Since putting on weight, I seem to have separated me, from my body. It sits, over there; whilst I stay, over here; and, never the twain shall meet.
We weren’t this disconnected when I was hideously underweight. We may not have been friends but we were, at least, on speaking terms. Now we don’t acknowledge each other.
Up until the past week, I hadn’t been too concerned about the dislocation. I am, after all, far healthier then I’ve been before and nearly up to a normal BMI (which is a good thing); so, surely it was safer to stay away from something that might screw with my head –
And, anyway, I have always been adamant that eating disorders are about far more than how you look (which they are); and taken offense to the misplaced notion that they are driven by “vanity” (which they’re not); and, consequently, been quite vocal in my “please don’t assume that this is about my body, when really it’s about me” message –
Only isn’t my body part of me?
And is it ever really healthy to neatly box yourself up, regardless of the reasons?
As I have reached the conclusion that it is probably not; and admitted, albeit reluctantly, that my fixation with thinness did exist and could, just possibly, suggest that body image wasn’t irrelevant, I have decided a little probing is in order –
So, with the intention of saying hello to myself, I have knocked on the door of the adjoining room, and tentatively poked my head round the corner – only to recoil in horror, because I can’t quite handle what I see…
This is, perhaps, why we’ve stayed apart, and why I’ve kept my eyes, so firmly, at shoulder level for the past six months. My reaction might just explain why I have found myself, increasingly frequently, arriving at work with the stomach churning realisation that I could well have left the house in mismatching socks or an inside-out jumper, because I haven’t got round to looking in a mirror yet…
I have never been too hot on how I look.
This ‘finding Melissa’ process has, however, been all about doing the things that I didn’t want to do and exploring the feelings I’d rather leave behind closed doors; so, with a big deep breath, I am trying again – and introducing myself, to my body.
Unfortunately, I stumbled over saying “hello”, and my head begun, instead, with a question: “Is this how I should look?”
I obviously assume that there’s a template for how people should – and shouldn’t – look. I’m not exactly clear on what this is (which is worrying in itself); but I seem to subscribe to the idea that there’s a right – or wrong – way of looking, and it’s important to conform and fit in.
This prompted unexpected question number two: “What do other people see?”
Okay, so it’s not what I see that I’m concerned about; it’s how I look to the rest of the world. We’re back to the ‘ everyone else’s opinion is far more important than min e’ theme… This, of course, I can never know; however, given that I have a bit of a history of assuming that everyone’s thinking the worth, and never quite feeling that I match up, I can foresee a few problems with the concept of a socially acceptable – or unacceptable – body.
That’s a lot of pressure for anyone to place on their appearance –
So I start, slowly, with my toes, moving up to my ankles –
And, then the inadequacy comes sliding in (I will never look as I am meant to look), and the bitter, tear-swelling, unfairness starts to re-emerge (I will never look how I want to look) and the taunting voice in my head cranks up the volume (I will never be good enough); and, I can see, in a moment of clarity, why we’ve grown so apart –
And, whilst I’ve healed my body, my mind’s playing catch up.
So, there’s a little more work to do, evidently; because I may not be acting out my feelings, but they’re still lurking there, like poison –
And, I’m yet to move beyond my ankles; but, I know that it’s important to stay on talking terms with my body; because, once I’ve accepted myself on the inside, then it will be easier to make friends with the outside –
And I won’t need to ask whether I am looking the “right way” –