Status: Complete.

I Will Struggle, but Never Sink

The Bodybuilder

My family laughs around the table. They swap bites and funny stories. Their plates are piled high with all the high calorie junk they enjoy.

Every now and then, they stare at my plate in disgust. They don't even try to hide it. Snide remarks soon follow. I keep the fake smile plastered through it all.

It isn't the first time I've been the butt of their jokes. I know it won't be the last. They don't mean to hurt me. They just don't understand my way of living.

Two weeks out from my first competition. The muscles in my arm ripple as I bring a fork full of chicken to my mouth. The blandness is almost overwhelming, but I force myself to eat it. Even when they offer me the tantalizing Mexican dish. Shoving it under my nose and taunting me with it. Daring me to give in.

To give in now would be failure, and that's not an option. I picture the small, skinny as a rail girl I once was. Back when I took to heart every passive comment about my nonexistent love handles.

Now, their statements are directed towards my "manly" physique. I've learned to ignore it, and have found other ways to cope. None of which involve shoving my finger down my throat.

I finish my meal in silence, then flip my wrist to check the time. Twenty minutes until my second session of the day. My trainer will be waiting on me. Most nights I trudge to the gym, quietly cursing myself for signing up for this. Tonight, it's a welcomed relief.

For as much as I struggle most days, the gym has become my sanctuary. It's where I've learned to accept myself, and that it's okay to not please everyone.

No, their opinions are no longer what drive me. Somewhere along my near death experience and journey of finding myself, I learned what it meant to truly love who you are.