My Tree of Self-Loathing

Hello bloggies!

Today I’d like to share my experiences over the past few months with body image and self loathing. This is not a depressing, woe is me, post I promise.

My relationship with my body image has always been very rocky. It started early when I was in early double digits and chubby.

  It was then that my witch of a step mother began taunting me about my weight and overall appearance. Little did I know that would be a seed of doubt and insecurity that would blossom into the most disgusting tree ever called self-hatred.

This tree, if you will please entertain this metaphor, blossomed constantly through my teens. Every once in a while I would have a few friends that would try and help me chop this tree down and I got some good chops in it but eventually I gave up. Although it’s terror did diminish some, the tree remained in my side vision through late teens.

It wasn’t until I started a position as a portrait photographer that I began to realize that even though I wasn’t in the body, shape or size I wanted to be in doesn’t mean I should hate the one I have. I don’t know who or where it was I heard it from but the thing that changed my mind was thinking that I’m never going to attain any of the goals I have unless I take stock in the position I’m in at present. I realized that I needed to try and love myself and my body as is before I could start changing for the better. That is when I began to buy new clothes that made me look good regardless of my size. I was pretty limited to shirts, ties, slacks and shoes but I loved it. I began to love dressing my self and felt more confident in the body and form I was in.

  This was in early 2014 and I was at my heaviest I’ve ever been: 380lbs.

Later that year my father died and the wicked witch stole his castle and all his things. Whatever, it’s not her story it’s mine. That sucked. I hardly had any relationship with my dad after I came out as gay, but it still sucked.

 Shortly after that I moved from an expensive city apartment to a shared home with a friend from my church going years. I maintained my confidence and tried very hard to be more social since I had become more of a depressed homebody. I began to lose weight very slowly and began to eat less often.

In early 2015 I left the portrait company to explore life as a freelance writer and illustrator. I began doing art work for greeting card companies, musicians and so on. I was happy again! Until I ran of money and had to move back in with my mom. Freelance work paid well but it was a hit or miss and my part time job at a craft store helped tremendously but I was not very smart with my paychecks. My freelance work stopped, work cut hours and I was living with my parents. Despite having a gallery showcasing my work I was still feeling depressed which is when I made a snap decision to move to Chicago.

On June 1st of this year I boarded a plane to Chicago with no job, no home and more importantly no return ticket. This was supposed to be the beginning of everything for me. I had always been interested in comedy but never pursued it but now was my chance.

  I was 340lbs.

With no car and no money I began walking. Everything in Chicago was amazing, I loved public transit and I was so thankful to be staying with a college friend. I walked so much between transit stops and at work combined that I began to lose weight. Not much at first just a little here and there. I began putting myself out in the dating scene with new found confidence. I was on top of the world! I was in a new city following a crazy dream and so far pulling it off! That was until a guy I was dating noticed I was losing weight and dumped me. Yes, you heard that right, I was dumped for losing weight.

Shortly after that I moved to a shared apartment and began walking more and eating less. I noticed myself losing weight and the thought that filled my mind was that the more weight I lost the more people would accept me. The tree of self loathing had blossomed once again. I stopped eating almost completely. Sometimes once a day, some times not at all for a day or two at a time. My longest time I forced my self without was 5 days and that was my breaking point. While on my way to work I passed out at a bus stop. Waking up a few moments later I returned to my apartment, called out of work and eventually came to the conclusion that I needed to return home. I crunched the numbers and even if I did begin eating normally, I wouldn’t be able to afford other living expenses. To put it in perspective I was sleeping on a broken sleeping bag on the floor.

Once again I found myself happy but troubled and had to move home.

 So 4 months and 12 days later I went back to living with my parents. I was 280lbs. I had starved and walked myself to the point where I was 60lbs less than I was when I left for Chicago. I made jokes about it to family and friends trying to make light of the situation but it’s not funny. I have a problem.

I couldn’t fit any of my clothes anymore, everything swallowed me whole. Where I used to wear a 3XL shirt I know wear XL and can fit larges but refuse to wear them because I think they look like sausage casings. Where I used to where a size 54 Jean, I now where a 42. I was happy to be smaller but ashamed of how I got there. It was surprisingly easy to start eating again, God bless my mom who cooked everyone of my favorites in a time span of 5 days and watched me eat haha.

But coming home hasn’t been my happiest time. I’ve found myself increasingly depressed in the past month due to leaving what I thought was the beginning of my life to come back to something familiar. But as my friend Skyler told me, I hadn’t even explored all of my options for happiness and success here. So that’s my new plan. I will exercise all my talents in any way I can and live as healthily as I can. I soon will be publishing my long awaited children’s book, I’m continuously uploading content on YouTube and I have many short stories planned for this blog as well as a novel for 2017.

  I have gained 20lbs since coming back and that’s ok. I’m walking everyday and attempting to eat a normal amount. I still struggle getting three meals a day and with those thoughts that tell me I should maybe skip a few.

The tree of my flaws doesn’t go away I think. I have two options, I can spend my time hacking at it and trying to get it to die or accept it as an ever present being and try and dress it up. Maybe if I cover it up with things I love about myself it won’t take over my mind as often.

 I hope to lose more weight but in a healthy and controlled way. 2 years ago I would have never released my weight to the public. But it’s important to me now to embrace it and to own it. I know where I’ve been and I know where I’m going, there is no shame in the present. I may have gained 20lbs in the past month and a half but that’s ok because my worth isn’t in those numbers and neither is yours.

I’m not exactly sure if any of this blog post makes sense but I hope it does. This is just a small piece of my story and I’m proud to share it. I hope it resonates with some of you.

Talk to you soon, thank you for reading.

-Andrew Pan

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Dee Pavlack says:

    Proud of you Andrew! Stay determined to find your best healthy!


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