My Body is a Monument

Hi all, I think I am still riding the high from last weeks post. If you didn’t get a chance to read Kitty’s story I highly encourage that you do so. It was awesome to be able to write about someone else for a change. And I am beyond excited for my September story that will be coming at the end of this month, so keep an eye out!

As for this week, I have something important I would like to write about. This is something that used to dominate my blog, but I have steered away from for quite some time.

I am ready to talk about it again: My Body.

**Trigger warnings of self-harm and eating disorders**

In therapy, I talk a lot about my relationship with my body. I do a lot of inner child work  which you can read more about with this link. For one of my sessions we talked about my first memory of hating my body.  She told me to close my eyes and just think of a memory that comes up. I could picture it so clearly:

My hair was a mess that day because we had just gotten back from recess. I was wearing cat ears made of felt and so the felt kept rubbing against my hair and creating the little ones to stand up with my pony slicked back as tight as it could go. I was wearing a navy blue nike shirt and some jeans. There was so much joy because it was the last day with our 1st grade reading buddies.  My co-reading buddy and I crouched down next to our first grade friend and the adult snapped the shot. A few days later the pictures were developed and hung in the hallway. I remember feeling complete shame every time I had to walk past that photograph. My co-reading buddy was flawless. Her long blonde hair flowing in the photograph, no sign of rolls on her skin. I remember thinking how she was pretty and thin and I was fat and ugly.

I was 10 years old. 

I remember having to go to JCPenny for back to school shopping because it was the only store that had clothes for bigger kids. I  recalled the hatred I felt for being the fat cheerleader, squeezing into the largest skirt they had.  I remember developing breasts much earlier than I wanted and being teased about it constantly. I wanted to hide in a baggy sweatshirt and never let anyone see my body, including myself.

My body has been was a battleground for as long as I can remember. In high school, as my depression peaked, I began cutting my thighs. Why my thighs, you might ask? Well for starters it was much easier to hide. Also, I hated my thighs more than I hated any other part of my body. I thought maybe scars would make me love them more and if that didn’t work at least they would be punished for being the bane of my existence. I hate to admit that it worked. I liked the scars. I like telling people that my cat scratched me when the wounds would make a brief appearance at a sleepover. I liked having this secret ritual that helped me cope with the hatred I was feeling for my body.

And with all that I ate.

I ate to cope. I ate to stay the way I was. I ate to feel. Food was my life raft.

It got dark… like really dark. For a long time I think I was just drifting along in a sea of darkness, not really knowing or wanting to know how to get out. Then, little by little, it started to get light.

I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting lately to understand how I got from point A to point B. How did I go from despising my body more than anything to people telling me I inspire them to love their own body? It certainly wasn’t over night.

So, I did what always helps me process, I sat down and I started writing. I wrote about the teasing, the cheerleading, the comparisons, the dieting, the misunderstandings of my own worth. I thought about my need for love and how I put value to my body by peoples desire to have it. I doodled about the body positive movement, Ashley Graham, and Lizzo. I wrote about writing and the power I found from telling my truth about my body. I journaled about my binge eating disorder diagnosis and what it felt like to hear that for the first time. Then I thought about therapy and all the help it has given me.

Earlier I wrote that my body has been a battleground and crossed it out, because it feels as though the war is finally over. My body is now a monument where a battle used to take place. This is not to say that I am all loving, never have a down day, totally happy all the time. Ew. This is to say that I can now go to these parts of myself without a sword in my hand trying to cut them all down. I can sit with the feeling and let it just be there. Like most monuments, I pay tribute to all the ways the war shaped me and what it taught me. Basically, I got from point A to point B by learning how to be gentle… And Lizzo.

When it comes to all the work I have done, and keep doing, it is all with the hope that the next generation, my own future kids, can feel happy in their skin. I don’t want to pass down an ideal of what size, gender, height, body box they have to fit into. I just want them to be kids.

And so lately, when I start to feel really down about my body, I think of what I would do as a kid if I didn’t have this ideal in my head. Then, I stand in front of my mirror, usually in my bra and underwear and I just dance. I put on a song that I can’t help but move too, I wiggle my thighs with the scar still there, moving with me. I look at my body with a bit of naivety, just allowing it to be. 10/10 would recommend.

A[wo]men

If you are struggling with your body image, please know that you are not alone. Also know, that it doesn’t have to feel this way forever. Little by little it can get lighter for you. And if you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder reach out to the  National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) or me and I can assist you in finding the help you want.

The weapons are drawn.

And as the mirror shatters,

Your own worst enemy has been defeated.

-How to build a monument

*Featured image drawn during my exploration doodles of the body-positive movement. Done with my eyes-closed, as encouraged by a dear friend, to take away judgement*

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