Since I was 15, I've had issues with my body. My male cousins used to tease me by calling me fat, which opened up the door for me to question my self-worth. They constantly let me know that the world was judging me, and that no one would ever love me — or even like me — if I didn't look a certain way.
You might think that finding a relationship that made me feel grounded and secure and safe and loved would cure me of the fear that my weight would obliterate that love. And when I first met my husband, I did feel that way. But it didn't work out quite like that.
After I had a baby, fear started creeping into my mind. Part of me wondered if my husband would stop loving me because I couldn't lose the extra pounds I'd gained while I was pregnant. The fear that his love for me was waning was absolutely killing me. But then he said the one thing that alleviated my concerns about my postpartum body, and I'm so grateful to him for it.
A year and a half after I gave birth, my weight was still about where it was right after I gave birth. I always kept a pillow around so I could conceal my body when my husband was around, even though I knew he saw me every day. I knew it was irrational, but I was terrified that a good, hard glimpse of me would make him love me less. Paranoia and self-hatred were controlling my thoughts, and fueling my fears. So one day, I picked up my phone and texted him the words that I could not bear to ask him face-to-face.
If I stayed my current weight forever, I typed, would you still love me?
What if this is me now? , I thought.What if this body doesn’t just go right away? Will he still love me? Will he still desire me?
I'm not sure what I expected him to say back. I was pretty sure he'd say "of course," but I wasn't exactly sure which words he would choose. To be honest, a very large part of me anticipated him saying what I had believed in the back of my mind was true: that he would love me, but that his attraction to me may start to wane; or that sure, he'd love me, but maybe I should get back to the gym because it would be good for my self-esteem.
But he didn't say either of those things. Instead, he said: "Yes, I would love you if you stayed the weight you are now. There is nothing wrong with the weight that you are. You look great, but I'm not with you because of the way you look; I'm with you because I love you."
I was sitting in the front seat of my car, about 45 minutes from home, and I remember that I grabbed the wheel and held on for dear life. I held it tight, and cried so loud I scared people walking by.
I cried, because I had been so caught up in my bullsh*t fear that my body would change anything about my husband's love for me.
I cried because I had finally asked him the question that had been burning inside of me every single day since I had come home from the hospital. My biggest fear was that no matter how undeniably cool I was as a person — and I knew that I was undeniably cool — that my postpartum body would matter to him more. What if this is me now? , I thought.What if this body doesn’t just go right away? Will he still love me? Will he still desire me? Will he leave…? I had to know how he would respond. I had to know.
Ultimately, his response didn’t shock me. I was well-aware when I married him that I was choosing to spend my life with the best man I had ever met. But I had to take my fear and share it with him to clear my mind of my neuroses. I had been tormented by thoughts of him detesting the way I looked, and I had to free myself of them.
After our text exchange, I didn’t run home and change into a sports bra and head to the gym. I didn’t run home and throw myself into his arms. What I did was exactly what I needed to do. I cried, because I was relieved. I cried, because I had been so caught up in my bullsh*t fear that my body would change anything about my husband's love for me. I cried, because I was lucky. To have had a baby – a healthy baby – and to have had that baby with a partner who loved me.