Body Image is a bitch.
It’s so hard not to look back on old pictures of myself and not think, “I THOUGHT I WAS FAT?!” and then shortly after, “If I was fat then, what am I now?” It’s crazy to me how much a mental illness can have the power to distort my point of view. I go back to old pictures and try to look to where all my “problem areas” used to be but everywhere I used to see a little extra skin, just wasn’t there anymore.
And then it’s hard looking at myself today and not noticing the clear differences in the two. It’s even harder telling myself that I’m happy with the skin that I’m in. It feels like a downright lie. I have been told, that while in eating disorder recovery, your body image is the last of your obstacles to go. Well, everyone was right. Although, I’ve come a long way from where I started this is the last battle that I am still fighting. It’s hard for anyone to be completely comfortable in their skin, so I know it’s never going to be easy, and I may never fully succeed. However, that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop trying.
I guess I can say I already have the upper hand because I can see just how sick I was. Looking at pictures of my old self, I have a clear vision and can now see myself for what I really was; a beautiful girl who hated herself. Although my body may have been more aesthetically pleasing, I was not happy. I put on a front to make people believe that I was when I actually felt the opposite. I had so much self-hate and loathing toward myself, it makes me sick to think of the words I used to describe myself. I was my own bully, I stabbed myself in the back, and mentally cut myself down every day. I hated myself so much, it consumed my every thought. It got to a point where I postponed taking showers because I hated the sight of myself naked. I would close my eyes and rush out immediately because I hated my body so much. I wouldn’t look in mirrors. I hated taking pictures, I would edit the shit out of them to transform my body something or someone who I thought I was supposed to be. I would starve myself in anticipation of a big event where I knew I’d have to reveal skin. I convinced myself that I was only worthy of love if I looked a certain way.
It took a lot to change this way of thinking. Recovery wasn’t a night and day switch, just like my sickness didn’t begin over night. I didn’t suddenly wake up one morning and decide I would have an eating disorder. It was something that took its time to settle in. Disguising itself in different forms, making it almost impossible to identify. So you can imagine, recovery took its time to settle in as well. I struggled a lot, and I’m still struggling. I feel as if my sanity is hanging from a thread ready to snap at any moment. Some days I feel stronger than others. Some days, I’m able to see that love is so much more than an image. Love is laughter and hugs in the airport after time apart. Love is three-hour phone calls, breakfast in bed, it’s home. Love is showing up and being there for someone when they need you. The only size that matters in love, is the size of your heart, and how much you are willing to give it up for someone else.
I decided that in order to recover, I have to mourn my old body and celebrate the current one. I have to recognize how unhappy I was with the past body that I now wish I had. It’s like an oxymoron. It’s a bit confusing changing the sole focus of my life. My weight obsessively controlled my thoughts. Now, it feels as if I’m left stranded with no source of identity; but that’s the beautiful part of recovery I guess, rediscovering how you fit into this life. My sole purpose on this earth isn’t actually to be as skinny and aesthetically pleasing as possible, for I actually have a bigger responsibility in this world. Amazing.
This battle isn’t near over, but I am stronger now. I’m getting there. I found that surrounding myself with the people that love me can help me learn to love myself. For they are the ones that see me beyond how I see myself, they see me for more than what my eating disorder is. I don’t know where I would be without them.
I’m learning to love myself for who I am as a person. I know I’m not perfect on the inside either, I still make a crap ton of mistakes. I’m still working on forgiving myself for some of them. It’s all a process; I’m learning and growing, taking my victories where I can.
I’ve learned that, we are so much more than what a mirror has the capability to show. Fuck the mirror. Our body doesn’t define us. Loving ourselves and others is the real testament to beauty.