A Surprising Shame Spiral

Yesterday was my wedding day. It was such a crazy day I am having trouble remembering any of it and it’s been less than 24 hours! 

The night before was a bit of a disaster – I cut my toe open and managed to mess up the marriage license which resulted in a panicked call to our officiant at 10pm who reassured me it was fine. And then the morning of my wedding I got everything together and then went to pick up my Mom for our hair appointments in a car share, and I locked my cell phone in the car share car, which only opens with your cell phone. Thankfully within five minutes a lovely stranger came by and opened it for me with her cell phone and all was well. 

My Mom and I got our hair done, and it was actually really nice to have time with her yesterday, nicer than I thought. And I am really glad that she was there. It’s hard, that she is both someone I need and love but also largely the source or root of all my trauma… yesterday she was a rock for me, and it gave me hope for us. She also played official photographer because it was a very small intimate ceremony – the big to-do comes much later – and I am grateful for those getting ready photos. 

After that we had lunch with my Dad and I got changed, my Mom helped me into my dress and fix my hair. I remember staring at the mirror, hand on heart, thinking “I need to remember this moment”.

And then we got in the limo with my fiancé (husband! OMG haha husband) and his family and drove to the dock in this cove in the Pacific Northwest covered with trees and ocean and got married at the end of the dock with the fog in the trees… in the pouring rain and wind. 

It was beautiful, it felt beautiful. I said my vows and my husband cried, and we said I do’s and exchanged rings and then went off to take photos. Our officiant was lovely and everyone was happy and we popped champagne in the limo – we had dinner and my husband and I went to the hotel we got given as a gift, in the most expensive and popular hotel in our country. And we re-read our vows to each other and had a first dance privately in the hotel room and more champagne. 

But then I looked at the photos. And there is a LOT of shame living there. Our photographer posted one on her Instagram. And all I can think of is how awful I look – how fat and how my stomach sticks out. And that is really frustrating. It’s a beautiful photo and it’s actually not that bad – she uses angles to her advantage. 

But our Moms (all three of them) took tons of photos and I have a double chin or back fat (my dress has a hole in the back) in a lot of the pictures. And I’m trying to reassure myself because they’re not professionals they’re Mom’s and if you take some from each Mom there are some lovely photos… but all I feel is shame.

My Mom and I were in the limo and I was feeling upset about this because the donut shop where we went to take pictures to escape the rain posted a photo of us and I LOOK HIDEOUS. The angle is awful, we are feeding each other donuts so we look like pigs and ugh. Everything about it is the worst. And I was showing her and lamenting how I felt and my MOTHER, of all people said “today is not the day for body shame, you look beautiful darling. Just enjoy it”

Of course that was in direct contrast to what my Dad said at dinner last night when they brought the cake for us to have as a celebration – when he told me “not to eat all of it cause I didn’t need it”… which like fuck you it’s my wedding night I’m going to eat all the damn cake.

I went from feeling pretty when I got dressed to feeling fat and ugly by the time I went to sleep, and that has continued into today.

And I am all parented out. My husbands parents are here for one more day with us and then tomorrow we see my parents and tonight we have dinner with all of them again and I’m done. Mostly with my husbands parents, because they are playing tourist and tease me a lot (which is fine if I’m not in a shame spiral) and my parents have been here so many times that they are happy to stay at home and do nothing. 

But weirdly grateful for my Mother who was actually an amazing maid of honour and witness yesterday. She held my bouquet and brought Kleenex and fixed my dress and talked me out of my mid day shame spiral. But I didn’t want to feel like this about my wedding day, and it’s really frustrating to me that I do. 

I have found myself locked in a body shame spiral and I don’t like it. 

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11 thoughts on “A Surprising Shame Spiral

  1. First of all congratulations on the day. I too have some of those photos, and as you know I struggle with body shame. But I now carry a photo of myself as a pretty beautiful 4 or 5 year old. And I speak to this little girl and tell her she has inner beauty and grace beyond words. Can you find such a picture of yourself and try a similar message.
    But most of all I wish you, sincerely, a warm and loving future with your husband.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There is so much expectation around the “beautiful bride” thing, it’s almost like “my wedding day is supposed to be the day I look the most beautiful I will ever look in my entire life, and if I’m not stunningly perfect then I am therefore incredibly fat and hideous every other day of my life”. With all that conditioning, it makes sense that it would send you into a spiral. I think about getting married and the thought of wedding photos makes me feel incredibly exposed and vulnerable, and I feel a lot of compassion for how triggered you have been over this.

    It’s not true, though – it’s really not. Try to hold onto your mom’s words. “You look beautiful.”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Glad your mom really showed up for you, and that you had a lovely wedding 🙂
    The body shame… it is so painful, isn’t it? I am at a training this week, directly addressing body shame and weight bias and stigma, and reclaiming body trust and respect. I think I am telling you that, to convey how personal shame and body stuff are to me, and how systemic they are, in families and the culture at large, and how it isn’t your fault and there is NOTHING shameful about your body.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Congrats!!!

    While I was reading your post, I made the connection between your Dad’s comment and your preoccupation with your appearance in photos… it would appear to me, a casual observer, that your dad is one major source of your experience of body shame. Him just being present could trigger that spiral of shame, not to mention his highly inappropriate comment! WTF?

    I am angry that he said that to you. A healthy parent would never say such things to their adult child on her wedding day!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is hard because I truly love my Dad and he is wonderful in so many ways – and I actually get quite defensive of him and my Mom.

      They’ve done their best, and in a lot of ways that exceeded my needs, but in some key ways it didn’t. And I grapple with that.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s very understandable… and, it’s a long process of untangling all of that. But, when the way our parents treat or talk to us leads to shame, we have to love ourselves more than we love the untarnished image of them we carry with us. Parents aren’t perfect… but, this crosses over the line into painful. It’s hurting you. And keeping you from happiness in a day that should be all joyful!

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  5. I totally get the body shame ‘monster’. I’m glad your mother was there for you, and that she could give you that support. Congratulations on your new status of MARRIED. I wish you all the best. And I’m sure you looked beautiful. 🙂 I have never seen a bride NOT look good. It’s all about the emotions so visibly radiating outward, that make women look even more beautiful on such a special day. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I HATE body shame> I know a lot about it, and I am so sorry it crept into your wedding day 😦 That sucks. On your wedding day there is a lot of focus on how the bride looks, so it is hard… as all your insecurities are magnified to ridiculous proportions. I was a totally scared self-conscious bride. I am sure you DID look beautiful, and in time you will realise that for yourself x HUGS Mrs paper doll 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Body shame is really really difficult. I’m grateful that your mom was there with you and was supportive. I bet you did look beautiful. Ignore what your dad said. It was your big day, you can celebrate the way you want.

    Liked by 1 person

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