At risk of contradicting myself (see previous post entitled “Shame, Shame-Double Shame”), I want to take a moment to talk about the effects of sexual assault in regards to shame.
Another reason I feel more comfortable “covered” is because I was sexually molested twice as a child.
I start to feel uneasy when I think that too much of my body is exposed. I don’t being uncovered. I don’t like giving guys a reason to look at my body.
Because two grown men looked at my body when I was a child, liked what they saw and decided that it was something to take for themselves.
And so, staying fat is also a way to protect myself.
The second I think a man might be noticing me for my looks, I start to feel uneasy, my body temperature rises, I get queasy and my mind starts to spin out of control. It’s a panic attack.
Feeling shame, or ashamed, results in a wanting to cover oneself. Many women who have suffered sexual abuse are overweight or obese and find it very difficult to lose weight. Being bigger and unattractive can make us feel safe. No one will want to do that to us again. No one will want this. If I give it up, who knows what they will do to me again.
Even now that I am happily married, have a son, a family that loves and supports me, I am scared all the time that if I look too good, something bad is going to happen to me.
For those of us who carry around this shame in our bodies, the battle we face is an exhausting, uphill and constant struggle.
If someone thinks we look good, it’s difficult to separate that compliment from the feelings that ‘looking good’ to someone is shameful because shameful things are done to you when you look good to people.
We feel as though our own bodies have betrayed us. Our bodies have caused horrible things to happen to us. It’s because of how our bodies looked that people touched us inappropriately and did things that robbed us of our innocence. We feel ashamed.
And so, we hide.
We hide behind hoodies and jogging pants. Behind pigtails and messy hair. We hide behind humour and bubbly personalities. And, we hide behind fat.
We have to learn that it was not our fault. It was not our body’s fault. Our breasts aren’t to blame. Our skin is not in the wrong. Our thighs are not the problem. Even our most intimate of places have done no wrong to us.
Your body did not betray you. Your body did not fail you, or allow this to happen. It was not in agreement with any of it. Your flesh did not betray you.
For us this journey is about learning to feel safe in our own skin. We have to learn to make our bodies our allies, not our enemies. We have to learn to trust our flesh. We have to learn to forgive ourselves for hating ourselves so much.
I am trying to become friends with my body again.