My Public Display of Self Love Journey

On Friday I will be celebrating my nine month anniversary on my Public Display of Self Love journey. When I wrote my letter asking for help, I plotted out my plan. After I sent my letter I sobbed, in my kitchen, to my partner Ben. I cried for the person and life that I desperately wanted and needed to release.
On August 1, 2014 at my Day One party, I weighed 254 pounds. Physically I felt like, and was a hot mess. I had just survived kidney cancer, I had chronic back pain and subsequently a daily dependency on pain medicine, I had hyper-tension (high blood pressure), I had high cholesterol, I had planter fasciitis, I had diabetes type 2, my blood work showed I had fatty liver, I snored, I had recently been diagnosed with asthma, I had areas of skin where rolls, rashes, and yeast sometimes existed (too much info?) Psychologically, I was worse off than physically. I had spent a lifetime where self loathing and worthlessness consumed me. I’ve been a food addict since I was eight years old. The more I ate, the more I fed those negative self core beliefs. Let’s just call it a self fulfilling prophecy cycle. For instance, I think I am garbage, I feel like garbage, and then I act like I am garbage. Not feeling good enough, and internalizing most things, obviously served a purpose. Using food to comfort myself, as well as punish myself gave me a tangible reason why I felt the way I did. Being overweight, allowed my outsides to match my inner beliefs. I didn’t value myself enough, to prioritize proper self-care or self love. I was invested in other people’s well-being, and I didn’t have time to be self centered and selfish, I thought. What I know now, from awaking thru this transformation, is I have received greatly from giving to others. It fulfilled and fed my charitable, nurturing, generous, and loving values. Giving to others, and being stingy with my own self-care and self love, was not true giving or serviced from a healthy place. Rather, investing in others was an escape from my own pain and issues. If I was busy consuming someone else’s needs and feelings, then I was freed up to neglect my own. I found it a powerful and convenient coping mechanism. Using someone to reflect the love and positive feelings that I was unable to generate for myself, also lead to unhealthy dynamics. I often felt slighted, and victimized by my nearest and dearest. I would then be distraught because of the narrative I would tell myself. It sounds a lot like… I was neglecting myself, and giving so freely, with so much love, and now it does not seem reciprocated, and I feel hurt and uncared for. This ultimately confirms how I felt about myself, and that confirmation felt devastating. This heartbreak typically brought me back to food, a person, or substances.
An important aspect of my plan, was throwing myself weigh-in celebration parties every three months. I was anxious about stripping my clothes off in front of people. I was scared to take pictures and post them. I was terrified to fail as much as I was terrified to succeed. I shared my hopes for myself and my family at my first party. At my Day One party, I believed that I was truly beginning a new way of living. By November 1, 2014, I felt great. I had momentum and sucess, and my eyes on the prize. I had lost 39 pounds and weighed 215! Unfortunately, my world came crashing down the day before Thanksgiving, when my oncologist saw something concerning, and ordered more test. A couple hours later, my father was life-flighted to an intensive care unit with life threatening issues. I left my partner and kids in California, and went to be with my parents and sister in Florida. Those 11 days in the hospital were the worst days of my life, up until then. I felt powerless, scared, and guilty. I internalized, which is what I tend to do, and believed that my potential poor news from my doctor, was the catalyst for my fathers’s medical emergency. During those days in Florida, I managed to not overeat or under-eat. I practiced self care, and exercised a few times. I tried to take care of myself, and practice what I had been learning on my journey. I also screwed up during those days, and created and participated in drama with my family. Fear, triangulating, stress, lack of sleep, anxiety medicine, and crusty dynamics lead to horrible fights and outbursts. I was attempting to feel in control in a out of control situation, by fixating on the few things I believed I could control. That experience, set the foundation for another crisis that was brewing. On February 1, 2014 I threw myself a six month anniversary party, and weighed-in at 195 pounds. I had lost 59 pounds, and felt on top of the world. My father was now home, and improving every day. I found out, from my oncologist, that my imaging and blood work was clean. I realized that I was accomplishing my dreams, and it was time to dream even bigger. I announced at my party, my dream of helping bring self love education to children. I had an incredible time at my party, and truly felt amazing. That night my life ended, and another life began. My immediate family had a scary life changing situation happen. This occurred due to numerous factors, and the details aren’t all mine to share. What is mine to share is that my past behavior, although improved since beginning my journey had co-created these horrific consequences. I felt blind-sighted, having come from one of the best nights of my life, where I felt like I was on top of the world, to my lowest moments ever. I had already changed, and felt confused as to why my past behavior was blowing up in my face at that point. A few of my nearest and dearest were concerned that I had enough tendencies, that I could be diagnosed borderline. This was shocking to me. I was ashamed, and scared. I educated myself and sought professional help. Luckily, I have not been diagnosed as borderline or any other diagnosis. However, I have do have a propensity for a lot of those tendencies. For instance, black and white thinking, explosive anger, fear of abandonment, and eating myself to death. I have battled these character defects most of my life. As I spoke with everyone else in my life, they could not see me as this person, that my family described. Only a handful of people had witnessed my rage and despair. Those people felt scared of me, and untrusting of my potential response. As I was becoming heather so were my reactions. Yet, the people that I was seeking my self worth from triggered me in a way, that others did not. Trying to make sense of all of this, I felt lost, confused, and beside myself. I could not eat, sleep, or stop crying. Everything that I had worked for my entire life, felt like it was in jeopardy. I had to muster up ever fiber of strength and resilience to show up for myself and for my children during that time. We were surrounded by friends and community, and truly held. Those days of not eating or sleeping wrecked havoc on my body and my menstrual cycle. I spotted mid-cycle, which is unheard of for me, and then didn’t have a mensural cycle for over a month. I had an eating disorder in high school, and that week of subjecting my body to extreme distress was familiar, alarming, and unacceptable. I lost 10 pounds that week, and was horrified and ashamed. It was the one and only week, out of my nine months, that I was not proud of my weight loss or weight gain, since my journey had begun. Sitting within this public sphere, which I created, while my world was coming undone, was surreal. I was terrified to continue on my path, but more afraid of letting go of all that I had learned and accomplished. My kids needed me to be strong and solid, and I needed me to be strong and solid too. Those days were the longest, and most gut wrenching days I hope to ever experience. I have spent the last three months fighting for everything I value. The first being, ME! I love myself, and know that providing myself self-care is not selfish or a choice. It is my responsibility and mine alone. I do not need to do it perfectly, but I do need to do it. I value a healthy partnership with Ben, where both of our voices, feelings, needs, and dreams are being held and nurtured. I value my children and supporting their emotional and physical development. I value my job and my ability to provide for my family. I value my mom, dad, and my sister. I value my friends and community. I value teaching our children how to speak nicely to themselves, how to validate their feelings, and providing them tools to sort which thoughts and feelings deserve action. I value kindness, gratitude, and mindfulness. I value humbling yourself, and asking for help. I value admitting that you have made mistakes, and asking for forgiveness. I value forgiving myself and others. I value moderation and balance. I value trusting that time does change everything. I value the space needed for that time and that change. I value honesty, transformation, bringing dreams into fruition, and I value my worthiness!
This 9 month party was the most difficult to organize and throw. I feel like I’ve been too successful. I feel overexposed, and self saturated. I’ve been un-friended on Facebook, and in real life because of my self love journey. I have lost relationships and created new ones along the way. I have been in touch with long lost friends, and been deeply witnessed and held by strangers. I know that my self love and hard work deserve to be celebrated. I am not perfect or anything close. My journey has not been perfect or anything resembling perfection. As of today, I have lost 80 pounds and my self loathing. I have gained self confidence and self worth. My Public Display of Self Love journey has given me the value of self love, self care, and self acceptance, and it has changed my life. I am beyond grateful! Xoxo

Sean with #transparentUNT

“So what’s going on with the #transparentUNT movement?”

“Our director for the McNair Program, Dr. Elrod, seems as if she was forced to resign due to administration pressure. There was not a lot of communication from the university at all really to anybody. The news was spread through the proverbial grapevine. They didn’t contact the faculty or the students, or even the Department of Education it seems like, who funds the whole program. So all the scholars are kind of frustrated, demanding answers, and wanting to have a voice in any decisions made about the program. Y'know, the program that their future depends on. Yesterday, we came out and demonstrated. The president responded with some pretty callous and almost tacky remarks on tiwtter that dismissed the whole thing. He dismissed Elrod as a person, calling her this manipulative figure who’s telling all her scholars to ‘Fight the president for me!’, which she’s not. She’s not even part of the movement really, it’s all our own frustrations being voiced here, that are related to her dismissal. And then he also dismissed the scholars as people who are able to reason and demonstrate on their own behalf. So it seems as if he’s not paying attention to us at all. That tweet was demonstrative of what we’re protesting, that the administration isn’t paying attention to its students, and is acting almost like a corporation, making decisions underneath this shadowy curtain.”

“What is the McNair Program exactly?”

“It’s a program for underrepresented students, impoverished or minority undergrad students, trying to get into graduate programs.”

“And so why does Dr. Elrod matter so much to you?”

“She is the reason the program here is so good. It’s the third best in the country. We have a huge national conference that brings out tons of graduate schools to recruit students. And also, she’s just a mentor to all of us. When I joined the program, the first thing you do is you sit in her office and talk about why you want a PhD. It’s a really heartfelt moment. I didn’t even realize I wanted a PhD until I went into that office. And now it’s a very real goal in my life. I attribute a lot of that to her. She’s our champion.”

“What’s something you hope comes out of this movement?”

“Hopefully we get a meeting with the president wherein we can discuss the future of the program. We want to search for a new director, we want a say in Elrod’s replacement, because it’s our program and we want the administration to respect our opinion and respect our voice.”