In 2014, I had gastric bypass and my life radically changed. Most of my excess weight lifted within a year. The changes were drastic. Being alive was unbelievably easier. I could breathe, but I was also devastated to learn I had no idea who I was.
Fear quickly filled the space where my body had been. My walls were gone. I did not know how to respond to others. I often reacted as if I were still in a bigger body. I felt unsafe and angry.
For years, I believed I had to apologize for having been big, the space I occupied, and for the food I ate. I wanted to disappear. I leveraged my past as reason why I should not trust others or myself. I was afraid I would lose control, lose my breath, and lose my life.
It is difficult for me to believe these are my self-portraits. They feel distant and unrecognizable. Depersonalization is a defense I use to avoid pain but avoiding pain forces me to keep it. It is not a key to good living.
I started Self-Untitled to help alleviate shame I had for my body, build connection, and humanize myself to others. That is still true, but now, self-portraiture is also a way I process life. It is a practice of self-acceptance; a daily conversation and reminder that I deserve to take up space.
I do not need to apologize for my existence.