I sometimes feel like my entire life has been the art of accumulating guilt.
Through the years, through my marriage at 19, divorce at 22, and even now, I’m a pro. I’m tired of feeling shame over choices I’ve made and the way I live my life.
When I was a member of the Mormon church, that’s when I felt most desperate about being perfect. That if we were to express our sexuality (outside the small realm of solely procreating), that we’d go to hell. That if I, as a woman, didn’t fit into the Mother/Homemaker mold set by Utah Mormons, that I was lesser of a person. That if I didn’t obey exactly what my husband, and other prominent male figures in my life, told me to do, I was sinning. That I had to dress a certain way to keep others’ thoughts clean… My eternal damnation was on the line for wanting to have a mind and a life of my own. A serious sense of freedom, a boost in wellness, of self-care happened when I moved on and left the church and its judgement.
When I was at my heaviest, people constantly ridiculed me for being fat. Conversely, when I made it down to my fittest and smallest size, people commented behind my back about cancer rumors, anorexia, bulimia, and other ____ illnesses. When I was training for half marathons and I’d tell someone that I had a 9 mile training run to do, they’d explode into reasons why I was overdoing it.
I’m not great at shaking comments off from people. I wish I were. It’s still something that I’m working on everyday, that who I am right now is just fine and there’s nothing inherently wrong with me. That it’s okay to have hips, to look like a woman, and it’s okay to workout intensely 5-6 days a week. That it’s okay to have chocolate cake on Tuesday for no reason other than that I want it.
Part of me reverts back into a 12 year old girl, wanting to be the Perfect Daughter, to please my parents, but then I think of the constant hurt I was feeling. I wanted to change myself for the constant abuse to stop. I felt like if I was dead, my family could be happy. I put up masks for everyone and felt guilty when I couldn’t do exactly as they wanted. I even felt guilt for rebelling.
I’m engaged to a true nonconformist. Most people shudder when they find out I’m going to marry an atheist, but we couldn’t be more happy together or be closer. He’s teaching me to do as I wish, be irrevocably myself, cake crumbs and strong muscles included, and to give naysayers the proverbial bird finger when too much opinion comes my way. I’m learning that the most important one is my own.