Until three years ago, I hadn't stepped on a scale. Sure, I'd been on one in a doctor's appointment or two every year, but every single time I stepped on the scale, I asked the doctor to stay mum. "Just write it down but please don't tell me."
This fear isn't even really based on the number. I was completely terrified of returning to the dark and lonely space of disliking, even hating at times, myself based upon some stupid number.
When I was about 15 or 16 I started doing some modeling in Omaha, just twenty minutes outside my small Iowa town. The agency was called Nancy Bounds, and honestly the memory of what took place there is pretty foggy. But I distinctly remember the day that I was told I wasn't enough.
We had a fashion show of some sort coming up and the head of the agency asked me to come in for a fitting. I brought along some sweaters, jeans, whatever I had on hand, but when I got there she asked me to put on a swimsuit.
So I go into the changing room and put on this purple Mossimo swimsuit that pretty much pushed my teeny tiny boobs up to my chin (?!!) and stepped outside.
This absolutely awful, older woman who reminded me of a more fashionable version of the Trunchbull eyed me up and down and said, "If you lost 10 to 15 pounds and we could do something about your chin you'd be perfect for modeling. Maybe even runway."
Her words just hung in the air as I choked back some tears and tried to smile.
Mind you I was fifteen years old. Little with knobby knees and almost always wore that creepy bra with water in it. And yeah, my chin sticks out a bit, like Drew Barrymore's.
Why didn't I run for the hills just then? I was young, I was impressionable and I was pretty dead set on filling the God-shaped hole in my heart up with just about anything that seemed like the right answer.
Well, that day I decided I wasn't enough. I wasn't pretty enough. I wasn't skinny enough. I wasn't naturally talented at anything it seemed. And my only goal was to survive small town high school (the bullying, the terrible relationships, the keg parties that almost always made me feel bad) and get the fuck out.
Unfortunately I carried with me this idea that I wasn't enough and oh boy, did it play out in every area of my life. I ate as little as I possibly could. I ran and worked out until I was completely worn and drained. I made myself throw up. And I beat myself up over every possible thing.
Even after I graduated I carried this with me to college, where it became even worse, because there wasn't anyone watching over me. It was so easy to measure out a small cup of black beans, a small cup of rice, and maybe, just maybe, a few cubes of chicken if I was lucky. I seriously started to vanish. I stopped writing. I stopped caring. I stopped connecting with anyone around me in a way that was genuine and true.
It didn't stop until a 36-hour train ride to New York City when I devoured the book "Wasted," by Marya Hornbacher, and made a choice: it was time to let myself free.
It was as though I'd spent six years sitting in a jail cell with the door wide open. And I just sat inside wasting away. It was rooted in choice. It wasn't Nancy Bounds' fault. It wasn't anyone in Glenwood's fault. It was mine. I needed compassion and instead tortured and abused myself.
I got off that train and I marched myself down 8th Avenue until I found something that looked delicious and that day it was an oozing grilled cheese and a piping hot mocha. And I vowed that I'd feed myself - not just food - but feed my heart, my soul, my beautiful creative mind.
It was a summer of enjoyment, sometimes decadence. I immersed myself into all of the sights, smells and tastes of New York. Falling in love with life again, or perhaps maybe for the first time.
And fast forward to now. I'm thirty. I still love my body. I know what makes me feel alive. I know what nourishes me and what doesn't. I know what used to plague me was simply flesh and thoughts and what now propels me forward is all heart.
Then the other day there was a comment on my blog about my weight. She thought it had fluctuated and she asked. She had the kindest of intentions but as I read it and my breath caught in my throat. For just a split second I thought, "What if I'm not enough?"
And something deep down inside of me, where that God-shaped hole used to be, said softly and quietly like a Mama to her young, "But you most certainly are."
And I knew it to be true.