Body image is a bitch with an eating disorder. it’s not an awesome piece of hovering information over anyone’s life but when you have an eating disorder it rules the planets in your mind more intensely. It’s never about the body in my case, ever. As many times as I wrap it around and exclaim to my dietitian “but it’s because I’m fat I can’t look like this I can’t be this this isn’t me I hate this I hate every curve” it’s never about my physical form.
What is behind the body image for me changes, but the theme is the same: whatever I don’t want to face. Being in treatment, especially residential and partial hospitalization, re-maps your mind to being a human who will always be aware of and deal with the shadows in the realm of the therapeutic world. Even if I avoid the work, I have a vast awareness of how it impacts who I am and what I do–and I will always want to change it. I’m not kidding when I say I compare the last two years of my life to getting a masters in any other realm. Who I am as a woman is bigger and more concrete than I ever could have imagined.
With that comes sensing imbalance and referring to all I’ve learned to dissect and make more of my life instead of being stuck in a circle of eating disorder and other self destructive behaviors that I’ve relied on for the prior 22 years of my life. Could I have continued living like that? Sure. An artist and performer and random job tasker, a lover, a living day to day creature? Absolutely…well until I died from it, which I have no doubt I would have. More than dying from complications of the eating disorder itself, most will die from taking their own lives.
So yes, I could have lived for a long time without treatment. I may even be out there today, slinging shots with friends and laughing after a show. But I’m not. I chose to be in the therapeutic world and when I relapse I choose help over and over again. This has been the most challenging and rewarding portion of my life. The dry spells of finding identity when you’re so aware of yourself coupled with intense desire to face every pain without destruction…it’s full time dedication to what in my case has been a calling to who I am. In my life it’s been true: the obstacle is the path.
So it’s not about what I look like, it’s about everything else I feel sharply as soon as it forms–focusing on starving or drinking is a wonderful detour. How cool would it be to say who I was before all this work was my best self? I had fun. I was also dead inside. Completely numb. I avoided the pain, and in that I felt little true joy.
Also go see Straight Outta Compton.