Inches.

I have never been the skinny girl.
I will never be able to talk about when I was a tiny, slender little teenager, who never knew just how skinny she really was, because the reality is this: I’ve struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember. Granted, I’ve never been over 200 pounds, nor have I accrued major health problems due to my weight. Nevertheless, I have struggled. It’s hard to be a chubby girl surrounded by “perfect” figures everywhere you look- magazines, TV, and the girl sitting next to you in your 9th grade English class.

I haven’t always hated being bigger, however. In elementary school, I started a secret club for the “fat girls” in our class- a club that lasted for about ten minutes until we were discovered and had to put a stop to it, for fear that someone might feel left out. We didn’t start the club because we wanted to hate on skinny girls- it was just a group where everyone felt alike. We all knew what it was like to be a chubby girl in elementary (oh, the struggle!), and it felt good to have comrades.

In 7th grade, I had gotten bigger, but it didn’t bother me too much. I told myself that the uniform pants that didn’t fit and took me ten minutes to wrestle on around my girth made my butt look good, and it didn’t matter that I was overflowing around my waistband; my peers wouldn’t notice.

Hopefully they didn’t notice my
unibrow, either,

By 8th grade, I had officially reached the point where my bellybutton was visible through my shirts, because my stomach stuck out that much.
I didn’t necessarily care, though. I was still curvy, meaning that even though I had to carefully maneuver myself in between the desks at school so I wouldn’t knock something over with my large hips, it was okay. Those child-birthing hips were dang fine!

Eventually, I realized something. I was wearing a size XL while others my age could still fit into children’s sizes! I was a size 16 when most of my friends hadn’t even cracked a size 8 yet. All of a sudden, I couldn’t stand myself. I needed a way out. I just wasn’t sure how I would find one.

9th grade came around, and I finally decided to make a change. I made a goal that I would stop eating sugar completely. I had done some research, and I knew how bad it was for your body. I hoped I would lose some weight by doing that, but  mainly wanted to see if I could go a whole year without consuming any sugar.
It was hard. It was so hard to say no to the things that I loved and craved, but I was stubborn. I WOULD make it a year without eating sugar. At first, a lot of people teased me about my choice, and tried to convince me to sneak an Oreo here, or taste a brownie there. But I stood firm. I was determined.

And eventually, the most amazing thing happened! I began to lose the weight I had packed on throughout the years. I watched my pant size go from a 16, to a 14, to a 12, and, finally, a 10. A 10!! I was one size away from being in the single digits! I no longer had to buy shirts that were extra large, or even large. I was a solid medium.
As it came time to go to college, I began to panic. I could NOT gain the freshman 15. I just couldn’t. I hadn’t worked so hard for years to let it all go to waste because I was living on my own. So I made my mind up to be the healthiest I could be, and for the majority of the year I achieved just that. I was smaller than I had ever been, and I felt better about myself than I did in years- I could even fit into an 8 in some clothing brands!

I finally, FINALLY felt good enough about myself to want to highlight some of my best features, so I did. I had a little bit of a pooch around my tummy, but when I lied down, it would disappear and my stomach would be flat- something that was a new sensation for me. I watched with delight as my face slimmed down to reveal cheekbones to rival Kim Kardashian’s (in my mind at least), my thighs shrunk down from all the bike riding I was doing, and I was just… Happy. I wasn’t skinny, but I was finally in a place where I felt beautiful most of the time.

Then I started going out with Tanner, and we started eating out at restaurants more often, and my bike wasn’t used nearly as much as I was more often found in the front seat of his car. One thing led to another, and I started eating sugar after more than 4 years of abstaining. I didn’t notice any major changes until one day, after struggling to button my favorite pair of capris, they ripped apart on my thighs. In a big way.

From there it just got worse. I barely fit any of the clothes I had bought in Thatcher, and one by one I watched my jeans rip and tear as my waistline grew. For the record, I don’t blame Tanner for any of this. Weight gain is a common thing when you start going out with someone, because your eating habits change to accommodate visits to restaurants, and your significant other’s personal preferences. It’s nobody’s fault. It’s natural. But it still is difficult to accept.

I have watched myself grow from a 10 to a 14 in just a few months. It’s like I’m trapped in a balloon, but the balloon is me. I can’t even look in a mirror anymore. It hurts too much. When I lay down at night, there is a bulge where there used to be a flat stomach and hip bones. A lot of my shirts are difficult to take off because they get stuck around my fat arms. I hate wearing jeans more than anything, because they just don’t fit me. The jeans that I bought in a size 13 are now giving me a muffin top, and they cut off my breathing. So I wear mostly yoga pants, or skirts, because they’re stretchy and they don’t make me look like a busted can of biscuits. I’m not wearing yoga pants because I’m lazy, nor do I want to strike lust into the hearts of men. I wear them because they are more  forgiving than my jeans, and I feel like I can hide the fact that I’ve gotten fat when I’m wearing them. So, for anyone who’s personally offended or disgusted by yoga pants, chill, okay? Sometimes they’re a security blanket, because they fit when nothing else does.

Do you have any idea how painful it is to watch the body I worked so hard for disappear? I have a double chin again. I hate getting dressed in the morning, because I have to figure out what is going to fit me today, all the while praying I can button up my pants. It. Hurts. So. Much.

One of the worst parts about being unhappy with your appearance, is you’re basically not allowed to talk about it. In today’s society of body positivity, you MUST love yourself
AT
ALL
TIMES.
Feeling fat isn’t a thing anymore! You’re beautiful just the way you are! Curves are beautiful! Just embrace it! LOVE ALL YOUR FLAWS. NEVER CHANGE.
It feels like I’ve been muzzled. Every time I’ve brought up my dissatisfaction with myself, I am immediately silenced.
“You’re not fat, you’re beautiful! Stop thinking like that. Don’t say things like that again.”
Why is it okay to discuss our fears and worries until it comes to our waistline? Why do I have to unconditionally accept the fact that I’m getting bigger? Why, for heaven’s sake, can I not talk to anyone about the pain I am feeling? Telling me to stop feeling that way just shows that you’re uncomfortable talking about this issue and it would be better for everyone if I could just stop.

Sometimes, I need someone to listen to me. I need someone to understand how I’m feeling, and rather than dismissing it with, “but you’re beautiful!” offer some support. Remind me that I can do this. I lost all the weight once, and I can do it again. I don’t want to be alone, and I especially don’t want to be quiet about it.
I think that it’s okay to not be completely satisfied with your appearance. How am I ever going to change anything if I just sit and accept the fact that everything I worked for is gone? How will I better myself as a person if I just decide that I don’t need to keep trying; as long as I’m “happy”?

It is okay to want to change. And it’s okay to be sad about this. I don’t hate myself as a person, I just know that I shouldn’t have become lax about the goals I had in mind. Emotions, good AND bad, are an important part of the human experience. It’s okay to be sad about the inches I’ve added on.

That will make the disappearance of said inches all the happier.

~Haeley

A year.

365 days ago yesterday began the most eventful year of my life. I figured it would be, but I had no idea just HOW eventful it would be.
Isn’t it interesting just how much can change in just one year? Looking back and remembering is so crazy. This year not only taught me many things about the world, and the people around me, it taught me a lot about myself.

The day I moved in and was truly on my own was surreal. Walking into my apartment for the first time with my parents by my side and a host of boxes in the car gave me butterflies something fierce. This was it. In only a matter of hours, my parents would leave me on my own, and I would begin life as an adult. Was I ready? Could I do this? I guess I would find out soon enough. We had a good day together, organizing my things, trying to enjoy each moment we had together.

Then it was time for my parents to go. It was a bittersweet moment, watching them drive away. Granted, they would be back in just a few days for my class registration, but it still felt kind of scary. After they came on Wednesday, I had no idea when I would see them again.

However, as scary as it was, I was so excited. I was on my own! My life was beginning in earnest! There was no telling what would happen now.

Over the next few months, I grew in so many ways. Before I moved, I was worried that eventually I would stop going to church, because the decision was 100% mine. But I never willingly missed a Sunday! And I really enjoyed my ward. There were some genuinely good people there. It was comforting to know that my faith was strong enough to carry me through independent life, and it made me feel good knowing that I really did have my own testimony, and I wasn’t blindly following my parent’s beliefs.

I learned that being alone doesn’t have to be a lonely experience. I spent a lot of time on my own, since I didn’t have too many friends in Thatcher. At first, I was a bit sad about not being as much of a social butterfly, but in time I came to accept that sometimes it’s okay to be friends with just yourself. I took so many walks and bike rides in that pretty little town. I loved exploring by myself, and I found so many beautiful places that I never would have, had I stayed home feeling sorry for myself. I think everyone should take advantage of where they live. There’s beauty everywhere, if you look hard enough! Take some time to yourself, and enjoy who you are when nobody’s around.

Among learning how fabulous I look with purple hair, and how performing arts might not be for me after all, I learned something even more important: give everyone a fair chance when it comes to dating.

Not saying that you should keep dating someone you know is wrong for you, or putting up with unsavory behavior because you don’t know that you’ll find anyone better, of course. But give people a chance. I dated around a lot in the months before Tanner. I dated people I was not interested in, but I went anyway because people can surprise you sometimes! I went on many a date where I hardly knew the boy, and at the end of the night, I had made myself a friend. Heck, I wasn’t really all that interested in Tanner when we went on our first date! But I gave him a chance, and I’ve never regretted it.

Dating is so much fun! Don’t be afraid of asking someone out, or going out with someone you don’t know super well. Use your best judgement, of course, and don’t go out with someone you’re pretty sure could kill you in your sleep. ;^)

Who would have ever thought that on the one year anniversary of my moving out, I would be going on my third month of marriage? I’m so glad I was able to attend EAC. It taught me so much about life, about love, and about who I am. I am so grateful to my Heavenly Father for giving me the opportunities He did, and although I miss Thatcher something fierce, I got a pretty cool keepsake out of the deal, don’t you think? ;^)

What a wonderful, stressful, scary, crazy, awesome year it’s been. Who knows what will happen in the next year? Only time will tell….

~Haeley

Dear me.

Dear me,

Let’s talk for a minute, Haeley-to-Haeley. Cool?
I promise I’m not mad at you, so don’t freak out. I just need to remind you of a few things.

I need you to take a step back and appreciate your life for the crazy, wonderful, mess that it is right now. I need you to remember that these days won’t last forever, and you’ll eventually look back on them with incredible fondness.

No, you’re not dying, divorcing, or anything traumatic. It’s just…

You’re not pregnant.
And that’s okay. The two of you aren’t trying to have a baby yet, anyway. Still, your baby hunger is real, and boy is it persistent. Each month is a mixture of emotions for you as you simultaneously hope your period doesn’t show up, while at the same time worrying that it won’t. It’s a strange state of being, isn’t it? What would it be like to wake up one morning and not be doubled over with cramps? What would it be like to be a few days late and secretly hope that your period just wasn’t going to come? What would it be like to watch those two pink lines show up on a pregnancy test, confirming what you were hoping and praying for?

I’ll tell you what it would be like- or, at least, what I imagine what it would be like. It would be amazing. It would be the biggest rush of emotions, knowing that there was a life growing inside of you, and that in a few months, you and your husband would be parents. It would be so exciting, while at the same time being scary and daunting.
I have no doubt that it would be worth it, either. Having a baby to love and care for is the dream, after all!

But it’s not the dream right now. And what you need to understand, sweet girl, is that it’s okay! Please remember that although you may feel older than you are, you’re still only 19. You are still in your teens, Haeley! You’re still a baby! Having a baby will be wonderful, and beautiful, and scary, and the most wonderful thing is you are still so young. You can wait a few years, I promise. You’re okay. Your biological clock isn’t ticking quite yet. ;^)

For now, I want you to enjoy this part of life. You only get to be a newlywed once, you know. So take advantage of it! Go dancing with your husband, and feel free to forget what song is playing because you’re too busy kissing him to pay attention. Enjoy how excited you get when you come home from work and he’s there, waiting for you and only you. Cuddle up to him each night and hold him as close to you as possible, because this time is limited. You have the rest of your life to be a mom, but you only have right now to have it be just the two of you.

So go ahead, live your life to the very fullest. Feel free to be as passionate as you want to, in whatever you’re doing. The two of you are so, so young, so go out and LIVE while you can! Take a random trip to a city you’ve never heard of. Stay up all night watching movies without worrying about waking up the baby. Go on dates as often as you want to without worrying about a babysitter. Make sure your siblings are annoyed by your constant cuddling and general lovey-dovey talk.

Haeley, you’ve wanted a relationship like this since you were 12. Do you know how lucky you are? Start appreciating the lovely little family you have right now, and know that in the Lord’s time your children will come to you. But don’t worry about it right at this moment, please. Enjoy being a newlywed while you can, and love that sweet husband of yours with every last ounce of yourself.

Because someday, you’ll wake up in the middle of the night, because the little creature the two of you created needs you. And someday you will have to find a babysitter in order to spend a little alone time with the boy who still gives you butterflies when he holds your hand.

Someday, you will be utterly drained and exhausted, but more full of love than you ever thought. Someday, you will have a beautiful little child running through the sprinklers, giggling and squealing, and you will marvel at just how you lived without them. And throughout the years, you will watch that child grow up into their own person, and eventually they will find their own spouse, and you’ll remember this time again, when it was just your husband and you, and you’ll hope your children are even half as happy as you are.

These years are coming, Haeley. They are. And they will be the best years of your life, but those years have already begun. Look into Tanner’s eyes and know that all you need is in front of you. He is so wonderful to you. sweetheart. You couldn’t have done better.

Remember that.

Love, me.

~Haeley