As a grieving parent, do you struggle to let go of bad habits? Do you feel that you’ll never find the motivation to break them? Me too.
It’s been two years since I gave birth to my fifth, and last, child. I’m carrying weight I don’t need, more than baby weight… grief weight.
Six years ago — a year before my world changed — I took up exercise, and within a few months not only was I feeling fitter but I was hooked. I ran and bootcamped myself to the healthiest body I’d ever had. I lost the weight, slept like a log, and felt amazing. My confidence and vitality filtered to my family. I’d finally found my balance.
Then I experienced pregnancy loss and — crushingly — at the same time, the sudden death of my eldest child. My perspectives on keeping fit slid into oblivion.
Related: Baby Weight Without the Baby
After initially losing weight through stress and lack of eating, I became pregnant again and began to eat to control the nausea and tiredness. The weight piled on and — after a short spell of weight loss after having my son — before I knew it I was pregnant again. I had no chance. Two years on and I’m way too heavy. However, I’m not bothered about my appearance so much this time, much more my health. I dream about my former fit self. I long to be her again, but I feel I’m in a constant battle with something that stops me from achieving it.
What I’ve come to realise is just as I’m starting to get back on top of my self-control, I sabotage it with a huge binge. I even know that I’m doing it — deliberately harming my success. Because to be that fit, healthy, happy person again means that I will have my life together: I will be in control; I will be, in my eyes, as perfect as I can be; I will be successful, life-loving, carefree.
But throw in my grief and anxiety at any unexpected moment, and it splits that dream in two.
How can I contemplate having my life together when I’m living in fear?
Related: Managing Fear And Anxiety After Loss
How can I feel like I’m carefree, life-loving, and energetic when my carefree, life-loving, energetic child is dead?
How can I feel I’ve achieved success in attaining a healthy lifestyle when that means I have somehow blocked out the massive grief burden that shackles me to failure?
What’s. The. Point?
It was at Midnight Mass last December that, as I stood in church feeling helpless and weary to my constant battle, I heard the Holy Spirit tell me clearly, “Your identity is in Christ.” I almost felt the physical weight on my shoulders lift off me right then! God loves me whatever, but he was letting me know that I don’t need to sabotage and punish myself for my losses and that I need to be kinder to myself. This isn’t just about me. It’s about my family. About being around for them. Having energy for them. Saving my best smiles for them. It’s about loving them — and me — the way that God loves me.
Related: Self Care: Welcoming Happiness
Slowly, I’m re-framing my approach. I’ve accepted I’m not who I was six years ago. My whole life perspective is different, but that doesn’t mean I have to sabotage any hope of joy or of personal fulfillment. By being more forgiving and less critical, I hope to rediscover more of my peace and begin to know the benefits of caring for myself in new ways. It’s a bumpy road, but at least I’m on it!
Image credit: Wordswag