Bend over Backwards

Mahana you ugly

There’s a legend, the legend of Johnny Lingo, about a boy and a girl who love each other. Mahana’s father is terrible to her and the village people call her mahana you ugly. Tama has no parents and he is also an outcast. He promises Mahana that he will leave the island, find a homeland, and come back to take care of her.

He cannot return for 8 years but Mahana waited for him, cared for her father, and searched the horizon for her Tama every single day at sunrise and sunset. Years of brokenness, of not knowing if Tama had lived, made her skeptical of others. She had no reason to trust or love anyone.

Tama came back and paid 8 cows for Mahana as his bride, and suddenly she was the most beautiful and virtuous of all women on the island.

I always wondered if Mahana was beautiful to begin with and the lies she was told made her ‘ugly’, or if she was ‘ugly’…  Tama’s unfailing love brought out her true heart. He treated her like his queen and she surpassed his expectations, but she had to have his love in order to do so for him.

Today… A week ago I weighed in at 128 lbs. Since then my eating disorder has put me through one of the worst episodes I’ve had in over a year. A friend brought me an ENTIRE pepperoni pizza, hoping somehow to help me face this challenge.

Today someone looked at me.

This was someone I like, when he looks I feel something inside warm up and pay attention, it makes me smile. Makes me laugh.

He is very obvious that he finds me attractive and I’ve made it very obvious I need time to heal before I give my heart to anyone

“How are you?”

His eyes traced my figure not just once but three times.

“I’m okay.”

“You look really good.”

“What do you mean?”

“Everything. From your head down and from the bottom to the top everything is looking really good.”

But then he said I just needed to get a bit bigger. If I put on some weight the poly boys will come running…

I joked but then there was a moment where I looked into his eyes and said “It is really hard for me to put on weight.”

And it always has been. I was underweight as a little girl and then I got into athletics. I can’t LIVE without running and working out and sports. I have never managed to put on fat as weight. Never.

My body struggles so hard when I’m trying to gain. And not just because I starved for a year. I struggle to put on anything, bulk, or muscle. It takes months of focused effort to do anything.

I felt so good when he was admiring

And I felt so bad when he wasn’t

When I got home I looked in the mirror, trying to see who he saw. I couldn’t.

What I could see, was a girl bending over backwards, trying to feel anything but neglected. A girl skipping meals and checking clothing sizes and weighing in constantly. Vulnerable and afraid to be seen for who she truly is because her true self is deeply scarred.

If he had any idea what I went through that made me look like this he would never speak of my weight.

I saw my Mahana in the mirror today, eyes heavy and sad with the lies she was told.

I asked her when it ends. When will I feel loved and content, and not fight constantly with my body, is there an end to this pain? Bending over backwards to feel some sense of control, of completeness, that is just the next pound away. How can I reach it?

It depends on you. Not Tama. Not anyone else. No one person can save you. This is ultimately me and Christ and God.

And I’m sure if Jesus was there in person he would have politely explained to my Samoan that I’m beautiful, no matter my size, and my heart is priceless. And also that anyone who wants to get into heaven should treat God’s daughters *mindfully*. But I think next time I’ll just have to say it for Him.

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