Surfacing After Silence

Life. After.

intermittent desires

is_it_too_late__by_juliadavis (

I love this picture, because it says a lot about how we see our own bodies, at least those of us who have struggled with eating disorders and body image dissatisfaction and distortions.  How many of us can look down at our own body and see what is truly and honestly there?

I know I want to be able to stand up and shout, “Me!” but that would be a lie.  I spent a good part of my adolescence and almost all of my adult life so far thinking certain things about my body–how it looked, how ‘big’ it was, how imperfect it was.  I had a list of things I could do to “fix” all my problems, be it using starvation or over-exercise.

While I don’t engage in those behaviors anymore, and while I know they never did actually “fix” anything but rather made things a hell of a lot worse, I know I still don’t have an accurate self-perception.  And in the past, people have accused me of not being recovered because of this.  But let’s get real.  A) I’m a female in a society that places an inordinate amount of importance on looks. B) I used to be an All-American athlete in college and for some time after college continued competing in road races.  C) I had an eating disorder for how long? D) It’d be great if the day I decided to get better I was given a pair of glasses that allowed me to see my body as it actually is instead of seeing it through all the various lenses of distortion I’d acquired over the years, but guess what?  There are no glasses that have that magical power.

No, I probably do not see my body the way everyone else sees it.  I’ve got a very subjective view with loads of history that tends to make my view a rather distorted one.  It’s still difficult for me to look down and say, “Oh yeah, I know this body.  It’s mine.”  Somedays it still feels like a foreign object, completely separate from me.  But I also know that I’ve come a hell of a long way in this area.  At least I recognize that I have distortions.  In the thick of the anorexia, I would never have admitted that.

Yes, I still tend to make certain parts of my body bigger than they actually are.  Sort of like the sticker on your side rearview mirror that says, “Warning: Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.”  I should have a sign saying, “Warning: the body in the mirror is smaller than you think.”

No, I do not think this means I still have an eating disorder.  I don’t alter my behaviors based on what I see in my reflection, and I now challenge any thoughts that pop into my head that are based on my size or shape.  I used to hide in huge baggy clothes in an effort to make sure no one saw my actual shape, but I refuse to do that anymore.  I wear what is comfortable.  You can see my skin, you can see the muscles in my legs, and the curves of my arms.

It’s taken me a long time to get to the place where I’m comfortable wearing a two-piece bathing suit.  And I love the freedom that comes with a wardrobe that fits rather than a wardrobe that hides.  I know I still have work to do; I know I must still challenge the distortions that pop into my head from time to time.  Yes, the distortions are distressing, depending on my baseline emotional status of the time.  And while I know I still have work to do in that area, I am just as confident in my recovery as ever.  Don’t let that make you think I’m satisfied with these distortions, because I’m not.  I have every plan of seeing each and every one of them smashed to bits, but I realize this will take time.  In the meantime, I refuse to let these distortions determine what I do or what I wear or how I feel.  I acknowledge them but I don’t give them power.

So yes, sometimes I do have an “intermittent desire to return to my old body.”  In the grand scheme of things, this body is still relatively new.  I’m getting used to it and I’m thankful for everything I can do because of it.  But as an ever-changing human being, I recognize room for growth and insight.  I don’t think that will ever change.


May 2, 2010 - Posted by | Body Image, Eating Disorders | , , , , , , , ,


  1. You should totally market “Warning: the body in the mirror is smaller than you think.” signs. 😛

    I can relate a lot to what you said. It’s difficult to wear clothes that actually fit, not necessarily because of showing my body, but because it reminds me of my body. The fabric touching me makes me feel bigger.

    Body image is always the last thing to fix itself. And that sucks. But I guess it’s no surprise because of what we see every day.

    Comment by Jen | May 2, 2010 | Reply

  2. “I acknowledge them but I don’t give them power.”

    Good for you! That takes a lot of strength on your part.

    “I know I must still challenge the distortions that pop into my head from time to time.”

    I have a different outlook, though, in terms of fighting body image distortions. I guess I just allow myself to have them, in a non-judgemental way. Instead of labeling those thoughts as “negative body image”, I try to see them for what they are – just thoughts – I just try to watch them come and go, as if they were leaves floating down a river. Instead of jumping in and trying to tear apart every leaf, I just watch them come and go and continue walking towards the direction I choose and value. I still have a long way to go, and I believe that different things work for different people – and if fighting every distortion works for you, then great! And you definitely know what works for you, considering how impressive your recovery is. I just find that I get into endless thought loops when trying to do fight distortions, perhaps because of my rather severe OCD. Who knows. I’m happy to see you blogging again, I have learned a lot from your blog.

    Comment by anon | May 5, 2010 | Reply

    • Now that I’m re-reading my comment, I think I already made a similar comment before. Woops 😛

      Comment by anon | May 5, 2010 | Reply

    • Now that I’m re-reading my comment, I think I made a similar comment before – woops 😛

      Comment by anon | May 5, 2010 | Reply

  3. gah! I didn’t think the first comment on my comment actually worked b/c I didn’t see it show up… Sorry!

    Comment by anon | May 5, 2010 | Reply

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