For most of my life, I have struggled with my weight and now identify as a food addict in recovery.
I've had a long, winding journey in my relationship with my body. I likely suffer from body dysmorphia. When I was at my heaviest, I thought I wasn't “that heavy" or that I was at least fooling those around me. Now that I am the smallest I've ever been in my adult life, I still think I take up more space than I actually do.
It’s a weird juxtaposition of reality and perception.
When I was in middle school, I had a reoccurring dream that I was in the hallway at school, and kids were making fun of me for being fat. I would unzip my skin and step out of a fat suit.
“Guys,” I would say with a dismissive laugh, “that's not even me. This is me.”
My husband, Judah, is someone who is genetically fit. He was a gymnast and then a dancer in high school and into college, so I used to joke that he lifted girls for a living. He didn't have to go to the gym.
To his credit, he has always loved me, pursued me, and found me attractive, no matter my weight. Even through most of those years when I couldn’t understand how he might possibly find my frame attractive. I was self-conscious and self-critical of my body composition. The one “good” thing that seemed to come from the extra weight was my “big boobs”, which most men I knew would point out.
Early in our marriage, we were laying in bed, spooning. He’s usually the big spoon, and I’m the little one. (Honestly, I don’t understand how people manipulate their bed-side arm to be the big spoon! I have a hypothesis that men have a dislodging mechanism in their shoulders that allows them to spoon for more than a minute without losing feeling in their arm and having to shift.)
I love spooning. Such a sweet, cuddly way to be close to the one you love.
The tricky part, if you’re body-conscious, is that laying on your side causes gravity to invite all the extra fat and skin to settle into the bed. I would hold my stomach in, not sure what my long-game plan was. I had to relax at some point, right?
Judah maneuvered his free, top hand under my arm and pulled me in close. We settled into a steady stream of measured breathing, without trying to.
Judah is the romantic in the relationship and has often remarked over the years about these small wonders in marriage. These sweet gifts of intimacy. Of the two of us, he is the one most likely to tenderly point them out.
“I have your breast in my hand.”
A sharp inhalation. My body went from relaxed and revered to rigid.
“That’s not my boob! That’s my stomach!”
In the moment, I felt hurt, exposed, and ashamed. If my boobs were “big” and he thought he was holding one, what did that say about my stomach?!
Luckily, Judah takes most things in stride and doesn’t get worked up. He actually laughed at his faux pax and my dramatic-to-him response.
Thankfully, we have a healthy marriage and were able to laugh about it. Over the years, we have continued to laugh about it. We will be laying in bed, Judah will snuggle up to spoon, wrap his arm around me, and I’ll let him know what he’s holding in his hand before he risks a guess!