“What’s the matter?” I asked. “You’re acting really strange lately.”
I reached out for his hand as we sat in a busy coffee shop. He had been very quiet lately and I couldn’t figure out what was up.
Just as my fingers brushed against the palm of his hand, he immediately pulled away and said the words that I could never forget.
The words that almost felt like a thousand needles piercing my heart.
“I don’t think we should continue seeing each other anymore,” he said.
“I want to break up.”
Two years down the drain. Just like that.
I remember the carefree times when we were still in high school. He was one of my girlfriends’ older brother and I had a huge crush on him.
When he asked me out, I was elated and I felt like the luckiest girl in the world.
Although I had bagged one of the cutest boys in school, I was very insecure and was constantly jealous of the girls he interacted with.
To me, every other girl looked prettier and more accomplished than I was. To me, it was only a matter of time until he discovered that I wasn’t good enough.
When he no longer wanted to be with me anymore, It actually came as no surprise.
After he uttered those words, I quietly nodded, got up, and went home. I went up to my room, fell on my bed, and cried for days, all the while trying to figure out what I did wrong.
Finally, I came to the conclusion: I was too overweight, and he didn’t want me anymore.
Still Friends on Social Media
Despite the breakup, we were still friends on social media. I know, because I would stalk him constantly.
I could never have the heart to unfriend him, let alone block him, and … perhaps he felt the same way?
While stalking him, I learned that he had a lot of female friends on Facebook. They were all pretty and slim, and a far cry from what I was.
Maybe this is what he’s looking for in a partner; a young, pretty girl with slender hips, tiny waist and long, swishy hair that could make one swoon.
It was then and there I decided that I was gonna become one of those girls — by starving myself.
If he saw me losing weight on social media, perhaps he would take me back and we’ll be happy together once again.
I first started out by skipping meals such as breakfast.
Then, I also started skipping dinner.
After a while, my everyday meals were reduced to only two eggs and some bananas, in case I felt extremely hungry.
Within the next few days, I dropped a few kilos. Encouraged by the results, I thought I could eat even less.
What’s a few calories less? I could go a little longer without food.
Going out with friends and family was tough. In our Malaysian culture, we’re all about eating, which was the complete opposite of what I was going for.
Every time they insist I eat with them, I would feel nothing but disgust and shame, thinking I didn’t deserve to eat any of the good food laid out as I was still too fat.
I would force myself to eat something, to avoid the questions, then cry myself to sleep at night.
He Still Didn’t Want Me
It has been a few months since I started my ‘diet’ and by then, I was nearly skin and bones.
Every time my stomach grumbled, I ignored her pleas to nurture the body for fear that all my work will be undone.
Gastric became an everyday friend, with sharp pains piercing my guts and the feeling of being faint soon felt normal.
It’ll be worth it, I tell myself. Soon, he’ll take notice and fall in love with me again. I’m sure he will. I’m sure.
As the weight fell off, I began posting my ‘results’ on social media. As I hit the ‘Publish’ button, I felt a sense of accomplishment.
I did it. I finally made it.
I was skinny, maybe even skinnier than the other girls he liked.
Surely he would notice me again.
As the comments flooded in, some congratulated me, telling me: “You look great!”
But then, others have expressed their concerns, saying: “You’ve lost too much weight! You need help.”
I did not care about what anybody thought. All I cared about was what he thought.
Yet, despite the many comments and reactions, the one and only person that mattered did not react at all.
I searched for his profile, hoping that perhaps he was busy and haven’t seen my pics yet.
I looked through our old chats, hoping that I could find him there.
His profile was blank — he had blocked me.
My whole world crumbled and I felt my heart break all over again.
All this time, I had allowed myself to abuse my body for someone who didn’t care.
It was then that I realized how stupid I was and how vain my attempts were at pursuing something so shallow.
I deleted all my silly posts and all my pictures.
In the end, I couldn’t make him fall in love with me, but at that moment I realised — I could still learn to love myself.
So that’s what I did.
Falling In Love Again
Slowly, I began eating again, and even started learning healthy ways on how I could improve my diet.
At first, when the weight started coming in again, I would panic, worrying that I was gonna be fat again.
But I kept reminding myself that I needed the weight, so I pushed on.
Then, I discovered Pilates on YouTube from a blogger, and I followed her exercises religiously.
I loved that her spirit is so positive and she has a community of followers of all shapes and sizes.
Through their encouragement and love, I began to learn to accept myself and be thankful for the body that I was given.
As I grew confident in myself, I started making changes – getting new clothes, having a manicure, getting my hair done.
I deserved a fresh new look. I felt healthy, happy, and beautiful.
I may have put on a few pounds since then, but when I look in the mirror, I still see a gorgeous girl who has come so far.
She glows from the inside and out, and most of all, I knew that she was enough and she didn’t need to be validated by anybody.
If I were to go back in time to meet my younger self, I’d tell her this:
Beauty is a state of mind.
Beautiful people have a positive mindset. They dress well and carry themselves in a different way. They’re confident and are generous in complimenting others where deserved.
It doesn’t matter what shape or size they are, but when you see a beautiful person, you can tell by their smile and confidence that glows inside and out.
Surround yourself with the right people.
Always surround yourself with positive people and stay FAR away from the ones who bring you down like how Najib avoids jail.
You are the average of the people you choose to be with. Choose wisely.
Change for yourself.
If you’re working on your self confidence, identify what’s in your control and how you can change certain aspects of your life which you’re unhappy about.
For example: Your partner broke up with you. You can’t get him/her back, but what else are you unhappy about your life?
If you’re a Chinese banana, you might want to master Mandarin.
If you’re in a crappy job, you can start searching for a better position.
Work on yourself and find other ways that could make you happy.
Most of all, do it for YOU and no one else.
Looking back at that horrible breakup, I’m thankful he did not take me back.
For if it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have found the self-esteem that I have now.
Honestly? It was the best breakup that ever happened to me.
For more stories like this, read: Why Changing My Weight Didn’t Fix My Self-Esteem — Loving Myself Did (Part 1) and Here Are 4 Malaysians Who Overcame Body Shaming. These Are Their Stories.