I was going through some old photos the other day and came upon a picture that made me do a double take. It was a picture of me about 10 years ago, probably, and I was really overweight (in a masterful twist of fate, the picture shows me standing with my fridge door open – go fig). The main thing that struck me was just how incredibly overweight I was. In part, it struck me because of how far I’ve come -I can definitely tell the difference – but there’s also the inexplicable fact that at the time, I had no idea I had gained so much weight.
How can that be, you might well ask. I am not really sure. I knew that I wasn’t doing a lot to help myself out. Long hours in grad school and a very nearby coffee shop that served cafe mochas were part of the problem. I didn’t exercise – walking was a pretty big deal for me back then (as in, “I walked, therefore I can have more bad food”). But I didn’t really see that I was getting out of control.
I find that rather worrisome. But I think this happens to everybody in one way or another. Some people might gain a lot of weight. Some people might go within themselves and stop reaching out to people. Some people might hurt themselves. Sometimes, when you get really stuck in your own head, the world can become very small and every event can become very very large. It’s easy to lose track of how many cookies you’ve had or how long it’s been since you’ve eaten.
Recover and forgive yourself
It would be really easy for me to look back at the person I was 10 years ago and be furious. “Why did you eat at Wendy’s so much?” “Why didn’t you exercise when your big plans for the day included “take 30-minute nap?” I could go on and on. I could be really hard on the me of a decade ago. But in the end, looking back and yelling at our old selves doesn’t really make us feel better about ourselves today. Really, it’s picking the scab off of the old wounds that brought us to that point.
There was a lot going on with me ten years ago. Academically, health-wise, life-wise…it was a tough time. I had a $10 budget for grocery shopping every week for awhile there. So, while I could have made better choices, and while I know those better choices *now,* I have to cut myself some slack. I have to remember what it was like to be that person at that time, and I have to realize how much I’ve changed.
I bet if you are thinking about a time when you weren’t happy with yourself, or if you aren’t happy with yourself now, that you could find reasons to forgive yourself. Understand, this is not the same as making excuses. Bad decisions are bad decisions. But sometimes life gives us a little more than we are comfortable with and we need to learn to walk and breathe and live and shift with that new burden that can be so hard to wrap our arms around.
If you are not happy with yourself now, as I was not too happy ten years ago, take heart. Take hope. Ten years later, I am still not where I want to be, but boy am I working hard. Every day I try to make a move to get myself to that place I’m shooting for. Some days are more victorious than others, but I keep plowing ahead. I keep taking pictures in the now, and they wipe out that picture from the past. If I can do that, I know you can too.
The first step is to not beat yourself up. The second step is to forgive yourself. And the third step – the third step is to start working the problem. Seek help. Be honest with yourself. Try to take a baby step every day moving forward.
In retrospect, I’m glad I found that picture. It is good to remember where you’ve come from just as it’s good to remember where you’re going.
Don’t lose track of where you’re going. Don’t lose hope. And don’t give up.
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kalexanderson/5421517469/ via Creative Commons