Wednesday, February 9, 2011

body image {part1}

body image is a struggle for everyone.

but for those of us with eating disorders, body image and the struggles that accompany are magnified a million times in every direction.

when what we see is good, what we see is really good, and consequently, so is everything about us and our day and our lives; when what we see is bad, it's excruciating, and everything about everything follows suit.

i haven't any numerical or real evidence of this outside of my own experience, but i firmly believe that body image distortions are one of the top reasons that recovery rates from eating disorders are not higher than they are. many of the times that i attempted to recover in the past, it was the sheer excruciation of hating my body that drove me back into my disorder. the searing, exasperating pain was simply not worth it.

when i first went into recovery, it was almost physically painful to look at myself in the mirror. i saw huge, monstrous shoulders on either side of an expansive chest with oversized arms and a ballon-like face.

on terrible days, the above upper half sat atop a pair of thundering thighs. i remember walking to class one day last spring, imagining the pavement crumbling beneath each of my steps.

i sucked in heavy, shaky breaths as i walked, biting my lips and scrunching my nose in attempt to squelch the flow of tears that welled behind my eyes.

i approached the psychology building and took straight, zombie-like steps towards my classroom door. i got there and i reached for the door knob, but as soon as i started inside, an uncontrollable sob burst forth and i made sure to disappear before anyone could see.

i somehow ended up in a courtyard behind the building. i dropped into a flower bed, curled up against the brick behind me and allowed the sobs to take over me. i hunched over my notebook and shook, scratching tearful prayers for mercy across the wet pages. when i finally regained some composure, i walked back to my dorm, put on my shoes and ran myself numb on the trail across the street.

although i struggle with body image daily, every so often i find myself amidst an exasperating bout like the one above. it's like a bad dream in which i want nothing more than to run away, to escape, but i can't make my legs move. the pain, the self-loathing, the harsh downpour of lies (or are they real?) surround on all sides, arousing a desperate desire to escape a thorny maze of circular thoughts with no way out.

after about 10 months of recovery, though, things began to improve. i remember on halloween, getting ready to go out with my friends and thinking, "wow. i guess i kind of like my body tonight."

i expected things to tumble downhill from there, but they never really did. i had bad days here and there, but nothing that left me reeling, dazed and drained the way it had before.

i don't think the truth and i have reunited completely. in fact, in the next paragraph, you'll see that we have not. but since october or so, the gap between the truth and me has undoubtedly narrowed, and i've deeply enjoyed and rested upon the peace that's resulted.

i thought that i'd finally escaped the painstaking battles of body image described above, but from sunday evening through yesterday afternoon, i found myself taken over with self hatred once again. thanks to God's strength, and my wonderful support system and my own desire to recover, i'm feeling much better. and thanks to the battle itself, i've decided to attack body image head on in upcoming writings.

these next couple of posts will be a continuing discussion of body image, and how i'm journeying from enslavement, to mere survival, to true life in relation to the way i view my body.

have a beautiful day, love your beautiful self.



1 comment:

  1. It does ease.
    And I know that, and you are learning that.
    It is painful and stressful but as the mental and emotional is worked through, and our distortions lessen, as does what we see in the mirror.
    I think that what we see is most certainly mainly what is in our head.
    By that I mean that if we feel good about ourselves, and happy and as though we are achieving, that we have better self esteem, thus a better body image.

    So not only is it getting used to the new skin we find ourselves in, it is about changing our perceptions of ourselves.

    great post xxx