Three Months, since intensive outpatient treatment. I remember how scared and unsure I was about “Graduating” from IOP, yet a surge of excitement tingled throughout my body.
I couldn’t wait to implement the new tools and knowledge I had gained while completely surrendering myself to some of the hardest months of my life thus far.
“The last thing to go will be the body image/self acceptance piece.” My therapist said while trying to make eye contact with me, I was clearly trying to avoid it.
Self acceptance? at any size? Be comfortable with whatever stage my body may be at? at any given point of time along this recovery road?
I felt a sense of panic wash over me, I heard a faint whisper in the back of my mind.
“I can help you get there.” I shivered .
It was Him. Ed making sure to not miss a perfect opportunity to pounce on my slightest bit of self-doubt.
I shook it off.
I can dig this self acceptance thing.
Then I started thinking, I don’t believe there was ever a time in which I was self-aware and didn’t fully hate my body. As soon as I became a self aware individual which happened at something like age 5 or 6. I was fully aware that I had a different body and I hated it.
I wanted nothing more than to change my body. I was a tv show, Movie marathon child of the late 80’s early 90’s I devoured the pop culture media. I wanted to be Jennifer Connelly on The Labyrinth in fact I thought I was her and never answered to my given name but only by the name of the character she portrayed on the movie “Sarah” I always tried to be someone else because it felt better.
I avoided having to truly accept myself because I was constantly in the mentality of trying to change myself. I used food and exercise as a barrier from knowing myself. I told myself everyday that when I eventually got there, to that place of “perfect” I could then ease up and possibly begin to unpack and get to know myself.
Well that day never came, and it continually got further and further out of reach, I kept trying to run from that little girl I hated so much, she was fat she was dumb she was nothing. No one wanted her , no one loved her, no one accepted her so why should I?
After treatment she became visible to me I no longer had my blinders on. There she was the girl I had been trying not to be for years. I wanted to sprint away from her , but rather than doing so I decided now was the time more than ever to start unpacking and get to know her.
My cell rang on a Wednesday morning, I didn’t know the number so I let it go to voice mail. It was one of my therapist in treatment, she was reaching out to me to invite me to a body positive yoga group. One hour of yoga then a half hour of process. I was hesitant at first I hated how Yoga forced me to be present in my body, the body I hated and was constantly trying to change and not accept.
I agreed. My third week in I noticed a change in my mind-set, When asked at the end what my focus was on. I was hesitant to share because like most people being vulnerable was not something that I excelled in.
I went for it anyway
“I noticed that I kept with the mantra that I am loved. I kept reminding myself to accept my body and celebrate it for all the things it does for me, the way it is able to move and allow me to be here in this moment.”
I was sure no one was going to pipe in and I was going to be stuck with that always awkward lingering silence that comes right after you spell your guts in therapy. (I hate that) But to my surprise someone spoke up, an older woman in the group early 50’s would be my guess. She started by saying “Now, forgive me but I’m going to cry because I always cry when something is important to me, but when you said that ..”
She looked over at me and wiped a tear. “When you said that it reminded me of those Facebook memory posts that pop up now, well a picture popped up on my timeline the other day a picture of me when I looked much different from what I do now, I was in the deepest darkest part of my eating disorder and it dawned on me, I will never be that person again and I need to accept that and mourn her and move on. I had no life all I lived for was to change my body, everyday obsessive with my exercise, my food all over my waking thoughts went into this. When I saw that photo of me I realized I don’t ever want to go back to being her again. I need to accept who I am and let go of trying to obtain a perfect body, It will never be perfect to me if I can’t ever accept it for what it is in this present moment.”
I couldn’t help but to shed a tear out of compassion and understand for knowing and feeling exactly what she was telling me. She was so right.
We have to let go of the past, hanging on to it only hurts us. We have to be present in the present and accepting of who we are now. Not who we were then. Taking note that our bodies are ever-changing, we can’t hold on to an ideal of how we want our bodies to stay because that is unrealistic. We aren’t made of plastic, our bodies develop different bumps, bruises, scratches scars along the way.
It occurred to me that we don’t ever reach the nirvana of fully accepting ourselves either, It’s not like we put in our time and eventually we are rewarded indefinitely . It’s never-ending work, every day, every week, every year …..Every Age. Because we are always changing and so are our bodies.