My body and I have had some rollercoaster times; dips, corners, turns, a turbulent relationship, with arguments, negotiations, hatred and satisfaction all rolled into one. One thing for sure, is that this relationship isn’t one you can ‘break up’ with. It is probably the one relationship in your life that you can be sure of. I am realising this as I continue on my path of recovery from Anorexia. I actually was a pretty confident teenage and young adult, albeit my thighs that to me, were like tree trunks, poking out of my skinnier top half. Nevertheless I loved sport; I loved restaurants and eating nice food. My life was a ‘balance’ and my body and I got on ok, despite those little ‘niggling’ things that reared themselves now and again.
In my mid twenties, my relationship with my body changed, I looked to it for comfort, for reassurance and for confidence. I wasn’t able to find these things inside me for some reason, nor from someone else. My eating disorder never started as a vain attempt to be skinnier (despite the preconceptions) but becoming thin was a result of other inner turmoil.
Over time, I began to develop a new body, a new me! I was shrinking, I was frail, delicate and flimsy and this mirrored my feelings inside which gave me satisfaction. Some days I would walk home from the bus stop and feel like a leaf, ready to blow away into the wind. An empty wrapper or piece of rubbish, just blowing along in a spiral, tornado-like way, not caring where it would end up. My body became like a sea shell – empty, with an echo of life somewhere still inside it. The shell was pale, hollow and dry. Any sign of life was undetectable.
The arguments probably began then, ‘Set your alarm for the gym at 6.30’ I said ‘No’ said my body ‘it’s so warm and comfortable in bed, please don’t make me, and it’s raining’. I would feel my collarbone, the feeling of bones and little flesh began to become and appeal and a thrill which I could get from this way of life. It was fake boost of energy and confidence, sense of satisfaction and achievement.
As my weight changed, my core, and my soul seemed to get sucked out of me like a vacuum. Feelings were foreign and emotions were unrecognisable. I was using my body to cure my inner pain; it was scapegoat and smoke screen.
When the day came, I think my body was secretly so happy. Real food, warm and nourishing, filling every gap of me. Uncomfortable at first, I hated and resented my body. Poor thing, it only wanted to do what was natural. It started to take control again and one day I really cried for it. Tears of regret, guilt and sadness for what I had done to it. Many times I wanted to ‘divorce’ my body, exit it, and float away into another presence, where I didn’t have to face it. I can compare it to a bad day at work; all you want to do is ‘ to get the hell out’ and be released.
In time, memories came drifting back to me; the pleasure from certain foods filled my soul again and made my body smile. I recalled my curves and began to have some pride in my outer shell that carries around everything that is me. Because my body was happy, I became happier. The mean, shrivelled prune- like old lady inside me gave way to new light in my face, vibrancy and hope. It was like a dark room, lit by a small candle first, giving way to a larger lamp and bright light. The wind rushing past me as I cycled, as sped along using my legs for what they are made for, appreciating what they do for me. I felt alive again.
There are still so many sad days where we still have arguments, we still try to negotiate, but like any relationship I discuss it sensibly and look for the right answer and move on. Life is usually a search for perfection. I might always have that tendency in relationships and experiences, but there aren’t many, if any, where we find it, so why would we find it in our bodies? So maybe it is time to love the good things and accept the ‘niggling’ things and stand by my body until ‘death do us part’. I am sorry body for treating you so horribly. I was made ‘me’ for a reason, and that should be good enough.