I often think about this little girl with a round face, chubby arms and sad eyes. I see how she struggles in her life, and I so desperately want to help her.
I want her to be happy.
I want the daily teasings about her weight -- from friends and family -- to stop.
I'd love to see one of her many young crushes reciprocated.
It's not her fault she's overweight -- she's 8 years old, for crying out loud. It's not like you can blame this little girl for her body, for the excess weight.
I'm 40 years old. I can blame myself for my body. I can blame myself for not being good enough to be in a relationship. I can blame myself for not eating better, for allowing myself to succumb to bad feelings. I should have more self-discipline. I should be more diligent about exercising. I should drink more water. I had my chance when I lost 150 pounds and I blew it. I am to blame for my many failures in weight-loss.
For this little girl, I have sympathy and empathy. For myself, not so much. I don't feel like I deserve it.
The thing is? That little girl is me.
When I see this photo of myself from my First Holy Communion, I feel horrible for the girl in the picture. I wish I could turn back time and give her a happier life. I wish she didn't have to sit on the school bus and endure daily taunting. I wish she hadn't been bribed by family members to lose weight. I wish she didn't have to feel so ashamed of something she had no control over.
But when I look in the mirror, or fail to finish a run, I am consumed with self-hatred.
I must learn to make the connection -- that she is me, and if I love her, I need to love myself. If I can find empathy for her, I should for myself as well. Why it's so hard, I have no idea. But I keep this photo on my wall so I can see it every day and try.