It’s my last day unemployed in South Dakota as this weekend will be chaotic with family time and packing. It was always my plan to have at least one day where I laid in bed and watched movies but by 8:30 a.m. my heart craved something more satisfying, so I decided to start with yoga.
I pulled on a white camisole and tights, throwing my hair back into a low messy bun. As I walked past the mirror, I turned to the side. I can never be in front of a mirror and not judge myself. Will it be a good day or will it be a bad one? That reflection holds it all.
Today is a good one. I smiled at my body and then unrolled the yoga mat to gift it.
It occurred to me, during down dogs, that it is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. It’s been five and half years since my last relapse, but it is still something that I carry, like lip gloss in my purse.
It’s there every meal when I size up what everyone else ordered and how much they ate.
It’s there when I try on clothes and my size barely comes up over my thighs.
It’s there when the good looking man hits on my friend and only glances in my direction.
It’s there when I wonder if I could truly ever love myself because it’s so damn hard just to love my body let alone all of my other disappointing characteristics.
The last two years brought out some really difficult emotions towards my body and I came very close to relapsing. There were entire weekends when I zoned out thinking only about how much fatter I was than everyone else and plotted diet revenge. I skipped get togethers and meals with friends just so I didn’t have to eat in front of them. I obsessed over my weight and cried myself to sleep because I wasn’t losing weight but more so because this demon would never die.
It scared me so much that this hatred and self loathing were still present. I thought that I was better, I thought that I had accepted myself but I was further from self love than I had ever been.
I tried, though. The ultra helped but then the demons came back stronger. I was running so much but not losing the weight like I had wanted. I had lost some weight, but everyone else was still just so much thinner and it drove me crazy. I mediated, wrote long love letters to myself, sought reassurance in other’s compliments, but I could never believe that I was good enough because my body wasn’t.
It’s probably accurate to say that I deferred all that I was going through during my service to my weight. Loneliness, failure, incompetence are much easier to handle in the context of a number on a scale.
There wasn’t some magical day or event where everything changed. I did throw out the measuring tap that I used to gauge my worth and tried to eat only foods that empowered me. I started to feel better about myself and, consequently, tried to only focus on the good things. At my COS medical appointments, I asked the nurse to weigh me backwards and to write down the number without my knowing. My greatness in this world is not in a number, I tried to declare.
Coming home, I let myself indulge without guilt. I also ran a lot in that first month and simply enjoyed being home. I’ve been curious about the number on the scale, but refuse to step on it. I am happier not knowing. There are times when I do feel ugly and fat (I nearly had a breakdown in a dressing room a few weeks ago) but I’ve learned that that is part of me. I will struggle with feelings towards my body, even if strongly and for long stretches of time, like two years, but I also have to celebrate how far I’ve come. I can stop when I am full. One ill fitting pair of jeans won’t ruin my life, I know. I can talk down the demons who pressure me into old habits and patterns of thinking.
I’ve written a lot about my eating disorder and I will probably always. It doesn’t define me, but it is a part of me. And I want others to know that they aren’t alone. Our society constantly tells us how imperfect we are and we need more people to say that imperfect is perfect. I may not be able to love my body entirely, but that is fine. Love is never always whole and we set ourselves up for failure if we try to achieve undying love.
Yet, I respect my body. I admire its unending beautiful movements and how it won’t give up on me even when I give up on it. As I continue to grow the love for myself, I find greatness in this body and I cherish it. It’s not perfect but I don’t want it to be.