I've been an active and healthy person my entire life. As a teen, I competitively danced 20+ hours a week and frequently went to the gym. I looked great and felt great.
Even once I started dating my first serious boyfriend (whom I ended up dating for over three years), I never gave up on my healthy and active lifestyle. But once the first year of initial-dating-romance passed, my ex's true colors and feelings came out.
I can still remember the day he told me I was fat and he wasn't attracted to me anymore. Well, over five years later, the memory of how he made me feel still stings. Looking back now, what's funny is I didn't even gain any weight. I was a healthy, average weight of 130 pounds. And for someone who was as active and fit as I was, I was the healthiest I've ever been.
He made me question everything I loved about myself. My muscular legs -- toned from years of hard work -- I saw as fat and disgusting.
My curvy figure, I resented. I began hating everything about my body and rather than being upset with him, I became furious with myself for letting myself go. I couldn't understand how the guy who once told me I was the most beautiful girl in the world, thought I was now unattractive and “getting fat."
He told me if I didn't lose 15 pounds, he would break up with me. At 20 years old, the thought of living without him was terrifying and would leave me in a panicked, anxious state, so I knew I had to do whatever I could to stay with him.
I began starving myself, making myself sick and working out for hours on end to the point of exhaustion. I began dropping weight at an unhealthy rate and my friends and family noticed.
Of course, they had no idea my new obsession with "exercising" had anything to do with my ex. Nothing they said could steer me away from my goal weight. If they did happen to convince me to take a night off from the gym and I indulged in food, I would not only hate myself for it, but I would never hear the end of it from my ex.
Whenever my ex would comment on my weight or size, I would write down whatever he said in a notebook and how it made me feel. Whenever I would have a moment of weakness, I would read his horrible comments and sit and cry. Looking back, I can't believe I ever allowed someone to mistreat me and make me feel so poorly about myself.
This feeling of insecurity and self-hate continued for the rest of our relationship. I was always trying to prove myself and win his affection by staying at an unhealthy weight. The last months we were together, I found out the entire time we were together he was cheating on me. I was devasted, of course, but I was finally free from his manipulation.
The following months were the hardest. Despite finally being free from his horrible comments, I still believed the things he used to say about me. I was sent to counseling to try to overcome my feelings and finally, after months of that, I began to move on.
Today, many years, boyfriends and dress sizes later, I am back to a healthy weight where I actually feel comfortable and somewhat confident again.
But there are, of course, days when I step on the scale and see a number I'm not overly pleased with and I have flashbacks to my days of unhappiness when I felt like I was never enough.
But now, because of what I went through, I am able to step off the scale and look at my reflection in the mirror and tell myself I am beautiful and I am enough.
I now know to never, ever, let a human make me feel that poorly about myself. Despite how horrible those years were, they made me a stronger person.
Now I can tell myself, or any other person who needs to hear it: You're beautiful, amazing and incredible just the way you are and screw anyone who thinks or tells you otherwise.