Thursday, April 14, 2011

more body image: passing the test and getting somewhere.

i ended my last post with the thought i may have embarked upon a "new beginning" with body image. it was a culminating sentence that could have come across as a nice and heartwarming way to close things. but if you know me, you know that nice and heartwarming are not enough to merit a sentence into my blog. in other words you can read about the progression of "new beginning" below.

being a really bad driver is something for which i'm known.

although i've never had a wreck, i've hit 13 stationary objects, gotten five (or six?) tickets and have probably seen a world-record number of middle fingers.

i think it may have started in 9th grade when i took my written drivers test. i didn't know what could possibly be on it that i wouldn't have already learned either through common sense or riding up front with my mom, so i figured that studying would be, "oh my gah like totally pointless".

the morning of the test, i put on a graphic-tee with a picture of snoopy on the front, pulled my hair into a mass of a bun on top of my head and admired the way i looked in sunglasses in the rearview mirror of my mother's minivan the entire way to the testing site.

i obliviously made my way through the forms and lines to a smelly, white-walled room full of faux-wood desks. i sat down and rolled my golf pencil up and down the table top until someone handed me a booklet full of questions and a scantron.

20 minutes later, i stormed out to the car with a twisted, whimpering face. i had failed the test and like...completely ruined my life.

two weeks later, the same thing happened again.
a month later, it happened a third time.

i felt like an idiot. especially when i had to tell my mom. whatever lesson she might have hoped to teach me was utterly invalidated by the fact that she couldn't keep herself from laughing.

finally, on my fourth try, i caught on to the fact that me passing the drivers test might require something more than showing up and letting my sheer, natural brilliance prove its superiority over the test. i got out the ugly book with figurines of a family and car on the front and i read it and made flash cards from it and went through them until i never wanted to see them again.

i went back, i took the test, i made a 96%.

although its quite entertaining to look back on my 14-year-old self and laugh, i can't help but see some of her in myself today. in the same way that i tried my broken strategy over and again expecting different test results each time, i now continuously go to the mirror hoping that it will show me a girl i like, proving my thoughts about myself wrong. but it never does.

looking back, i realize that the reason i kept on refusing to prepare for the drivers test was rooted in pride. i am not, nor have i ever been, a lazy or uncaring person. somewhere in my maladaptive thoughts was the idea that i shouldn't have needed to study to pass the test. I wanted to be the girl who just walked in and got it. and i've approached the mirror the same way.

i've been told countless times to talk myself through bad body image. my counselor always asks me what i tell myself when i'm looking in the mirror.

until now, my answer has always been, "nothing". i didn't want to tell myself anything because i wanted the mirror to prove to me that i'm not fat, that i'm shape, that i haven't let myself go.

although it looks and sounds like pride and stubbornness, what it really is is insecurity. it is a need for someone or something else to reach out and extend validation outside of any effort of my own to obtain it. if i don't look fat, i figure, then i shouldn't have to tell myself i don't.

i didn't want to have to prepare for the drivers test, i just wanted my 14-year-old awesomeness to see me through to my permit. now 8 years later, i don't want to have to talk myself into a successful look in the mirror, i just want my body to stand there and let its reflection convince me i have nothing to worry about.

but every time, i leave the mirror the same way i left the driver's test- with dragging feet (sans pink converse nowadays) and a hanging head and a feeling of hopelessness.

it's funny to me that eating disorders are all about control, but the moment we start trying to fight them we find ourselves feeling completely helpless. i'm quitting the helplessness thing, i think. and the same way i {finally} decided to hang it up and prepare for my drivers test, i'm going to start preparing my mind for the mirror.

i am healthy, i'll tell myself, and i have joy. i don't under eat and i don't over eat. i may not be a twig any longer but that's not what God made my body to be. I am an individual with a unique body and build, and i look like myself and no one else, so there really is nothing to which i or anyone else can compare. and most importantly, what is in this mirror doesn't matter anyway.

it was admitting that i needed to prepare for the drivers test that ultimately got me behind the wheel and going places. for body image, i'm hoping that preparing my mind for the mirror will do the same.



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