Monday, September 14, 2009
Individual perceptions of our bodies are often problematic for many people, for reasons which can be as varied as the individuals involved. It is a subject close to my own heart, and one to which I return (somewhat obsessively at times) again and again. I find myself fascinated by insights offered by friends into their own struggles or perceptions of how they view themselves. A concept of self that includes confidence in appearance, a certainty of desirability and self-assurance or worth based on not just innate personality but on appearance, continues to elude me for reasons which continue to perplex and frustrate not just me but those who say they love me.
I follow with interest writings by friends whose inner perceptions of self have offered glimpses into mindsets that fascinate me and at times made me envious. For it seems my entire life I’ve struggled with an impaired sense of self that has resulted in most of my existence being caught up in a circle of self-loathing.
A friend once said in her own writings, she was taught to ‘look at herself through her Master’s eyes’ and in so doing, finally discovered her own beauty. How wonderful a concept! (What a wise Master!) And how true. I know that, I KNOW it and apply it generously and honestly to those whom I myself adore, but somehow I can’t seem to apply that same rule of thumb to myself.
Inevitably those of us who suffer from what is in truth, a type of body dysmorphia, think that changing our bodies to some dreamed off state of being will make our discontent disappear. We think if we exercise more, firm up the arms, develop washboard abs, get those calf muscles flexing ... if we whittle away the weight and somehow, magically, fit into that yearned for size 14, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 ...0.... pick a number ... pick a number ANY number – because when all is said and done our rational minds KNOW that simply squeezing into a given size is not going to – in the end- make us happy.
There will be momentary triumphs of course when we reach (usually) the next size DOWN but then, that won’t be enough. We barely give ourselves time to savour our victory, the achievement of our “goal” when our eyes are again looking ahead; again, thinking, if we got to THIS size, surely, surely, the next one will be even more wonderfully rewarding. Not just attainable, but won’t it make us SO happy. We’ll be content THEN, we KNOW that ... and we whittle away and we exercise obsessively and we get to that NEXT size and we’re barely there and the cycle begins again ...
And then, because ultimately, people like me are unbalanced when it comes to how we view our bodies, something will happen – often some emotional blow – or exhaustion, or demands so onerous it derails our carefully planned strategies, often, usually, it is emotional in nature the reason we use to derail our goals, to sabotage and undermine our quest for the “perfect” size – you know, the one that will make you happy, the shape that will make it all better, the body type that makes you, finally, finally, sexy, desirable, delectable, KEEPABLE.
Yeah, that size.
Then all our hard efforts, our hard work, our quivering, fragile pride in our accomplishment is shattered and damn, there we are at the bottom again, failures, losers, screwing up AGAIN ... not reaching our goals AGAIN...
And yet, and yet ... I KNOW that even reaching that random goal, that yearned for “perfect” size doesn’t bring peace, hell it doesn’t even bring a sense of validation.
At one point – a couple of years ago – I hit “the size” – yeah, the skinny one, the one where you go into a store, for once without cringing, and get a rush- a HUGE rush when you have to keep asking for ANOTHER size – yeah, ANOTHER size less than the one you actually tried on – and sometimes, even more exciting, you end up trying on one that is TWO OR MORE sizes less than you thought you would need.
Problem is, I wasn’t happy then either.
Oh, I was thin, hell at one point, skinny. But did I look in the mirror and say, YEAH SELKIE – you DID it! Nope- I looked in the mirror and thought, crap, look at that skin- so much of it! Crap- look at that, my boobs are so small now. Crap, ugly stomach or WHAT? Hell, look at my shoulders, how BONY are those ... YUCK.
Of course I realized, even then as I looked at myself with self-loathing that this was SO not about the physical realities and so much MORE about what was behind my eyes. Because I remember (before that skinny phase) losing just about half of the weight and being in such a wonderful space with D. that I felt lush, feminine, sexual and so deliciously desirable. The little rolls still left, the imperfections faded to nothing before his gaze and I felt confident, wanted, complete.
For a while, when things turned sour I kept losing ....losing, losing, losing... fading away, a skeletal wraith with gaunt limbs and sunken eyes until the emotional morass of my realities sought to fill the empty spaces with the momentary, fleeting and ultimately, deceitful comfort of calories.
And again, I sit here, feeling a failure, feeling defeated, despairing that I’ll ever get it right.
Yet I have learned.
I know that my physical realities are in my world, reflections of my emotional life. That I fill with food what I should be pouring out in words and gaining flesh is not the same as gaining insight. I understand that the diabolical dance I have engaged in a good part of my life has to end and the music stopped. I know that my self-worth should not be based on my pant size nor my self-esteem on whether I can get into a size smaller than I did before.
And all that is what I know rationally .. I just have to convince the emotional soul of me of its truth.
Posted by selkie at 2:04 PM