A number I’ll never forget.
Mid-December 2016, I weighed myself and the scale read 108 pounds.
I’ve always had a slim build. It’s extremely difficult for me to gain and maintain weight, and while this may seem like a blessing to some, it is one of the few characteristics about myself I have a hard time accepting. Genetics partially contribute (my dad is the real-life Stick Man), but mostly it’s due to my high metabolism, caused by a chronic gastrointestinal inflammatory disorder I was diagnosed with at 18. But even with these two factors, I haven’t weighed less than 115 pounds in years.
That preface was important, I promise. No, it wasn’t just to point out that I can eat whatever I want in copious amounts and not gain a pound. I swear.
The thing about ulcerative colitis (the condition I mentioned previously) is that its symptoms are similar to many other common conditions. Once or twice a year, I’ll have flare-ups that cause me to be symptomatic; otherwise, the condition is generally well-controlled.
I came back from a cruise towards the end of November, was generally fine for about a week, and then got violently ill. During the first few days of that illness, I wasn’t sure whether it was just my UC flaring or something worse. Unfortunately, it was the latter, and after one week of being bedridden, my mother forced me to go to the hospital. I was admitted, then discharged the next day and advised to stay home for another two weeks.
Oh, and in the midst of this, I lost the love of my life. No one passed away, but I was left behind for reasons I don’t understand. I can’t say I was angry or bitter, though that might make me look a little less fragile than I felt.
I reached an unprecedented level of sad. I mean the kind of sadness that consumes your entire being.
I’m the strong one in my family. I’m the one who lends the shoulder, wipes the tears, pats the back, and always has a reassuring word. Yet there I was, only able to eat a half can of soup and a few crackers every day, feeling like I was physically, mentally, and emotionally wasting away.
And I was.
108 pounds of shame. 108 pounds of weakness. 108 pounds of inadequacy.
How did I get here? Me, of all people. The cool, laid-back, calm one.
I decided on New Year’s Eve that I could not start 2017 the same way that I ended 2016. Some things I have no control over—those I’ve given to the Universe to work out. Other things, especially my body, mind, and spirit, I have full control over. I made some adjustments to my diet and exercise routine, started meditating again, and made a conscious decision to do what I could to change my situation. In the first week of January 2017, I set a goal to reach 120 pounds.
Today I’m 119.6 pounds. 119.6 pounds of courage. 119.6 pounds of determination. 119.6 pounds of self-love.
Without darkness, I never would’ve discovered the infinite power of my light.
There is no shame in brokenness, only beauty.
My name is Chiree Graham and I am a 27-year-old writer from Woodbridge, Virginia. I believe in the infinite power of words to heal, inspire, and, most importantly, connect. As a quiet and quite frankly awkward little girl, I found my voice in journaling. It wasn’t until I entered pharmacy school that I started publicly sharing my introspective life experiences via blogging. While it was therapy for me, it became clear that exposing such raw vulnerability served as inspiration for others. As I’ve grown into a more aware (and still slightly awkward) woman, my mission has transformed into helping others find their creative voice through discovering the beauty in vulnerability.