All I See Are Funhouse Mirrors, And It’s Not Fun Any Longer

depression, Life, Weight Loss

Warning, this is a very serious post about a mental illness that I have. It is not to be treated as a light subject in any way.

Honestly, this post has been in my head for awhile now, but I’ve been dreading writing it down and giving it life. It’s a side of my life that I honestly hate talking about because it makes me feel so terrible about myself.

But I can’t really put it off any longer. Thanks to Facebook for throwing the reminder in my face, I was at one of my lowest weights a year ago.

Sounds exciting, right? Not when I have put back on almost 30 pounds over the last year.

Why? I know a lot of the reasons why. Most of it is due to complete laziness. It also has to do with stress. Letting my sweet tooth control me. Going through a severe stage of depression. Getting a promotion at work and taking on additional responsibilities. But mostly not putting the time into it like I did a few years ago.

But that’s not what this post is about. Let’s discuss something that has such a stigma around it, and you will rarely hear much about – male body dysmorphia.

What it is about is the fact that even at my lowest weight, after losing nearly 80 pounds, I hated looking at myself in the mirror. I hated pictures of myself.

I lost 80 pounds and could only see the 249 pound person I let myself get to.

And now that I’ve put on 30 pounds and am not even close to my original goal weight any longer? It’s terrible. All I do is look at myself and see the flaws. Constantly.

And you know what is especially hard about it? Is that I am such a hypocrite about body images. I highly encourage people to be comfortable with themselves. I use the word beautiful and share it as often as I can. I make sure to promote healthy self views from a young age.


I think stretch marks are amazingly symbolic of the journey that a person has gone through, especially after childbirth. I have stretch marks. Do I think that about myself? Absolutely not. To me, they are a constant reminder of what I did to myself.

I also have loose skin on my stomach from the rapid weight loss (60 pounds in less than a year). Could I do something about it? Probably. But I am always telling myself what’s the point? I have these stretch marks and this loose skin that I am never going to be comfortable in my own body.

I refuse to go swimming with other people because I have such insecurities with my own body. Is it really that bad? Probably not, but the way I see myself I just can’t get through that mental block.

I wear a compression shirt. Every. Single. Day. Why? Because at this point it is such a security blanket to me that I can’t imagine going a day without it. It squeezes in all my imperfections and hides them away, at least for the day. I can dress nice, and feel good about myself for a little while until I catch my reflection somewhere in something.

I know that it is such a problem for me that I intentionally go out of my way to try to make sure other people don’t feel the way I do about myself. When people say nice things about me physically, I generally do not believe it. In my eyes, I do not see myself as an attractive person, in the slightest. Which is ironic because people tell me my two youngest look just like me and say that they are beautiful. Should be a compliment, right? Right.


My negative feelings about myself physically have been the reason for many of my periods of depression. I start to feel so down on myself that I often will try to seek some sort of validation that things aren’t as bad as I think they are. You know, the cheesy social media post selfies seeking attention, or things like that?

But those never go how you imagine, and you generally do not get the feedback you were hoping for. Maybe it’s because I’m a guy and people aren’t comfortable giving men compliments? I don’t know. But when you’re already feeling terrible about yourself and you throw a final S.O.S. out there and get nothing in return? It’s a really quick shortcut to depression and negative self feelings.


When I did photography I would try to limit the amount of editing I did to my clients because I wanted to capture their true essence. Their genuine beauty. And I was great at it. I would often have conversations with clients who would ask for things to be removed and I would push back and tell them it’s a part of them that they should own and feel beautiful in their own skin (things that aren’t temporary like birth marks, moles, etc – not things like pimples that come and go).

But when I see pictures of myself? I want to edit one picture for hours. I want to make that person an attractive person. Because I’ve never felt that way about myself, maybe at least I can manipulate it through editing, right? Not quite.


Body dysmorphia is terrible. I should be proud of how far I’ve come, but all I can do is yell at myself for how close I was to my goal, and how much I’ve let slip away.

And what do I do about it? Nothing! I could be doing more exercises to tone the areas I’m extremely uncomfortable with (my stomach and my chest), but I don’t. Because no one is holding me accountable. Stupid, I know.

I started running a month ago. And I’ve put on 5 pounds. How flipping discouraging is that? I’m doing more strenuous activity than I’ve ever done and my body just mocks me.

I don’t know what I’m supposed to do to fix my body image issues. I wish I did. I wish I could stop looking at a mirror or a picture of myself and just stop seeing a distorted funhouse mirror version of myself. But I can’t. I don’t know how long I’ve had these feelings. I was in amazing shape when I was in my first year of college (before marriage), but pretty quickly started putting on weight over the next 10 years. When I look at the picture above I wish I could get back to that. I tell myself I would be happy now if I were that person again.

But I know I wasn’t happy with that person when I was there, either.

I could lie and tell you it’s not an every day battle, but it really is. Every day when I have to put on this shirt. Every evening when I climb into bed (which, surprisingly I can’t sleep with a lot of clothes on so that certainly doesn’t help). Every time I see a picture of myself. Every time I look in the mirror and notice my hair is not looking good. Or that it is staring to recede. Or that I look terrible with facial hair. Or that I wish I didn’t have to wear glasses. But putting contacts in is such a hassle. Or that I never feel comfortable with my clothing style. Or how I struggle when I run. Or that I constantly question if I’m eating the wrong things or the wrong amounts. Or thinking about all the toning exercises I should be doing but never do. Every day when I see people who just make things look so effortless.

It’s exhausting.


I wouldn’t wish body dysmorphia on my worst enemy. It literally eats you alive from the inside out. Honestly, I’m surprised I never battled with an eating disorder as much as I don’t have self love for myself. I think it’s because I just stopped looking in the mirror for a long time. And I “noped” out of a lot of picture opportunities.

Someday it will get better. I’m trying to learn to love myself, but it’s not easy.

So the next time you hear me give someone a compliment about the way they look, know that I am saying it with a lot of intentionality and meaning. It is not a superficial remark. I don’t ever want anyone to feel about themselves the way I feel about myself. And if I’m giving you, or someone close to you a compliment? It’s coming from deep in my heart and carries more weight than you probably think (in a making you feel positivity sort of way, if that makes sense).


Dear God,

Today I’m praying boldly and selfishly. I’m praying that You help me overcome these negative feelings and help me to start loving myself. Please continue to guide me towards living a healthier life. I hope to be healthier to live a longer life to be able to do more good in this world for You.

I want to be able to be more active with my loved ones and spend more quality time with them. To be a support and role model for my children.

Please help me in overcoming my control issues with food. And help me in having more will power to be more active and do the things I know I should be doing. My body was given to me by You and I need to be treating it as the gift it is.

Amen


You ARE beautiful. Every single one of you. I hope if you hear it enough it will eventually start to sink in.

With all my love.

Kyle

Self Realization And Fighting Back

Family, God, Life, love, pain, Prayer

Today will be a short post, but one that I need to document so I have it to come back to when/if these feelings return.

I recently had some much needed conversations with a few pretty great people in my life. And in opening up about things that I didn’t know I was still keeping in, I realized that I can be a major hypocrite. I’ve learned that my words can be extremely powerful tools when used correctly. I’m really good at making others feel good. I can find the words that they need to hear pretty quickly.

But, I’ve noticed, I am terrible at taking my own advice.

I’ve been telling a loved one recently not to hide her joy from the world, regardless of other’s perceptions.

Helloooooo! Do you not listen to yourself when you speak, Kyle?

So I’ve made a decision…

I’m no longer going to turn my back and run from the fear. I am going to stand my ground and I am going to fight my fear head on. I have a lot of joy to give to this world, and I’m going to give it!

So I am going to be joining the children’s ministry at church once all of this craziness subsides. I can make a difference in these kids’ lives and help guide them to be fellow Jesus followers. And they bring so much happiness to my life, why would I want to run from that?

And I am going to go out of my way to compliment others whenever I can. I know where the intentions in my heart lie, and I know for a fact that having others speak positively of and to you is such an amazing feeling. We need more love in this world. I may be one small grain of sand, but last I checked a mustard seed could move a mountain.

And I am taking back the word beautiful.

We need to use this word more often and remind others of what it really means. It should be taken as a compliment and bring happiness to who it is shared with. When the world can often be an ugly place, it is a blessing to be reminded that you stand out against that and have so much value.

And I’m going to be mending relationships with some of those I have pushed away. I have a lot of love to give this world, and the people who saw the worst side of me deserve to see me at my best.

I have a lot of opportunities coming up for me over the next year. Instead of questioning if I could or should be taking them on, I am going to take them for what they are – blessings. I will use the opportunities to do so much good for as many people as I can.

I was given a second chance for a reason, and I am not going to waste it. I couldn’t have told you 18 months ago that life would have played out the way it has. I believe God is guiding me to do something greater in this world, even if that only begins here locally.

I am giving myself, fully, to God. I am letting go of the fear. Jesus loved unconditionally and faced His fears. If He were living my life, I know He would do as much good for the world while He could.

And that’s enough for me. I will no longer be a hypocrite. I will not hide my joy from this world any longer.

…if anything matters then everything matters. Because you are important, everything you do is important. Every time you forgive, the universe changes; every time you reach out and touch a heart or a life, the world changes; with every kindness and service, seen or unseen, my purposes are accomplished and nothing will be the same again.

William P. Young – The Shack

Dear God,

I finally get it. I do not know what it is exactly that I am supposed to be doing with this life, but I know that I will be doing it for You. I give myself to You, and will follow Your guidance.

I will make a difference in this world, not for myself but for You, in Your name. When I die, if I have no money to my name but have touched others hearts I will have lived a successful life. If no one remembers my name when I am gone, but even one person has a better relationship with You I will have lived a successful life. If when I am gone I have lived a life for You, and used your blessings and gifts to bring love and joy to others lives, then I will have lived a successful life.

Here I am, Lord, fully surrendered to Your love. I am ready to serve You and to serve others. I am above no one, and will love everyone unconditionally, for that is Your will. It’s time for me to no longer squander the blessings You have bestowed upon me. I will no longer hide behind fear.

I know there will be struggles along the way, so I ask that You please continue to protect me through them.

This evening I pray that you please lift the burdens that my loved ones are carrying. Please gently caress their heads as they sleep tonight and remove some of the heaviness on their hearts. Please wrap them with a warm embrace that I wish I could give them but am unable to. Let them feel Your love and mine through Your presence.

Please speak to those who are in immense pain and uncertainty during these trying times. I beg You to please hold tightly to those who are ready to meet You sooner than they are meant to. There is so much good that they can bring to this world, and although they may find it unbearable right now, I hope You will provide them clarity. Let the love and support that their loved ones have given them seep into their hearts and fill the void that has been created. They need You so much right now, especially when others cannot be there for them. They are such beautiful people that have a voice that needs to be heard. Please let Your words flow through them for many, many blessed years.

Please continue looking after those who are fighting this pandemic. It is not Your doing, but please let people know You are by their side through it all.

Please protect everyone, but especially those who are on the front lines of fighting this. They are putting their own lives on the line, and often potentially giving up their families, to be there for others. Your love is so evident in them.

Amen

As a reminder, you are beautiful. I love you!

With all my love!

Kyle

Forgiveness and letting go…

Family, Life

So before I even begin, let me start by getting the obvious out of the way.

I am a huge hypocrite.

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I can hold grudges until the end of days.I will remember the time you screwed up. I will throw it back in your face years and years down the road.

But it’s time to let it all go.

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I am on a path in life now where I can’t let the past linger any longer. I have been hurt in the past. Deceived, used, mistreated, lied to, put down, the list goes on and on.

And I am a good person, but I will be honest, I have hoped for some bad things to happen to people. Not like psycho bad, just karma bad.

I can be resentful. I can be petty. I can be downright mean. My, usually carefully selected, words can cut through like a dull knife, slow and painful.

But I have these three beautiful children who look up to me as a role model. They watch my every move, they mimic me. They idolize me. And yet I don’t teach them. I instruct them, but I don’t show them. I don’t lead them.

Just to get a couple of things out of the way. I have never done anything truly “bad” in life. Never been in trouble with the law, never done drugs, never physically harmed anything (other than spiders!), never even had a drop of alcohol in my life. In fact, I don’t even cuss. Ever.

But I can be a hypocrite. I can be a liar. I can be mean. And I’m trying to teach these kids not to be these things. How can I expect my children to actually learn these things when all I’m doing is saying words. I am not mean to my children, I am not mean to my wife (although, again, I will be honest and say I have been in the past, whether intentionally or not).

I am probably one of the most respectable and polite people in public, especially around strangers. I am a strong believer that you just don’t know what someone else is going through and to never judge. I even leave full tips for terrible servers. Maybe they are just having a bad day.

But to people I know personally, where I know a little about their lives, their mistakes, their effects on those around them, I am highly critical.

And it makes me a bad person. And my kids can see this. And I have to stop.

So I am going to work on forgiveness.

I need to forgive myself for the things I’ve done. I need to forgive others for the way they have hurt me.

I have mentioned before that I am an introvert. I have, literally, no friends outside of family (which even that is very limited). Anytime I have let people in in the past they have hurt me or my family one way or another. So today I am forgiving you.

The words of my parents echoed softly in the past, but today they are ringing loud in my ears. Mom – “Choose your battles.” Dad – “It’s not worth it.”

So the battles have not been won or lost. They have been forfeited. They are gone.

“Most of us need time to work through pain and loss. We can find all manner of reasons for postponing forgiveness. One of these reasons is waiting for the wrongdoers to repent before we forgive them. Yet such a delay causes us to forfeit the peace and happiness that could be ours.” – James E. Faust

I forgive you.

..

I forgive you.

..

Those who have hurt me and my family will likely never, ever read this post.

But I still forgive you.

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I am letting go of the disdain, the hatred, the pain, the suffering. The cruelness from my heart is going away. I am a good person. I need to show my children.

And I ask for forgiveness to those who I have hurt with my words and actions.

I apologize.

I apologize for the pain, for the tears, for the hatred, for the cruelness, for the intentional and unintentional consequences that have stemmed from me.

I am truly sorry.

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I am more than that man. I am a loving father and husband. I try to give when I can. I try to help when I can. I make regular trips to donate items to the homeless shelter. I work on an employee committee at work that gives back to the employees and the community.

I am was a hypocrite. I will be a leader to my children. I will teach them with my actions, not only my words.

I will be a positive role model. I will be a better father. I will be a better husband. I will be a better son. I will be a better brother. I will be a better uncle. I will be a better friend (if I ever have one of those again someday). I will be a better person.

My boss said something to me a few weeks ago that has really resonated with me. She told me that even though I’m not a highly religious person I have an incredibly strong moral compass.

And I agree with her. But in the past I have always seen the world as either white or black. Shades of grey didn’t exist. But they do. The lines aren’t so distinct. They are subtle. They are discretionary. And what I may see as “right” or “wrong” may not be , and is probably not always, right.

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There is good and bad in this world, but not everyone falls into being a “good” or a “bad” person. Mistakes happen. Life happens.

Forgiveness happens.

“It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody.” – Maya Angelou

Today is a new day. And a beautiful one at that. Today I cleanse my heart. I will wash away the pain. It’s a fresh start.

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I will make it count. I will do something good with it.

“It’s not an easy journey, to get to a place where you forgive people. But it is such a powerful place, because it frees you.” – Tyler Perry

K~