• Sam

Bring an Oxygen Tank

Narratives. We all have one or multiple. These belief systems we create for ourselves spun from societal constructs and trauma meant to protect us from the things that hurt. I have two. 1. I deserve, and should expect nothing more than, abuse and shame because it is a language I am well acquainted with and know exactly how to handle. 2. Men are monsters.

I do not like my body, but I am learning to. I don’t say this by way of pining for sympathy. I say this because it is the harsh truth of the grating self criticism I experience on a daily basis. The first time someone told me I’m fat I was 10 years old. I now wonder if it’s okay to be a size 28 in jeans and love pasta and beer as much as I do. I cry when I don’t fit into a pair of pants from 2 years ago and pinch my skin constantly, hoping someday I’m half the size of the girls on my Instagram feed. Or maybe someday I’ll just disappear altogether. Lucky me.

Trying to navigate relationships when you’re filled with unbridled self hatred is another demon. Unfortunately, some of the men I’ve chosen to be romantically involved with happen to feed off of the shrinking act I’m trying to perfect. If your sole desire is to make yourself small, they will make sure it happens. Over the past year, I have become all of these unrecognizable pieces. I’ve lost parts of myself I don’t know if I can get back. I know they can not be returned to me and I will not receive an apology. I want to make the wise decision and say that time and introspection will heal me, but anger has taken place of liberation more often than not.

So, how did all this lead to me running around naked in a creek/abandoned structure you ask? Well, I suppose this is the beginning of my journey not only to find radical self love, but to find forgiveness and trust. Throughout the process of these photos, I was given a safe space to be honest and vulnerable. For the first time in two years, maybe more, someone was looking at me for everything that I am and I didn’t want to crawl out of my skin. I didn’t have a panic attack. Here is this person who just wants to love people for exactly what they are with no expectations or complicated desires. This person who just wants to watch humanity unfold and match that vulnerability with his own. And I found forgiveness and trust in that.

I need more people to be this soft and kind. I need to be reminded that people are still good because I lose sight of that and I am so tired of being angry. There are so many aspects of our society that I want to completely dismantle. All of these standards we feel forced to live up to don’t just lead to a body image problem we’ll get over eventually. If your self loathing runs deep enough you’ll put yourself in situations that externalize that hate. I don’t want to do that anymore. I have too many scars and the heartbreak is exhausting.

I feel like I’m letting go of a breath I’ve been holding for 22 years. There are no guidelines I have to follow. The standards I have felt so controlled by aren’t real. People can still be kind, soft and well-intentioned. At the end of the day, it is only you in all of your vulnerability and flaws. You, in all of your beautiful flesh and bone and love and truth. So here it is. This is my truth.

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