When I started 12WBT we were asked to create screen names - for use on the forums etc. As you know, I called myself 'Coco Girl' (for a play on words that you can see in the title/description of this blog).
Instantly, I felt safe. I had a name to hide behind. No-one knew who I was - I spent hours creating my profile picture - of the pink butterfly - not a photo of me. I felt strong and safe enough to write on the forums, on this blog, on Facebook and on Twitter, all of my deep and dark thoughts and feelings, my history, my questions, MYSELF. I was hiding behind a name and that made it ok. I could be ENTIRELY honest. No hiding anything, completely baring my soul. There was Coco Girl, spilling her guts out all over the internet. And I, the real life person behind it, didn't mind doing this, because no-one knew it was ME.
There was Coco Girl and then there was me. Same person, both being honest, but was Coco being more honest...?
About halfway through my 1st round (Round 2, 2012), I decided to open up to my fellow 30+ crew members on Facebook, as to what my screen name was. Everyone shared so many personal stories and photos in that group, and it got to a point where I felt safe to 'bare' myself to some people...these safe people. I didn't make a grand announcement (because no-one else would care if they knew my screen name or not - not that they wouldn't care, but I was the one with the issue- they wouldn't have known any different). So I let it slip into conversation in a post one day. No-one probably even noticed. No-one minded, and of course no-one turned around and wrote "you're Coco Girl??". It was fine! And completely in my head!
In saying that though, I was so overcome with putting myself 'out there', that I had a dream that night that I was naked on a nudist beach, while being filmed by Channel 7 and Channel 9 on live TV. (For those who don't understand, a common meaning of 'being naked in public dreams' is that you feel extremely vulnerable and exposed.) Uhh- yeah I was!
Phew! That was out of the way! Still, I didn't tell anyone else. A few of my non-12WBT friends asked to read my blog, and I always changed the topic and never gave them the link. I didn't put any photos of myself on here. (Actually I did - a very long distance group photo - and a miniscule tiny photo that no-one would have recognised, but just in case, I took it down). I was petrified of being found out.
A few weeks later, coincedentally on the very same day the Pre-Season for Round 3 'shout it out to the world' task was announced, Mish emailed everyone who was doing Round 3 and suggested that they do a blog, amongst other things. She included the links to a few blogs as examples, and one of them was mine -- Coco Butter.
A few hours later, I got a text message from my sister-in-law...........she was signed up for Round 3, had clicked on Mish's email link, started reading my blog and recognised that it was mine. (She had read the post about my home 'gym' and recognised the photos I took). My sister-in-law's SMS was beautiful. It was so loving and supportive and she said she loved my blog, respected my journey even more now that she understood where I had come from, and that as soon as she realised it was me, that she stopped reading as she felt like she was reading my personal diary.
Her response couldn't have been better. However, I completely freaked out - I ran to the bathroom at work, I was red and hot all over and crying my heart out. If I didn't feel naked last time, I surely did now. I couldn't believe that someone I knew, a family member at that, had read this. I calmed myself down and finally texted her back :) and over the next few hours, something amazing happened. I started to rationalise it, and truly think about it. Why was I hiding? What was I hiding from?
I read the best newspaper article once. It was one of those "Dear Aunty" columns where readers would ask "Aunty" those difficult questions and she would reply with some witty but decent advice. One reader wrote in and asked something along the lines of that her sister was very overweight, obese even, and that she didn't know how to tell her that she should do something about it. "Aunty" replied with the best line. She said with mock sarcasm: 'I hate to break this to you, but if your sister is obese....SHE ALREADY KNOWS.' I loved it. It was basically telling the story of how Mish says, the 'elephant in the room' that nobody speaks about. If someone is obese, THEY KNOW. And what I have recently realised myself, EVERYBODY ELSE KNOWS too. They don't always say anything, they usually don't. But people know.
I've had moments when I've shared something about my weight situation with a friend, and they haven't been shocked. This has, although, shocked ME - "they know??" It's funny how our minds work. I have the most distorted image of myself. I truthfully can not look at 2 photos of myself and tell you in which one I am bigger. My view is that distorted, or fucked up! So I guess for a while I lived in my nice little dream land, where no-one could tell that I was 141kg. It was my little secret. Yeah right.
So back to the story - the tell the world day! After processing this, I suddenly felt really empowered. I felt like it was ok to share, that this was ok. I actually sent an out of the blue email to 2 friends who had asked to read my blog, and sent them the link. It was funny, I didn't have to tell the world myself in that pre-season task, Mish took care of it for me! And it was ok. :) See, she knows what she's doing!
So that's how it was for a few weeks. Then at finale, I spoke to a few people about this, and a couple of them encouraged me to put myself out there, to share photos, to not care. At the finale party I was swanning around with a name badge saying 'Coco Girl'. That in itself made me feel strong and it was liberating!
And it got me thinking. A massive part of this journey has been changing my mindset. It's made me share things with people that I have never, ever shared before. It's made me more confident. It's encouraged me to bare my soul, my heart, my mind and it's given me the opportunity to be honest with myself. The things that I've shared with 12WBT'ers and even non 12WBT'er friends, is insane. But as much as I have shared, I have felt so confident in doing so. I've taken a lot of inspiration from others who have been very open with their journies. Their journies have inspired me to no end, because they have shared so much. And when I see people's reactions to them, no-one is dissing them; people are jumping up and down with support and encouragement and getting inspired themselves. I guess I had to remember that I'm not in highschool any more. The bitchy Year 9'ers aren't going to laugh at me.
For the past few weeks I've been thinking a lot about this and considered sharing the 'real me'. I realised that I don't know what I'm hiding. People who I know, know that I'm fat. They know that my weight has gone up and down. They know. So why am I hiding? We only live once. Why not be open with the world? I am the most open person I know. I am an open book and wear my heart on my sleeve 24/7. Except when it comes to this stuff. Why? Everyone needs inspiration in their lives, honesty, truth, all that stuff. I have gotten so much of that from others who have been brave enough to share their journies with me. Maybe I can be as brave as them?
Last week, as a test, I sent my link, out of the blue, to a few close friends. One of them, and her beautiful mother, both sent me cards in the mail (yes, Australia Post, actual cards!) :) to say thank you for sharing my journey with them, and encouraged me to keep going. That reaction kind of sealed the deal. We are all human, we all have our ups and our downs, and when we share, we let people in. I'm feeling empowered now. Don't get me wrong, I'm terrified too - but in an excited way. I've hidden this for too long, I'm putting myself out there. Some people may not understand how huge this is for me - but I don't have the greatest self confidence or esteem (that's an understatement!) and when you've kept something hidden for 15 years, it kind of becomes a personal, private part of you.
So, enough discussion and thinking and reasoning. This may be the most liberating thing I've ever done. This is who I am. Undressing myself for you right here. My name is Kate. I will still call myself Coco Girl because I like it, but my name is Kate. I say that I wear my heart on my sleeve? Well now, I truly do.
|Before and after photos of my first round. 2nd photo taken at finale....Coco Girl :)|