Now, I’m actually beginning to luxuriate in my physicality. To feel a sense of compassion and empathy for my body especially when I consider how I abused it and detested it all my life. Not fair, considering how well it served me.
This process is not linear. It ebbs and flows.
I still have simply awful moments and days. But I swallow the discomfort and do my best to use the strategies I learned to carry on. (Delay. Food is Medicine. Distraction. Mindfulness. Self-Soothing Activities. My knitting and crocheting are perfect for this. You cannot eat and knit at the same time.)
Walking my dogs morning and night is a magical mindful activity that calms me instantly. We walk for about 45 minutes at a time and it’s the best therapy for me.
Other self-soothing exercises that work wonders for me are knitting and crocheting, caring for my plants (and trying not to murder them with my black thumb), grooming my dogs, looking at art books and seeing good movies.
The Gym Is Off-Limits, Forever…
Though I confess, at times I miss the gym, but going there would be analogous to a recovering alcoholic visiting a bar. Very triggering. For those of us recovering from eating disorders, during the first year following treatment, relapse is a real danger. We’re vulnerable. So my gym membership is gone.
When I think back to last year at this time, I remember the pain I was suffering and how I was struggling every minute of every day. I weighed less. I was smaller. Thinner. Skinny, I guess. Bony. Yet I felt hideous. I felt huge. I felt ugly. I was utterly beside myself with misery. Obsessing about every little lump and bump. I couldn’t think. Couldn’t write. Couldn’t function. I was tortured with suicidal thoughts. I was driving my husband crazy. I was starving myself, emotionally and physically.
Today, although I have no idea what I weigh, I almost never think about it. My bathroom scale is long gone, as is my food scale. Some of my clothes are too tight to wear, others fit me quite snuggly. If I bulge a bit, so what.
I am what I am, bulges and all…
When I saw Dr. Bob last month, for the first time since April (we’re seeing each other monthly now), his darling executive assistant said something that struck me like lightning.
“It’s so nice to see a woman of your age embracing her sexuality,” she said. “Most women wander around dressed like frumps.”
I was wearing a snug, scoop-necked black and white polka dot T-shirt over black jeans, with a slinky black top for warmth. White running shoes. A black backpack. No make-up other than lipstick. My hair is now practically a brush cut and it’s sprinkled with silver. I love it.
“Embracing your own sexuality…”
I’ve never considered myself sexy, yet there it was. A woman of roughly my age remarking on me “embracing my sexuality.” I had no idea that’s what I was doing.
After I left Dr. Bob’s office, I found myself moving a little differently. Playing with my so-called “sexuality,” as I walked back to the subway. Swinging my hips a bit. A new way of walking and it was fun. My husband, Marty, would say that I was walking “curvy.”
And you know what? I try not to a whit about how other people see me.
It’s far more important to discover how I see myself.
I’m opening my eyes for the first time.