I have long thought that people needed to change. Society as a whole needs to change how we think about, teach and talk about self esteem, and to a lesser extent, body image. We need to take the things that we have now learned are “wrong” or damaging and learn to teach both our peers and those who look up to us. I think this is generally acknowledged in society, and that change will slowly occur (credit to Kat for this inspiration: Parents Getting it Wrong)
But what hadn’t occurred to me was that I need to change. If I’m to bring about change in those around me, I need to think about how I see myself and my own self image. I always thought that I was pretty good about it, that I don’t convey my negative body image to others, but I have recently realized that no matter how carefully I watch my language and my audience, no matter how much I internalize all the negativity, I am still impacting those around me. I just saw a photo of myself that was taken by a professional photographer (in the newspaper, actually) and the first thought I had was that I actually look really unhealthy. This is the first time I have ever thought this, the first time I have had to acknowledge that my dietician was/is right, the first time I have resigned myself to the thought that maybe I do need to gain some weight. Because no matter what I’m telling people, the loudest message that I send about how I feel about myself is my weight. And that will remain until I no longer have an eating disorder, if ever.
This has had a ground shattering impact on my life. It has brought to light the things that I have been ignoring; the fact that I have cut back on what I was eating, that I’m again engaging in subtle ED thoughts and behaviours, etc. I can’t ignore this.
I have realized that in order to influence the type of change that I want to, I will need to first change my attitudes. How can I tell my niece to lover her healthy body, if I can’t embrace one myself? How do I teach my peers to accept their bodies? How long do I think I can keep doing this to myself? Having an eating disorder as a teenage was one thing, but what kind of lasting damage am I doing to my body as an adult? Yes, there needs to be a significant overhaul to my attitude and the view I hold of my own eating disorder. I need to stop thinking of it as a friend, or stability, or turning to it when things get difficult. There needs to be more in my life that has importance over that of the eating disorder.
This is going to be difficult, but little realizations like the one I had last week are going to make the difference. It has made me see that I can actually achieve health.
I know the general theme to my blogs is my progress in recovery, and it might be getting old, but I truly do believe that the only way I’m going to get well one day is to make these small steps towards overall health. I tried the hospitalization and forced weight gain, that didn’t do it. But it seems like every week I am noticing something new in myself that is propelling me to what can be a sustainable recovery and a healthy life. I just hope I have it right this time.