Hello everyone! My name is Crystal Knight and I am the Chief Editor for BeingAnSSBBW.com. With this being the first of what I hope will be many editorials and guest blogs, I thought I would introduce myself and share a bit of my story. Like Rebecca, my hope is that by sharing ourselves with the world, we can encourage others to live a life of self-acceptance, love, and confidence.

I am still somewhat new to the size acceptance community. My journey began when I met the man who would become my husband five years ago. My history with romantic relationships had left me convinced that I would spend my life alone despite only being in my thirties. Meeting him, however, changed my preconceived notions that no one would ever love my body…not in spite of my size, but because of it. After meeting and getting to know him, it was only a matter of time before I left my life in Texas and moved to the Midwest where he lived.

Despite having found love, I was having a terrible time making friends. As many of us know, the idea of meeting new people or going unfamiliar places can be very daunting. The fear of peoples’ reactions to my size (or if I did meet potential friends, having to explain why I couldn’t join them at the neighborhood coffee shop or wine bar because the seating was not fat friendly) filled me with so much anxiety that I just didn’t try. Then, a couple years ago I found Living Large Chicago (a size acceptance group based here in the Midwest) on MeetUp; I messaged one of the club owners and she added me to their Facebook group. Even though the community was very accepting, it still took me over a year before I went to my first event, however in July of 2017 I decided the time had come. I went to their midsummer bash and it changed my entire life. First, I had found a group of people that were completely accepting, non-judgmental, and encouraging. Second, I met Rebecca who would become one of my best friends and show me what it means to stop hiding in the shadows.

Even though I was part of this beautiful group of people, I still struggled with self-image and confidence. There were so many events I cancelled simply because my anxiety would get the better of me. I was building friendships and a support network, but the voice of my inner demons had a lifetime to be ingrained in my sense of self. What I needed was a reset… something so big that it made those voices insignificant. As it turns out, I got that reset; it only took having my soul shattered to achieve it.

Let me pause my story and beg for your indulgence a moment. I want you to picture the person who means the most to you. The person who knows you inside and out, knows all of your secrets, and who can sense your mood almost before you feel it. Would they take your call at 3am when you have a bad dream? Would they drop everything in a moment and come running if you needed them even a thousand miles away? Would they not just talk you off an emotional ledge, but risk everything to pull you off? Would you do that for them? I hope every single one of you have someone like that in your life; it is a precious gift and should never be taken for granted. I was blessed with just such a person. On the night of February 10, 2018 we had a long talk through text. It wasn’t anything extraordinary. It was just a normal conversation just like the millions of others we had over the course of a lifetime with one big exception. It was the last conversation we ever had. The next afternoon I got a call from her brother in law telling me she had died in her sleep.

I hope you will forgive me for not going into the details of what happened next. Anyone who has experienced significant loss has an idea and my grief is still very much a part of my daily life. Perhaps one day, when the wound is less raw, I will write about it but, for now I find that the wound is still too fresh. Besides, this is not a story about loss, but instead about discovery.

The thing about living through your worst fear is you find all those other little things you are so afraid of pale in comparison. Even more, I found that once I began the exhausting task of coming out the other side I wanted to live as full a life as possible, for both of us. I felt (and still feel) I owe her a life lived without fear or complacency. I started saying yes to opportunities that I would have normally have let pass me by. I have traveled and socialized more. I still wear baggy shirts and pants, but they are balanced with figure flattering dresses, crop tops, and bikinis. I put some of my walls down and started letting others get to know me, thereby strengthening my friendships. Last but not least, I am fulfilling a lifelong dream of being an editor and writer.

Mine is a story that is still being written. I have bad days where I struggle with depression, anxiety, and self-doubt. There are days I think the grief will kill me; there have been days I wish it would. I know these days are temporary, however, and the love I have for others and their love for me keep me going. I have a fire to have my life mean something. My hope is that each of you will find that fire in yourselves.

Thank you for allowing me to share a bit of myself with you. Until next time…

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