Journal – Chapter 4: An Open Letter to my Former Self

Hi friend – 

It’s me, again. What you’re about to see is a letter that I had written to myself. This is personal. You may think it’s a little silly, but writing this got a lot of emotions out and actually did help me. I’m sharing this with you because maybe it’ll help you to do the same thing if you’re going through a similar situation. 

Give it a go.

Here it is:

“Hi you –

I’m moving on and I’m grown. I need to let go of you and I’m not exactly sure how to do that. So, I’m just going to start with a letter.

There was a time when you were a teenager that you hated yourself. That the constant bickering and name calling were eating away at your soul. You stood naked in front of the mirror and pointed out everything that was wrong with you. You cried as you named the body parts that disgusted you. You ended up taking a pair of scissors and chopping at your own hair because you thought it was ugly. You ended up with some kind of awkward mullet that your grandma had to come fix and make into something presentable.

But that wasn’t the beginning of it. From a young age, you didn’t feel like anyone cared or that anyone understood you. He wasn’t around and she worked nights so you had to stay out of the house during the day. Your friends stopped talking to you and you couldn’t understand why. When you asked, they walked away. You withdrew.

In the summer after the first year of middle school you stayed at home because you didn’t really have anyone. You started eating all the time. It started out during the day. Then you’d wake up in the middle of the night and sneak down the kitchen and eat more and more. You ended up gaining 50 pounds by the time 7th grade started. That’s when they started calling you names.

It was slight at first. Then the names grew louder and meaner as your pant size grew. These weren’t just from your peers, but your family. Asking why you were getting chunky and how you were going to deal with it. They thought that was helping, but you only wanted to eat more.

Then, that boy wrote you that letter. He asked you to be his girlfriend and said that he really liked you. He asked you to check if you liked him and you did. When you passed the note back to him, you could hear him and his friends laughing at you. Laughing about you. Again, you withdrew.

But, suddenly, you started gaining a couple of friends. Mostly from elementary school days and things got better for awhile. Until you ended up going to a different high school than your best friend. This school was not like the rest to you. You started to notice boys more than before. You were quiet and weird so boys did not like you. One boy went so far as to tell your friend that you were “ugly”.

So you changed schools to your friends school and again, things got better – for a while. Until 10th grade. You had gained even more weight over the summer and people noticed. You started to feel it. Again, you withdrew.

You told them that you wanted to see a counselor, but they told you that you were being dramatic. That was the first night that you made yourself throw up. You lost a little bit of weight and said it was all thanks to to new vegetarian diet you were on and your dance class. Despite feeling constantly nauseous and like you were going to pass out – you started to get happy again. So you stopped, and you gained all the weight and some back.

During senior year, you made some amazing friends, but you were still unhappy. You hid this behind smiles and humor. Until the day you graduated, you were miserable. Nervous about what comments awaited you in the halls everyday.

Then you went into hiding. You didn’t leave your room. You didn’t talk to hardly anyone. You left your room seldom other than the babysitting gigs you got.

At 20 you moved out of state. But, you were still damaged. You got a job and met some more amazing people, but you weren’t happy. You hid it again with smiles and humor. You begged him to let you come back to your home state and stay with him because you could feel it creeping up again, but he said no. For the last time, you withdrew.

Then you moved back. You met the most amazing soul. You were back with your family. You met more amazing people. You could feel yourself coming out of your shell. You could feel real happiness coming to your smile. You could feel real laughter in your heart.

And here we are to me. I’m happy, really truly happy, but I do keep thinking about you. I keep thinking about what you went through. I keep thinking about how it felt. I know you went through more things than I can write in this letter. I know you are sad and that you still feel like you’re all alone, but I can’t think about you anymore. I have to let go.

I’m not saying that I’m not going to look back on the past and remember you. I’m just going to know that those things happened to you and not to me. That all those things are in the past and they can’t touch me.

I am beautiful. I am confident. I am amazing. I am smart. I am silly. I am a good friend. I am a good wife. My past does not define me.

Love,

Ashley”

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Rant – #EffYourBeautyStandards

Hi again friend –

I’m sorry I’ve been MIA. I tried making videos, but that’s not just my thing. I have decided to step away from making videos and focus again on my writing.

I hate to get back into it with a rant, but here it is… a rant.

Instagram. It’s both a beautiful and harsh world. Full of both positivity quotes and harassment. I have an Instagram page that I mostly use it to look for inspiration. A hashtag I regularly use and I regularly search for is #EffYourBeautyStandards.

What this hashtag meant to me: Being happy with you own body who most would not consider a beauty norm.

I think it started out that way, anyway. But here I was, scrolling through images with that hashtag that I loved. A hashtag that meant that other people felt the same way with their bodies. And what do I come across? A comment. A comment from a woman in the plus size community with several followers berating a beautiful girl because she used that hashtag and this woman believed she shouldn’t have. Because this woman with thousands of followers did not believe this beautiful woman was fat enough. Because she believed that this woman fell into the beauty norm.

Now I don’t know neither of these women, but my heart dropped.

A few things here:

  • It’s a friggen hashtag. Why are you so upset?
  • Yes, this woman was beautiful. But who is to say that she does not feel like she does not fit into the norm?
  • You expect others to not judge you based upon your appearance and yet you’re judging someone else?

Here’s the thing: Just because you see someone who you think is perfect. Someone who has the “perfect” body, hair, family, clothes, car, house, face, etc. it doesn’t mean that you have the right to hate them. Nor do you have the right to judge them based on their appearance.

We live in a country where more and more is becoming accepted. It’s becoming the “beauty standard” to not be a part of the “beauty standard”.

This rant is not to put down the amazing beautiful plus size women of the internet. This is not to say that every single woman who uses this hashtag does this. This is to request that we all give the same respect we expect to receive from others. That we take a look at ourselves and we realize – “You know what? Maybe I’m not so different from them after all.” That we try to see past size, shape, color, sexual orientation, etc. and we see the person underneath.

If everyone did that… the world would be a much better place.

Journal – Chapter Three: Hypocrisy

Hi Friend –

Sorry for my absence as of late. My husband and I enjoyed our much needed vacation time.

While on my vacation – I did a lot of thinking of exactly what I wanted to write about next. During my stay at a Las Vegas hotel, I ran into a situation. During our last night at the hotel, my husband and I stepped onto the elevator on level 17, which was already occupied by a woman. The elevator stopped again on level 15 and a man looked in on us. His jaw dropped slightly as he stared at the three of us and his eyes widened. He said softly: “I’ll wait for the next one” – laughed slightly and then backed away shaking his head. The moment he said that, and the elevator doors closed, myself and the other woman shared in nervous laughter. I kept thinking to myself – “What was his problem?!” I even asked my husband as much while we walked towards the exit of the hotel.

A thousand reasons ran through my mind of why this guy did not want to stand in the elevator with the three of us. Then I thought to myself – “It’s because of my weight”. He thought the elevator was going to break with my weight on the elevator. I tossed and turned over this issue. It haunted me for days. I could feel my heart hammering against my chest at the thought that someone actually would not want to be in the same space with myself because of my weight. I was so positive that, that was the case. When we finally got home, I finally realized that I had no idea what the real reason was why that guy acted the way he did and WHY should it matter? I was never going to see him again. Why was I letting such a minor thing interfere with myself in such a major way?

The more I got to think about why I shouldn’t let it bother me, the more I thought about other similar issues I had let harm my self esteem this way and the fact that I was maybe hurting other people in this same way.

Let me elaborate. I have a hard time meeting new people – period. I don’t like to start conversations. I don’t like small talk. I don’t like the anxiety of hoping they like me. This goes double if the person I’m talking to is thin and/or attractive. I’m so sure that these people who are beautiful are just going to take one look at me and decide that I’m so disgusting and huge that I’m not worth their time and in turn – they aren’t worth mine. There was a large portion of my life (mainly in high school) that I had a very, very small closed group of friends. We did everything together, but those were the only people I would hang out with outside of school or have long conversations with.

I was so terrified of that rejection because I wasn’t good enough that I didn’t leave myself open to make new connections and meet other people. This is n issue that still haunts me today. I’m so terrified to go out and do fun things (i.e. group outings with work, outings with friends that include any kind of interaction with other people, etc.) because I am so sure that people are going to automatically judge me on my size. In a way – I am judging them on their size as well.

I have been lucky enough to meet some amazing people through my adult years that I fully trust and can be my full self with. A couple of those people have inspired me in such a way that I started this blog and started trying to find my positivity. Still – I can’t help but wonder about the other opportunities I missed out on because I was afraid of meeting new people and trying new things.

Being a plus sized woman, I never really thought of the hypocrisy of it all. I’m forcing an opinion based on the looks of another individual. I’m doing EXACTLY what I feared others would do to me. Body positivity – to me – shouldn’t be JUST to love yourself and the skin you’re in, but it should also be to not judge others based on the skin THEY are in. Yes, there are those once in a while jerks; however, it’s not worth the thousands of other people in this world you could possibly interact with in your lifetime. The nerd, the fat girl, the jock, the cheerleader, the beauty queen, the millionaire, the grandfather, the skateboarder, etc. – they are ALL people. All of them lead individual lives. You can’t possibly just group people together based solely on their job, their looks, their age, their title, their money, etc.

In summary – we all need to see pass these stereotypes that we place on other people, myself included. I for one and I’m going to push myself out their a lot further and not let being worried about what other people think hold me back. I’m not going to see myself as being judged, but being just a person talking to another person and possibly having an amazing conversation.

Thank you for reading.

Love, Ashley

 

Past – Chapter One: Online Dating

Hi friend.

I thought I would start a new sequence in my journey. By diving into the past, I believe that it can show how we became the people we are today. Mind you – none of these chapters are going to be in chronological order. I’m just going to write about them as the thoughts pop into my head.

**Featuring a photo of my 20 year old self.

When did I start online dating?

I started logging onto online dating sites fresh out of high school. I started with a local singles group – but after realizing the majority of people of this site were in their late 30’s – early 60’s I quit.

I soon later joined a website that was technically for meeting new friends, but it had a “match” portion that allowed for you to select individuals who you were attracted to. I found myself drawn to this specific portion of the site – spending hours selecting gentleman who appealed the most to me. Whenever a notification would pop up with “You’re a Match!” I felt my heart hammer at the thought of new possibilities. I would quickly reach out to them soon after saying something along the lines of – “Hey! I see we’re a match. How are you?”

I started online conversations and relationships with a few men; however, I never met one of them in person while I was in Utah. The main reason behind this being – my images online did not fully portray what I looked like in person. While the pictures were of me and my face, my body was always hidden. Whenever I started to really like someone I would send them a full body picture and in most cases they were shocked and quickly stopped talking to me. This hurt my self esteem and it was at this time that I started searching for men further away. Ones that would not want to meet me in real life and that I wouldn’t have to share my secret with.

Upon moving to Idaho – I started dating on a site that was an actual dating site. This time I decided to stick with men that were local and decided that I would add pictures of my full body to prevent the issues I had, had previously. There was a feature on this app, much like the “Match” feature on the other app in which you selected whether or not you found the person attractive. At first, I played it the same way – choosing the men I found most appealing. However, after several weeks of this, I matched with very few people and soon after started deleted the app.

After a couple of weeks of being dating app free I decided to re-download the “friendship” app I used back in Utah. Here I met a few guys that were really very sweet and gave me compliments in regards to my full figure and wanted to meet me in person.

Who was the first guy I met from online?

The first guy I met was a guy that lived a couple of blocks from where I was. He asked me to come over and we could watch a movie and eat a cheese burger. I walked over and met him halfway to his home. He had a symbol on his arm that I asked him about – he told me he was “juggalo”. I didn’t ask further into it and we made minor small talk as we walked to his home. Upon arriving to his house I sat with him as he made us some food and we watched a movie in his basement. I can’t recall what the name of the movie was now. I do remember that he was very respectful of my boundaries and we didn’t even kiss. After we hung out for a little while longer, he walked me halfway home.

A couple of days later I came back to his house and this was when I had my first official kiss at the age of 20. He wanted it to go further; however, I was not comfortable with this since this was just the first time I had kissed someone. I told him as much and he dismissed me from his house. We didn’t talk again until almost a year later.

After this major step in life, meeting people online was not as hard for me. I even started talking to an old friend from high school on Facebook and he came and stayed with me for a weekend. He became my first official boyfriend at the age of 21. Our romance; however, was short lived.

After breaking up with my boyfriend – I downloaded the dating app again with my new found confidence; however, even with this confidence, the anxiety still remained in the back of my mind. I was nervous and shy and had a hard time meeting people in person. I started trying to match with everyone on site, despite their physical and mental appeal to me. At one point, I remember, I would be sitting there watching TV as I continued not looking at my phone and selecting “yes” on every profile.

Eventually after many online dates and meet up’s my anxiety got the better of me and I deleted the app a couple of months before leaving Idaho.

To cut a very long story short. Over the course of my three year stay in Idaho:

  • I met 6 boyfriends online (all lasting under 6 months).
  • I met very rude people online
    • Both people I met in person and people I didn’t meet
  • I both gained and lost a lot of self esteem due to online dating
  • I gained a LOT of weight

Upon moving back into Utah in 2014 I downloaded the dating app one last time hoping to make a fresh start. This time, I would be cautious of the people I was talking to and meeting up with. It was upon re-adding this app that I matched with a guy named Shay. He had tattoos and his profile said he was tall (both things that I absolutely loved). He reached out to me and say a simple: “Hey. What’s up? I’m Shay.” It was from there we started our conversation. He ended up giving me his number and I deleted the app for the last time.

Shay later became my husband and we have now been married for 1.5 years. Someday I’ll go into how we met and how I knew he was the one, but this blog entry is already far too long.

Here’s the thing about online dating:

  • If you’re going to do it be smart.
    • Meet people in public spots if you’re meeting for the first time.
  • Be confident.
  • If it starts to make you sad, delete it.
  • Be yourself.

Love,

Ash

 

Journal – Chapter Two: Anxiety

So what is anxiety?

  • Google Definition: A feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.
  • My Definition: A huge pain in the ass

Today I felt it. I felt the flutter of my heart. I felt the quickness of my breath. I felt sick.

Why?

Because I need to make an appointment to get my hair dyed. The awkward silences, the waiting, and worst of all… the small talk *shudder*.

Don’t get me wrong – I am a very friendly person. I smile to strangers and ask how they are doing. I have no problem calling people whether it’s for work or ordering a pizza. I love long conversations with people I have known for a while. But the thought of sitting in a chair for hours and constantly worrying is enough to make me vomit.

Me: Are they going to talk to me? Should I say something? But I don’t want them to talk to me. Make eye contact so you don’t look like an asshole. Okay, now you look like a creeper. Now you have to say something. “So, this weather, huh? I hope it clears up soon.” Oh my God you’re an idiot. All they did was laugh. What does that mean? Was it a dumb comment? Does this person think I’m an idiot? I can never come back here.

Now – mind you; this is just the inner monologue I picture having before I even make the appointment. 97.66% percent of the time I cancel plans it’s because of my anxiety (totally made up number by the way).

What causes my anxiety?

  • Thinking about going to a crowded place
    • Like – a restaurant, movie theater, store, party, bar, etc.
  • Remembering someone is mad at me
  • Thinking I did/said something stupid
  • Driving somewhere I have never been before
  • Remembering that I have plans
  • Thinking about my anxiety
  • Etc.

What am I going to do about it? Nothing. I’m not going to get prescription medication. I’m not going to speak to a doctor. Not that there is anything wrong with either of those things – I just feel like those would cause me even more anxiety in the long run. I’m going to embrace my anxiety, because it’s part of me.

Here’s the thing:

  • Everyone gets anxiety sometimes – it’s a common thing that everyone deals with.
  • Without my anxiety I would have made the dumbest decisions
    • Especially while I was online dating… but that’s another post
  • Once I get to a party (or whatever) I’m totally fine. In fact – I usually have a ton of fun
  • If someone is mad at me or I did say something stupid – that’s life. Either the friend, family member, stranger, etc. forgives me or they stop talking to me. That person was just not meant to be in my life.
  • I have met the most amazing people by just putting myself out there.
  • I’m also friendly, funny, lovely, etc.

So yeah. I am anxious – but I’m hundreds of other things too.

My anxiety does not define me.

 

Journal – Chapter One: Struggles

 

Hi friend.

My husband and I are taking a vacation in a couple of weeks to Las Vegas. It’s our very late honeymoon. In anticipation of the trip and the upcoming Easter holiday – I have started to run my diet into overdrive. I cut out carbs, red meats, sugars, artificial sugars, and processed foods from my diet.

Why?

I was finding myself standing in front of the mirror pointing out every part of my body that I found imperfect. If I heard people laughing or talking under their breath I was certain that they were talking about me… laughing at me. I began laying in bed imagining that when I saw my family they would tell me how disgusting I was.

In summary – I was worried about what others would say about/to me. I was worried about not looking as good as the other girls in Las Vegas. I wanted to look good NOW.

So I did it. I started a new diet. I thought that cutting out these foods from my diet and eating much less would start a miracle and the weight would just fly off. After a couple of days of eating nothing but a few fruits, nuts, and vegetables – I made myself sick.

I could feel my stomach rumbling nightly from the lack of food in my system. I was thinking about food constantly. I could feel myself about to vomit from the morning and nightly ritual of chugging a large glass mixture of grapefruit juice, honey, and vinegar on an empty stomach. I was feeling dizzy and sick to my stomach for the few days that I did this. I was shocking my system.

Am I going to continue on this diet? Yes, but I’m going to eat a lot more healthy amounts. I am going to introduce protein to every meal. I am going to eat a well balanced breakfast.

Here’s the thing: 

  • I would rather take things slow and feel good
  • No one is laughing at me – and if they are, they obviously don’t know the awesome person that I am
  • Only I can choose how I see myself. If I continue to see myself as just a “fat girl” rather than a beautiful, outgoing, intelligent, funny, courageous, etc. girl – then that’s all I’ll ever be.

So yeah. I am overweight- but I’m hundreds of other things too.

My weight does not define me. 

 

 

 

 

Introductions

Well hello there friends –

Let me start off by saying that I haven’t written or even thought about writing in several years. I use to write short stories and poems in high school. This is going to be interesting.

Let me introduce myself.

  • My name is Ashley
  • I am 26 years old
  • I have been married for 1.5 years
  • We have two fur babies
    • Melody the cat and Gerber the hamster
  • I live in a pretty city in Northern Utah

Why am I starting this blog?

  • I want to find and share positivity
  • I found inspiration in others from Instagram
  • Even if no one reads this – I would love to have it to look back on
  • I miss writing 

What am I going to discuss in my blog?

  • The steps I’ve taken to find positivity
  • A physical and mental health journal
  • My progress through both my physical and mental health journey
  • Random scribbles directly from my brain

What do I hope to accomplish from this?

  • To keep myself on better track
  • To encourage myself daily
  • To encourage others who may need some inspiration

So… let’s get started.