Not so long ago, I found myself standing on a warm, sunny, sandy beach in my very favorite place on earth.
My folks and I were passing a pair of binoculars between us.
The focus of our avid interest?
Soft round brown harbor seals.
After struggling through half a mile of soft sand on foot, we burst over the top of the High Head dunes on Cape Cod to discover them by the hundreds, basking on the warm sand and bobbing happily in the surf with just their plump sweet noses upturned towards the sun.
We were riveted.
Suddenly I heard myself exclaim, “I love seals and all their round soft cute rolls of blubbery goodness!”
Did I really just utter the equivalent of “I love blubber?”
Yet there I was, standing on the beach beside them, feeling uncomfortably, well, blubbery, myself.
I started pondering what it is that makes me love the sight of seals precisely because they are so soft and round and curvy and cuddly.
But then, when I regard my own curvy appearance, somehow my standards change.
In fact, as I continue the process of working my way up and out of the years of brainwashing that have left me unable to appreciate or enjoy inhabiting my own increasingly curvy form, I feel ever-increasing waves of sadness in moments like these.
Sometimes I wonder – WHY? What HAPPENED?
At what exact point did I give up and say, “Okay, fine, I agree to agree that ‘without curves’ is more attractive than ‘with curves'”?
WHEN (in what now feels like a twisted reworking of “captor’s syndrome“) did I begin to side with the culture denying me the right to develop AND enjoy womanly rolls and curves?
How much happier I would feel on a daily basis if only I could look in the mirror, catch a glimpse of soft round curves (my own), and feel the kind of spontaneous joy I feel when I behold a curvy seal!
That would be the life….for sure.
I am working on it. I am determined to get there.
I am committed to reaching the day when the tide at last turns (so to speak) and the sight and feel and permanent presence of my own curves brings a flood of confidence and gratitude rather than fear or dread.
Sometimes people ask me, “Do you consider yourself recovered from your eating disorder?”
Sometimes those same people then ask me how I can say I am recovered when I clearly don’t yet love the look of my recovered body.
I tell them that is a very good question.
I also tell them I’m not sure yet how to answer.
All I know is: a) I am recovered from my eating disorder, and b) I am still working to love my recovered body.
That is just how it is for me.
But of course I am only one recovered person – there are many recovered people and each has their own intensely personal experience to share.
For now, every day I continue to be recovered from my eating disorder (meaning that I no longer engage in eating disordered thoughts or behaviors).
As well, every day I continue to push back with increasing strength against my own unkind thoughts about the look and feel of my recovered body.
I do this because I know that every little effort I make counts. I know that, if I just keep making the effort, one day I won’t struggle to love my recovered body anymore.
In the meantime, seals help me remember where I am headed.
The sight and presence of plump, friendly, beautifully blubbery seals also helps me to rekindle my desire and determination to get there.
Seals mentor me to embrace my own curves and celebrate them.
Seals remind me how good it will feel to finally get there – to revel and roll around in my own curves, and even display them to doting hordes of binocular-wielding admirers who yell out things like “I love blubber!”
Today’s Takeaway: Do you have mentors who help you to deepen your acceptance and enjoyment of your own form (or some aspect or issue within yourself that you may struggle to make peace with?) Who are those mentors? What do they help you to learn? What do you see in them that you want to experience for yourself?