#MyBodyStory is an ongoing storytelling series uplifting women’s bodies and voices. Because every body has a story, and every story deserves to be heard!
The opinions expressed in #MyBodyStory are the writer’s own.
And now, here is Nora’s #MyBodyStoryI always dreamed of being perfect.The perfect daughter, the perfect woman, the perfect person for whoever was in front of me. I didn’t realize for a long time, that the only person who mattered in the equation was me- and I was destroying her. My name is Nora, I identify as pansexual, and I went through an eating disorder from the age of 15 till the age of 17. I grew up in an extremely conservative household, where I wasn’t allowed to do many things any free person should. Small things like cutting my hair were forbidden. Bigger things, like questioning my father or speaking my mind about my sexuality, were also forbidden.
My father was an ultra conservative Christian, who believed that anyone pertaining to the LGBTQIA+ community was a sinner and going to hell. He was also very abusive with the way he addressed me, my mother and brother, constantly making awful remarks about our bodies, ideas and mindsets. He called me and my mother “cows”and constantly compared us to other women who were “better” than us- this usually was, as you can imagine, thinner women. Although I rebelled against his worldview when I was a teenager, what I didn’t know is that sometimes the worst part about psychological abuse is it can follow you around even after the barriers that once kept you from being free are no longer there.
For years family members and people who knew me were unaware of the abuse that my mother, brother, and I went through. If I tried to communicate how I felt about constantly being judged, repressed, or body-shamed I would get the same response: “Parents don’t know how to say the right things, but they love you.” However, people who love you are willing to learn. Love is not toxic. Love does not make you feel so awful about yourself that you would rather die than live. If there is anything I learned throughout my teenage years it’s that the saying “stick and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt” isn’t true. Because words do hurt.
Words break. And words can kill.
I began realizing I wasn’t straight (which terrified me because of the consequences it could have) as soon as I hit puberty. I constantly lived under the fear that if my father found out, the consequences could be unspeakable. He always spoke about the LGBTQIA+ community in a very disrespectful way, even suggesting that its members were nothing but people possessed by demons. The level of fanaticism and hatred I breathed in constantly killed my spirit and made me hate my life, but also made me hate myself- because nothing around me was saying it’s OK to be me.
In many ways, I just wanted to die.
Shortly after my parents divorced, which made us move from Spain to Puerto Rico, I had a very hard crash and became completely terrified of having made a huge mistake by daring to live as my heart pushed me to. I was constantly in a state of guilt, feeling like I had ruined myself, my life and everything I could ever aspire to be. The voices of all the people I had ever met resonated in my ears: “You’re not worthy. Your opinion isn’t valid, You’re fat so you can’t be beautiful.”
So I starved myself.
I wanted to punish the body I’d been born in; the body that was sinful, that my father had mocked. The body that I felt was unworthy of loving. I would skip meals, eat as little as I could. Even my own father started saying I was “too skinny”. That was the only time I ever felt he approved of me. However, no matter how thin I got I never felt like it was enough. So I have very few pictures from that time. I posted this on my Instagram to show the change from the time of my life in which I was in pain, to the state I am in right now. The picture on the right was 5 years ago- the picture on the left is only from a few months ago.
In the midst of the crisis I was undergoing, I kept thinking that if I could somehow manage to slip out of my sexual orientation, I would be worthy. So when I started college- because not eating was no longer an option if I wanted to avoid people asking- I started punishing myself in other ways. It wasn’t until life took its toll on me and I started gaining weight again that I started realizing what I had been going through for so long. I opened my eyes to the truth: I was a person that would never fit in with my father’s worldview.
I realized that I had been hating myself because I was trying to conform to ideals, stereotypes and expectations that were not only wrong but also completely destructive. I started realizing that I had gone through an eating disorder, that it wasn’t my fault and that I deserved to be loved. I realized that you don’t choose who you love; love chooses you. And love doesn’t have anything to do with your sex, gender or physical appearance. Love is much greater than that. This realization was what started me on my journey through happiness.
Recently, I gained some more weight and I faced triggers that were huge for me, like stretch marks showing up in my belly and spreading more and more throughout my body. But body positive communities such as this one helped me to see my body changing as something natural, something that I did not need to be ashamed of. Something that made sense.
I want to finish by telling you that yesterday, I got my first tattoo: a rose. When I was young and lived thinking nothing would ever change I used to look at roses and envy their freedom. I swore that if I were ever able to live my truth, I would get a tattoo of a rose. And because of the way my life looks now, I was finally able to do it. Right now, if my body could tell a story, it would be one of liberation; one of happiness after suffering; one of rainbows after storms.
All my life I tried to be perfect. All my life I tried to make sense. The only thing I didn’t realize is that I already did. Trying to change myself was what ruined my body, my health and my existence. But I am free now. And you can be too. Happy pride month, I hope that you can live out your truth. Just like I now live mine.
Follow Nora on Instagram