“Sometimes I think I’d actually like to be fat”. Yes, I found myself uttering these words the other night to my husband, as we were talking about progress and how far I have to go. Now, I know “fat” can be quite an ugly word. But fat can be beautiful. I know this may seem odd and a little crazy coming from the mouth of an underweight person, it might also seem insensitive. I have seen women who are probably overweight on a doctor’s weight chart, but seem perfectly comfortable in their skin. They are strong and beautiful. Some days I think that is what I want. To be a typical size woman in a body I can love. The truth is, women of all shapes and sizes have body image issues. I may see someone walking down the street and think they look so perfect and confident…but in reality it might be that they feel anything but perfection and confidence. As with a geode, sometimes what is inside is a lot more complex and jagged than the smooth outer rock.
I think that as I face recovery, I don’t know what it is that I want exactly. I’ve never weighed over 100 pounds. The thought of reaching that weight and going beyond it…is really scary. Sometimes I get caught up in anxiety about gaining weight. I start thinking about what it will feel like to weigh more than I ever have. What I will look like. How my clothes will fit. If I’ll have a big butt (I kind of hope I do, just so I can joke about it, dat booty doe). How it will feel to walk around in a “new” body. It’s frightening and yet a little exciting. I find myself wanting to be strong and kind to myself. To learn how to be my own caretaker. I also find myself looking at others around me, and wondering where I will fit in. I have always been the thinnest one. I have ways been the one that draws stares and comments. I don’t like it, but it’s become a bit of a part of my identity. I have to learn to lose that– to let it go. I look at my sisters and wonder if my body type will be like theirs. Will I stay tall and slim? Or did I ruin my metabolism and will I just gain and gain?
“If you had never met me, you wouldn’t have to worry. You wouldn’t have anyone telling you what you should weigh. If you just had a little more control, a little more resistance…you could have stopped yourself and stayed at a healthy weight all along.” whispers Ed.
Oh, shut up, Ed! I already hit my limit of self-control. I resisted food for you for ages, and where did it get me? Don’t tell me what I could have or should have done. I know how you operate. You are never satisfied. It’s always one step further with you, you’re always telling me to go a little bit further, to break the rules for you one more time. No. This time I break the rules for ME.
I have a long way to go in general, but I know that after all of the food is eaten and all of the milk is drunk, I still have to deal with how I feel. So far I am doing all right taking it day by day. But the clothes I have are ones I have fit into for a long time. I have some jeans that I have been able to fit into for almost 9 years. Someday I won’t, and I will have to come to terms with that. I know I will be able to, but it is going to be difficult. I wore a pair of jeans the other day that I have always had to use a belt to hold up. Given I was wearing thermal leggings underneath, but I didn’t have to wear a belt to keep them up. It was a little bit of an anxious moment for me, and I almost decided to wear a belt simply to allay my feelings…but I didn’t. And I found that I like being able to wear jeans without a belt all the time. It’s weird to think that I kind of have this opportunity to make my body what I want it to be. I was telling my husband the other night that I never wanted to be this thin. It’s true, I didn’t set out on this journey thinking that in the end I would be unhealthy and diseased. Nope. Ed reassured me that he had the wheel, that nothing could possibly go wrong. And I believed him…until he began making decisions that I didn’t necessarily agree with or feel comfortable with.
I remember being so angry at first, when nurses and doctors at St. Luke’s would state that anorexia is all about control. I was naïve and didn’t think they knew what they were talking about, after all, they didn’t know me. But the reality is (at least for me) that it is so much about control. It is finding myself in a place where I don’t know where to turn, and deciding to take control. To restrict and see what happens. And then to keep holding on to that satisfying control and not give it up. It is so much about trust, also. What did that person put in my food? Was it made “right”? What if they used butter? Is this milk really 2%, or is it whole? Trust and control. Hand in hand. I’m trying to learn how to apply less control and more trust, but it will be a long road. I think I’m up for it though.