It’s a good thing I’m not my boyfriend, because I’d have to break up with myself
I’m wondering if you are as sick of hearing me talk about how much I hate my body as I am sick of telling you. And of hating it. But it’s what’s on the table this week. So here goes…
As I have mentioned before, my eating and body image disorders are irrational. And knowing that does not make me rational. I cannot simply say “Well, that’s irrational,” and then start thinking like a normal person. But there is sometimes some relief to be found in distinguishing and pointing out the irrationality. To being able to laugh at the bad logic and false beliefs. Or at least use the knowledge that something is false to change the channel in my head. Not let those kinds of thoughts become bigger, louder and more daunting. Not let them repeat on an endless loop in my brain.
And I have also mentioned before that there are conflicting, often opposite, thoughts and concepts about myself and my life that live side by side in my understanding. And right now, I am kind of immersed in one of my dual realities.
I hate my body. I feel like I can’t say it enough. I hate it. It’s fat. It’s grotesque. It is a neon sign blinking THIS WOMAN IS BROKEN. THIS WOMAN IS UNWORTHY. THIS WOMAN DOES NOT DESERVE LOVE. My body is ugly and I am ugly and no man could possibly find me attractive.
But they do. More than ever before. And entirely differently. There is something akin to reverence in the way that they look at me. Strangers. Men sneaking glances at me when they think I’m not looking. Men smiling nervously at me, struggling to say something. Men who seem to say “who me?” when I smile at them on the street or the subway.
And if there is an opportunity, I try to find my reflection to see what they are seeing. And Holy Mother of God! I’m positively, undeniably stunning! I can see it too. It’s true. I am better looking at 35 than I have ever been. Ever in my entire life. And that’s sayin’ somethin’. When I turned 30 and woke up from the fog of sugar withdrawal, it occurred to me that I was, in fact, a beautiful woman. And all of a sudden, five and a half years later, I am out of my own league.
Did I mention that I am hideous? Fat and misshapen and totally unloveable?
The truth is actually that I am beautiful. And not “somewhere in between” my two concepts of myself. I am absolutely as beautiful as I have been telling you I am. Drop dead, knock out, gorgeous. (If you are laughing at, or shocked by my willingness to “toot my own horn”, I’ll just say that I am sure that there is nothing wrong with knowing and acknowledging my beauty. I find no shame in it. I don’t believe in false modesty. It’s for pre-teen girls and people fishing for compliments, of which I am neither.)
So I have to look at what this hatred is. Because yes, I have gained 24 lbs in the past 6 months. And yes, I have gone from a size 6 to a size 8. But I am comparing myself to obese women, thinking I look like them. I am breaking down in hysterical sobs at the sight of my body in the mirror. I am being more cruelly critical of myself than is healthy or just. I see women who I know are bigger than me (because we’re friends and I know what size they are), and they do not occur to me as fat or ugly. They are beautiful and healthy. It is obvious that there is nothing “wrong” with their bodies. If I were a boyfriend, I’d tell myself to dump my abusive ass.
It has occurred to me that I am using this weight gain as an excuse to hate my body. As if I have been waiting and wanting to hate it for years. As if when I stopped eating compulsively, and got a beautiful, normal, healthy body, I became a sheriff and my body was the bad guy who had crossed state lines. Fine. You got past me this time. But I’ll be watching you. And if you set so much as one toe out of line, I’ll see you hang. I have been waiting for my body to disappoint me so I could go back to despising it and myself.
I don’t know why. And I don’t know what to do about it.
I want this to stop being an issue already. I am exhausted. What I want is to go into hibernation, and wake up when all of this is resolved. Because this obsession with my body is overwhelming me. Try to love my body. Let myself hate my body. Stop thinking about my body. Buy new clothes for this body. Stop caring about how I dress for now. Meet men who think I’m beautiful the way I am right now. Don’t try to meet anyone until I feel attractive again.
My biggest fear is that I will be stuck here. I don’t just mean in this body (though I definitely fear that too). I am afraid that I will never get past this self-hatred, and that I will never allow myself to be loved. Because the one thing I understand fully is that this all comes back to love. That I want to love and be loved and that I am afraid that will never happen for me. I did all of this work to be a better person so that I could be someone I was proud of. And someone I could be proud to offer as a woman and a partner. And I am afraid that I have come as far as I am capable of going. And that it’s just not far enough. And maybe I needed a scapegoat. Someone or something to blame for not being loveable. And maybe my body is it.