Something interesting happened to me tonight.
I was standing in front of our washer and dryer, folding laundry, when I picked up a black Baltimore Orioles t-shirt I’d purchased recently. I smiled at the #10 on the back, happy to see JONES written across the top in arching orange letters. I remember when Adam Jones first came to Baltimore, back in 2008. I was fifteen years old. I was a sophomore in high school, going through one of the roughest years of my life emotionally. A lot was going on internally, and baseball was always a wonderful comfort to me. We were an Orioles family, through and through.
That was the first year I called myself fat.
I spent the next few years trying to work out, trying to hide myself in baggy clothes, trying not to eat. I was terrified of the scale. I was terrified of standing out from my friends due to weight. I was afraid of someone catching on, and calling me fat. I was depressed, I was frustrated, and I was hungry.
I never gave myself credit for being a nice person, for listening to others, for being myself. I never tried to tell myself I was pretty, or awesome, or funny. I slept a lot, I hid myself, I hurt myself. I wasted what should’ve been the best years of my life on an image that only I was upset with. Nobody ever called me fat. No one ever shunned me for my weight. They only asked if I was okay.
I’ve spent the last 9 years that way, hiding in clothes a size too big. 9 years of exercise failure, for the simple fact that I wasn’t eating enough to give me the strength to push through a workout. I’d say I didn’t need to eat, that I’d only gain weight if I ate.
I guess I had this image in my head I swore was reality, and I bought into it.
You know what happens, when you hide from the camera? You end up with absolutely no pictures of yourself laughing, or smiling, or enjoying life. And it reflects how you truly lived. I rarely smiled, or laughed, or enjoyed anything. I have maybe 5 pictures tops of the last 9 years where I can look at myself and not hate myself. That includes my wedding photos. And that’s a huge improvement, it used to be just one or two.
I realized, as I held up that women’s 2xl MLB t-shirt, that it hugged my sides in ways I didn’t like. It showed the world the outline of my stomach, and that has always terrified me. I hated that shirt. I couldn’t blame the way women’s shirts are cut, or the MLB shop. I could only blame me.
I hated that shirt.
But I loved Adam Jones.
I began to wonder why it mattered. This coming Saturday night, I’ll be sitting in front of the Crawford Box in Minute Maid Park, watching the Orioles take on the Houston Astros. Because my husband loves me. Because he loves baseball as much as I do. Because a Braves fan and an Orioles fan fell in love, and live three hours from a team that plays them both.
Do you know what the max capacity is for Minute Maid Park? 41,676. 40,000+ seats. 40,000+ folks of all different walks of life, drinking beer and eating hot dogs, enjoying the buzz of an evening of baseball, living every single pitch, loving every single moment. They don’t care what I’m wearing. They don’t care what anybody is wearing. They care about baseball, just like I do.
I overthink things, sometimes, but I think for the first time in a long time I’m onto something here. Maybe if I spent more time living in the moment, forgetting just ONCE about my body image, I’d have a good time.
Easier said than done.
But I’ve got a new Orioles hat I love, a once in a lifetime opportunity to sleep in a hotel right across the street from the ballpark, and TWO games to see. Saturday and Sunday. I’m so lucky!
And all I care about is a silly t-shirt.
If Adam Jones can deal with heckling fans in Boston, surely I can overcome my own insecurities and watch one of my heroes play ball in Houston. Surely I’ll get there and realize I was an idiot for being so worried. Surely, I understand that far worse things could actually happen to me in life. I have so many things to be grateful for, to embrace, to love about myself. I need to spend less time hating, and more time loving. If I loved myself, I know I could tackle just about anything. I know I could break through my shell and become a healthier, happier person.
Easier said than done, but I’m working on it.
So this weekend, I’m going to take pictures of the ballpark, because that’s something I love. I’m going to take pictures of my husband, because that’s someone I love. And I’m going to take some pictures of myself, because I am someone I love.
And I’m going to watch the games, because I absolutely love baseball.
5 years ago at Turner Field, I watched Chipper Jones play against the New York Mets. His last season, his name spoken in my household for ages. I was in awe. And my boyfriend took my hand, smiled, and said, “That’s one of my heroes.” That game meant everything to him.
And I think this weekend, as I open a new chapter in my life, as I embark on a quest for self confidence, I think I’ll never forget the outcome. I hope I can look back and smile, the way my husband smiles when he talks about that time at Turner Field.
I wish I could tell Adam Jones how much a moment in front of the dryer, looking at a shirt with his name on it, really changed me. But that would be crazy.
He’s got more important things to do, like win a baseball game tomorrow.
Still, I wish he knew he was one of my heroes.