This guest blog is written by a client who wishes to share her thoughts…
Sometimes I have to ask, “Is there something in our water?” Something that makes it okay to comment on someone else’s body? Something that affirms that “beauty is only skin deep”?
I have been pondering these ideas after a recent interaction I had on a dating site, using the dating site account profile that I set up years ago. I recently got back on the site and had not yet updated my profile. (It is now up to date: the “sick” me is not one I want to flaunt. Not only is it not a realistic representation of what I look like anymore, it also brings up old memories. Memories better left in the past.)
While updating my profile I was struck by how few recent photos of myself are included in my photo albums. Why is this? The shame of my new body. I avoid the camera at all costs. Not because I am so worried about other people who are obviously drinking tainted water, but because I am only human and I must confess: I drink water, too. I am filled with embarrassment every time I see my reflection. It just doesn’t fit what I am feeling on the inside or what I have been through in the past.
That’s the key point here: it was in the past. My past not my present. A lot has changed since then. Not just my body. Being in recovery has changed my body of course but it has also changed my life. And while I struggle with body image daily I would not return to my past for a chance to be in my “sick” body.
Sure, on days like today it seems extremely tempting to return to old patterns. I found this out all too quickly as I casually skipped breakfast this morning. The thing is – it was not casual or unimportant. It was intentional. A direct choice influenced strongly by another.
Which brings me back full circle to the dating site and profile I mentioned earlier. So, I was talking to this man, right? As people often do on dating sites. One thing led to another and we set up a time to meet. Before the conversation ended, he asked to see more photos. I agreed and shared my personal Instagram username.
After several minutes he returned to the conversation. He commented to me on “how drastic a change your body appears to have been through.” He continued, “you’ve gained a lot of weight.” My heart sank. And he is right: my body is no longer the same body I had then.
My body is now one filled with life and not just an empty shell that I wear.
Rest assured, the date is off. But today I have to pick up the pieces left behind by that conversation. Today I have to be strong. Today I have to make the choice for recovery, which is more challenging than it was yesterday. Today I remind myself that he is only human. That though what he said hurt me, I will not let it throw me back down the rabbit hole I once lived in. Today I hold both: the fact that what he said was true and that what he said was extremely wrong and inappropriate.
I hold hope today. Hope that he learns to think before he speaks. Hope that he does not so badly offend someone else. And mostly, I hold hope for myself. That I can learn to accept my body as my own and embrace it. That I can stand tall and proud of the person I have become. Because truly, I am the only person who knows the depth of what I have been through. I did not share with him that I am in recovery from a severe eating disorder. Nor did I share how hurt I was and am by his words.
Let me leave you with these two things: Have hope, it honestly gets better. And, think twice before you drink our society’s tainted water.