This time of year seems to make me reflect more than usual on my past. Certain personal troubles and landmarks are approaching which are at the forefront of my mind and I am sifting through them one by one. Although I’m in no doubt that it’s also been down to the recent onslaught of sunshine that has finally descended upon Glasgow that has spiked a surge of positivity within me – and with that positivity comes a natural instinct to compare and contrast my life from then versus to now.
The most important theme here by the way is feeling positive, I had been planning to address slightly more sombre topics recently but since I’ve been feeling that extra bit better in myself I want to harness those happy feelings and utilise them so that they keep on going and hopefully reach out to others.
So you may wonder what I mean about that ‘extra bit better in myself’. Over the Easter weekend I felt like I finally had a piece of myself back, I finally felt confident again in how I looked. And not just a look in the mirror and thinking ‘That’s okay’ or ‘You look good’; I felt beautiful and attractive and the amount of times I’ve honestly felt that way before my binge eating disorder kicked in has been minimal.
2011 was a difficult year for me, the first half especially. Don’t get me wrong it wasn’t all doom and gloom, there were some great things that happened (DisneyWorld and meeting future husband mostly!) but it also witnessed probably the peak of my binging, my self-loathing, my inability for self-control and my weight. I gained a noticeable amount of weight in a rather short space of time, whereas up until then (although it didn’t feel that way to me) my body didn’t change all that drastically.
I’ve been thinking a lot about one particular memory from that time: My friends wedding and what I was going to wear. I already owned some dresses that I loved but had never worn for obvious ‘there’s no way I’m going to fit in them’ reasons, however I shortened it down to two options – a satin navy blue halter neck and an elegant black & white strapless number. My mum had bought me them both amongst many other beautiful outfits that all hung in my wardrobe making me ashamed of myself.
So just over a week before the wedding I went on a diet that was going to solve all my problems. Apparently this certain diet is intended for obese patients to lose enough weight so it’s safe for them to have surgical procedures: Quick weight loss in a limited amount of time, perfect I figured. I could lose up to 17 pounds in a week – that was the diet for me. Not that I expected to lose that exact amount but I was excited because by the end of the week I was going to fit into what I wanted to wear. Not point in trying them both on beforehand, no, I would only try them out once the diet was nearly over and I would feel so good about myself.
Cut to 48 hours before the big day and one of the worst meltdowns I’ve had. The zips wouldn’t go up. I was still fat, I was still disgusting, I was still the same complete utter failure despite my efforts to change. I berated myself for being so stupid and in denial of how big I actually must be. The difference this time however to my usual isolated distress was that someone else had to witnessed it. My poor mum, logical, reasonable and lovingly trying to calm me down whilst I was probably (it’s hard to remember exactly all the horrible stuff) crying, being hateful about myself and pulling at the stomach I detested. Eventually my self-loathing made her cry too: ‘That’s my daughter you’re talking about, you can’t speak about her that way’ is what she told me.
She’s so right. She always is.
Dammit I started this whole piece about positivity and right now as I type, tears are streaming down my face with these memories. Although these aren’t all tears of sadness; at least 75% of these tears have got to be relief. Relief that those stories and incidences are the past. Relief at I am not that person any more.
Those 2 dresses live at my mums house and a few days ago I tried them again. They still didn’t fit, the zip still wouldn’t go completely to the top but I didn’t care. It literally made zero difference to me, it didn’t matter any more. Why? Because an outfit that doesn’t fit doesn’t mean my self-worth should automatically reduce. I still looked good, I still felt good, I liked myself and I was confident – a dress that’s a size too small isn’t going to change that. It doesn’t have the same powerful grip over me any more. If it doesn’t fit then that’s the dresses fault, not a comment on my appearance. I don’t need to seek a zips approval and standards any more to determine my worth and how I should feel about myself.
It’s not easy changing your outlook on yourself from negative to positive, especially when it is so much easier to hate than love yourself. It’s also not easy learning to believe the positive feelings and gaining the strength to not convince yourself it’s a fleeting moment. I’m still trying, I’m still learning, but my goodness life is wonderful when you reflect on how far you’ve come and even a small gesture such as telling my mum she can sell those dresses on ebay because they’ll probably never fit feels like a huge victory. And when you’re in recovery you’ve got to celebrate the victories and congratulate yourself no matter how big or small.