Photography by Alise Jane.
Location: Meard St, London.
TW: weightloss, trauma and sexual violence
I've been thinking about doing this post for a while and today I woke up with an insatiable desire to write. To talk about how I feel and honour my heart.
Speaking about bodies and weight is hard, especially when you live in a marginalised one. Being plus size means there is so much focus on what I look like. So much attention and discussion and sometimes it feels like I, and many others are constantly defending our right to exist. It's exhausting to say the least.
I rarely get into discussions anymore on fatphobia, thin privilege and the health VS weight debate because if I'm honest, I cannot be fucking bothered. Of course, there are times I'll mention the fact that Topshop still don't go above a size 16 and you are more likely to die from stress than eating too much chocolate - but overall, I put my mental health first and instead remain in my happy bubble.
But.. my happy bubble is no longer that happy.
The space I'm in right now is new(ish) and difficult and weird and frustrating.
And I guess part of the reason I've been hesitant to talk about this is because I don't want anymore focus on what I look like. I really want my size to just not be apart of me anymore. I want to let it go. I want to not talk about it, or defend it. I don't want it to define me or my life the way it has done any longer.
So writing out these thoughts may look counter productive, but nonetheless, it feels right to do so, so I'm going with that.
Over the past few weeks there has been - what I can only describe, as a growing burning feeling moving up and through my body.
The feeling is similar to anticipation. Like, I'm preparing for change. Like, something new is on the horizon. Something so new I can't really put my finger on it because I've never felt it before.
A few months ago I had a huge realisation during a therapy session, and I haven't stopped thinking about it since.
My trauma has become a really huge part of my identity, and because of that so has my body. As a child most of the attention I received was based on what I could achieve, and what I looked like, so my self worth has always been determined by my career and my size. Because of this, my subconscious has linked suffering with survival, so letting go of the pain, genuinely feels like I am letting go of who I am - even though I know that isn't entirely true.
Throughout my life, in order to escape and feel safe, I have thrown myself into working hard & earning lots of money which is something many trauma survivors do. A big fuck you to everything we've been through and something to focus on other than the pain we feel or the emptiness we experience. Escapism if you will. But previously, I have also used food and weight as a way to survive too, because that's what my child relied on to gain a sense of control.
As my therapist has been supporting me with integrating my inner child and ego with my adult self, I have been slowly but surely trying to unlearn my core belief that in order to stay alive, I have to feel pain. Once I cognitively and logically understood that - the need to suffer and hold onto my trauma began moving from my subconscious mind and into my awareness.
And fucking hell.... what a journey that occurrence has been.
Just knowing that deep down I wanted to hold on to my trauma and create more suffering was really hard for me to deal with. On the one hand it was a light bulb moment because I had an explantation of why I couldn't surrender. But on the other hand I felt immense sadness that somewhere inside of me, I still didn't think I was worthy enough to lead a happy and healthy life.
For the next few sessions, anger and pain poured out of me. I cried, cried some more and then cried again. Recognising that my attachment to everything in life was in suffering and trauma was an uncomfortable find. You know that age old saying? Ignorance is bliss. Well, now that so much stuff had been bought into my awareness, I felt like I was dying.
And parts of me still are. Parts of myself that trauma created. This false sense of reality that pain will bring. It is all slowly but surely melting away and I am trying my hardest to let it, instead of holding on to my suffering because I believe it needs to be with me in order to survive. My trauma for my entire life has been the reason I have got out of bed in the morning. The reason I've worked hard. Being 'different' and looking 'different' is deeply ingrained in my success. Would I be the Grace everyone loves if it wasn't for all my overcoming? My pain has constantly been turned into passion. So will I have any drive without pain?
And that brings me onto my size. And how the last few months of letting go, have manifested into my relationship with the way I look and experience my body.
I've reached a point where I feel my body represents my trauma. It's like all the pain is etched onto my skin. Like my suffering is trapped in all my layers and I've never wanted to get out of it as much as I do right now.
This body is my protection body. The weight that I have needed to be in order to heal. The size of my thighs represent the nesting I have done, the inner child nurturing and the hibernation mode I have been in for the last 3 years.
This body is a lifetime of emotional abuse, of rape, of using food to abuse. This body has got me through and allowed me to survive. The extra energy, the extra skin, the extra rolls I have needed in order to feel safe. In order to protect myself. In order to empower myself and learn to love me, no matter what weight I am. This body has been my pain, that I have turned to passion, but just like my suffering - it no longer serves me now.
Science and spirit both back up how I feel. We know that trauma holds in the body, that emotional and spiritual pain stays within us until we let the energy out. So I guess that explains how I feel.
After 3 years of healing my mind all my suffering is now being held in my body and I don't want or need it to be there anymore. I want to shed it all and shake it off. It feels energetically heavy and too much for me now. It's like I can't breathe properly. I feel suffocated and uncomfortable and ready to burst out of it.
It's like I need to unzip my outer layer and step out because this now feels alien. I don't feel like Grace, I feel like an outdated version. And although I know in my heart this is positive, like a fresh start, like a chance to heal my physical self - this is also a little triggering for me.
I have consistently questioned if this is my ED talking. If this is outside noise I have re-internalised. If this is old fatphobia coming up from an unknown hole in my soul. If this is diet culture having its way with me. But I know myself, and it's not.
This is me surrendering and feeling like its time to know what my body looks and feels like without trauma, or pain, or suffering.
This is me growing up. Evolving. This is my adult self speaking louder than my inner critic. This is the next phase of my journey. This is me discovering what's underneath. This is me baring my soul and speaking my truth and no longer hiding behind my suffering or victimhood. This is me finding my strength, my sexiness, and becoming deeper with my soul.
I don't know how this post will go down. I know it's profound in some ways and also difficult to understand all at the same time - but that's literally how I feel at the moment. Being body positive and writing this post has been a weird process. I don't want to be slim, I don't want to be thin, I don't want to be a specific size or weight. I just want to feel like me. But right now, the person I see in the mirror is a constant reminder of what I've gone through. I want to feel like I am more than that. I want to set myself free.