I’ve been stuck for a while now, in a place that I think a lot people can relate to-eating disorder or no eating disorder. I’m definitely moving forward with the mental aspect of my recovery, I’m slowly learning to like myself more, I’m letting myself enjoy life. But I’m still having some trouble with the physical aspect of it. And by that I mean the weight gain, the eating foods outside of my “safe list,” eating more calories than I allowed myself to in previous years, giving up “punishing” myself for eating by exercising or restricting. I haven’t worn jeans in months. Or been swimsuit shopping without having a meltdown. I’m eating a relatively normal amount of calories now, but I still feel so restricted and limited in what/when/how I am allowed to eat. And I KNOW all of these are things that people without eating disorders struggle with too.
The biggest hurdle for me to overcome is learning to trust my body. Learning to let it decide what is right for it and NOT letting my eating disorder decide that. I’m scared that if I eat what I want, I’ll just never quit eating. I’ll become enormous and society will label me with all of their derogatory labels for fat people. That I won’t be able to control myself at all. And from what I hear other people say, this is not really an “eating disorder fear” at all. So many other people are too afraid of their bodies to give them any trust. Years of having dieting, exercising just to look a certain way, plastic surgery, photoshop, wearing makeup, whatever thrown at us has taught people that we CAN’T trust our bodies. That all bodies are naturally wrong.
But I think I’m getting to a point now where I’m realizing that all these years I’ve been trusting the media, advertising, the public, etc. and they really have shown me no reason to. I’m starting to understand that I would much rather trust myself and my body than other people. And seriously, where did all those years of not trusting my body get me? Sure, I guess I technically met a lot of the beauty standards, but even then, I still thought I was ugly. So I couldn’t even see the results of all of my effort. There was always just something else to fix.
So I’m getting there. But it’s a process. And it isn’t going to happen overnight. I know I tell people all the time to just let their body do what it wants, but it really is harder than just “letting” that happen. I would love to just let myself love my body. But it takes a lot of effort. And I think it makes it even harder when it seems like the whole world is against you. I’m trying to feed my body what it wants, but at the same time I’m constantly bombarded with messages that tell me otherwise.
And a lot of the work is really actually motivating yourself. My treatment team calls it “faking it until you make it” and it is really helping me. I’ve been surrounding myself with body-positive images, reading books about self-love, bombarding my brain with the opposite messages from what it was previously bombarded with. I read this book when I was in a pretty bad place, and it pretty much did nothing for me then. I think probably because the book is targeted more at compulsive dieters than eating disordered individuals. But I think that in the motivated mindset where I’m actually willing to try loving my body, it could be a lot more helpful.
Body love has to start with someone. Just like you won’t wake up one day and love your body, the rest of the world won’t either. It has to be taught and practiced. But at the same time, people do have to take some responsibility and actually make the effort to change their self image. But I don’t think it’s a completely lost cause. I mean, some people love their bodies right? They couldn’t have all always been that way. And maybe a year ago I would have told you that I would never, ever love my body. But now I’m at least almost apathetic towards it. I don’t sit all day thinking only about how I hate my body. I can at least only have those thoughts a few times a day now. The hatred has significantly decreased. And right now, I don’t plan to stop until it goes away. I’m determined to actually like myself.