The truce between me and my body

I hate my body, but over time we’ve learned to coexist without undermining one another. Our truce is built around trying to maintain stability — which is ultimately good for my body and good for me.

In college and for several years afterwards, hating my body more or less took over my life. Often my intestines stopped working, all kinds of disgusting situations prevented me from leaving my room, and I had a tendency to pass out here and there, but that wasn’t even the worst of it. I frequently came to that standstill where I’m doing nothing but count the hours, thinking if time is passing and I’m not eating I’m making some kind of progress. There was no moment unaffected by starvation, temptation, shame about over-indulgences big and small, determination to do better, and every possible form of physical and psychological exhaustion.

Getting over an eating disorder is typically a long process that involves lapses and relapses and so on. It isn’t something you can just quit, and since you have to eat to survive there is no “abstinence” option, you can’t avoid the triggers. Like many people, I gained weight when forced to, but even after my weight was high enough that I was no longer being monitored for danger, the larger problem persisted. Hating my body — and thinking I MUST do more to change it – was always at the forefront of my mind.

The way I took my life back was essentially by accepting defeat. At my lowest weight I hated my body and felt I really needed to lose bulk around the middle. Ten, twenty, thirty, forty pounds heavier I felt the same way. But here’s the thing: my body hatred isn’t actually any worse now at a “normal range” weight than it was at a dangerously low one. I’ve just learned from experience that I’m never going to have a body I’d be happy with and that trying will only get me a body that stops working. Determined to at least have a minimally functional body, I went many years avoiding scales, full-length mirrors, and looking down in the shower. I’ve also avoided having to spend time with people who talk about weight/food in ways that would upset me and potentially disrupt my life — even though this meant eating alone a lot and having almost no female friends. I had things to do and needed the eating-disordered tyrant inside to be quiet.

More recently I’ve been trying to make room for workouts in my life, and the struggle is how to pursue being healthier without re-awakening that force that would want me to commit to losing bulk around the middle, etc. I’m not about to pick any fights with my body, since I’m not going to win them, and the two of us are stuck with one another for the long haul.

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