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A Smaller Pant Size Does Not Equal Happiness; Even After Divorce

Posted Sep 26 2010 2:00am
Today's guest post is by Bethany J. Royer from Mother of the Munchkins.   Bethany is an independent contractor and writer currently studying psychology.  Bethany has written for us today about a very personal topic - her recent divorce and its impact on her body image.  I have no doubt her words will resonant loudly with anyone who has had a similar experience.

My first thought as my forty-one year old husband revealed an affair with a girl half his age, was not one you’d expect.  I immediately thought - "Cool, I’m going to get my figure back."  I was at least eighty pounds over what had been my usual weight for most of my adult life and while I would say to others I wasn’t happy with the extra weight, (as if it were required of me, like an apology), I was actually quite content.

In fact, for the first time in my life, I was comfortable in my own skin.  I was free of crazy notions that I wasn’t good enough because I couldn't fit into a single digit pant size. This, coming from a gal who grew up chubby and was constantly harassed about it to the point where I starved my way down to a society-approved size in high school.  I continued to master this size as an adult via one crazy diet after another, starvation, and hours of exercise.  I managed to keep up the charade until my second marriage, where I finally decided I was going to accept my God-given, natural, size.

Yet, as my husband revealed his betrayal with a lithe, blonde, twenty-one year old in June this year, my first thought was - "I’m going to be skinny again."  Obviously, my body image was not as healthy as I had assumed.  As I moved my belongings out of our house, including that of our two young daughters, I began to lose weight in record time.  The more the weight fell off, the more I reveled in attention about the weight loss.

A handful of months later however, as I stood before a mirror several sizes smaller, one would have thought I’d be deliriously happy. Instead I thought to myself - "Two more pant sizes, just two more, and I’ll be happy. Okay, maybe three."  Great!  I’d been perfectly content with the old me and now I was playing a game of self-loathing. 

I have slowly come to realise that divorce is a soul-devouring event that does a number on your self-esteem.  I had believed I was content with a partner who accepted me completely.  After the divorce though, I found myself questioning everything from my size, to new wrinkles across my forehead and the number of candles now on my birthday cake.  How did I recover my self-esteem? 

As much as I have wanted there to be a magic pill to swallow, or a perfect pant size to recoup my self-esteem, I have realised there isn’t one.  I have come to realise we live in a society that pushes us to be beautiful, thin and forever young, which in turn makes us put ridiculous expectations on ourselves.  I am now amazed to think of my reaction on the day I found out about the affair.  I was not thinking about the harm the situation posed to our children, possibly my health, and the end of what I thought was a safe, secure, marriage.  I was thinking of my waistline.  Everything in my life was at stake and I was daydreaming how I would toss out all my “fat” clothes.

Looking back, which seems like an eternity, but has only been four months, I'm embarrassed by my thoughts of how a smaller pant size would make my life perfectly happy.  Losing weight is not a guarantee of a big stamp of approval for life, and yes, indeed, a smaller pant size does not equate happiness, even after divorce.

Thanks Bethany.  I know you are currently searching for a publisher about your recent experiences and I wish you all the best with that.  Please let me know if you ever get published!
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