answer is absolutely nothing, and absolutely everything. You see almost eight years ago I made a decision that changed the trajectory of my life forever. I decided to stop drinking. I want to be absolutely clear here, I in no way regret this decision. I am a far better person for doing it, and every day I am grateful for making that choice. And as much as it has brought me so many gifts, it has also brought a plenty of challenges.
You see one of the many reasons I drank was to cover up the feelings of anxiety, insecurity and never feeling like I was enough. Once I stopped drinking all of those feelings were still there – only now I didn’t have my “medication” (booze) to keep them at bay. As a result all of those feelings have been building and building over the last few years. I have never truly dealt with any of them. Instead I have spent the last few years finding new ways to “medicate” them or even just plain ignored them. In the end all this did was make me more anxious, insecure and unhappy with who I was. I lost that girl who accepted who she was, faults and all, consequences be damned.
I stopped fighting for myself. I stopped being in my own corner. Instead, I became the opponent who was beating me senseless round after round. And so, I stopped looking after myself. I allowed my insecurity and fears to take control. I gave it the power to rule my life, and then just sat back while it took me down. This is where it has gotten me. I am over 100lbs overweight (I can’t believe I just admitted that), I lost my sense of my identity, I stopped doing any form of exercise and I stopped doing the things I enjoyed doing out of fear of having a panic attack, being judged, being ridiculed or just being deemed not “enough”. All of this has caused my health issues to become so acute.
Which bring me back to my point. While this blog is meant to serve as a chronicle of my journey back to physical health, it also meant to be a record of my exploration into finding out who Ciara is again. Because, as crazy and messed up as she was, she had a lot of great qualities. Qualities I want to rediscover. I am also acutely aware, that unless I work on this side of myself, it doesn’t matter what changes I make to my food and exercise. I could lose another 100lbs, but will end up right back here unless I accept that this journey is about more then just getting my physical body back, it is about getting me back.
And so, I started this post with the quote from Shakespeare. While I know it is corny and cliche, it is also so very true. Unless I can rediscover who I am at my core, learn to love myself again and be that strong independent woman once more, I will never be able to stand proudly in front of anyone else and say “This is who I am, faults and all, either accept me or don’t, but I make no apologies for it.”