Thursday, September 9, 2010

Waiting To Be Thin

I've been a lot of things. A teacher, a seller of video games, a barista, a stable hand, a camp counselor, an animal sanctuary employee -- I've worn many hats in my nearly thirty (yikes!) years. My body has been a lot of things, too. I've been too big:
DSCF0280
(taken in September 2005 at the Corn Palace)

And too small:
New kitchen!
(taken in September 2008 -- after I had gained a bit of weight, amazingly)

Now I'm somewhere in the middle. Perhaps on the higher end of "middle," but in the middle nonetheless. And my wrestling with weight, health, body image, self esteem, and food continues, to my intense frustration. I just want to be done with all this, but of course it isn't that easy. But I'm hoping that I'm beginning to catch hold of a thread that will help pull me out of my present place.

Ever since I began my descent into eating disorder territory nearly four years ago, I've followed an arbitrary self-imposed rule -- that I need to wait to be (or, more accurately, feel) thin before I can do anything. These can be smaller things, like going to a yoga class, or the larger challenge of teaching a yoga class. If I felt fat, or if I had binged or over-eaten, I took myself out of the world until I felt that the problem had been "fixed." Back in the day that meant passing on substitute teaching jobs, canceling on friends, and just generally being a recluse. I often even didn't exercise on these days of withdrawal, even though that doesn't make much sense. But then, the whole thing doesn't make much sense to be begin with.

And now, I'm doing it again. I don't see the few friends we have, my job is home-based (sadly, the housekeeping job did not work out), and the times I do leave the house it's for a solitary hike with the pups. This way of living worked for a little while earlier this summer, but all of this seclusion is starting to finally wear on me in a bad way.

Unfortunately, according to my "wait to feel thin" rule, I'm not "allowed" to do anything outside of the house until I've lost weight, until I'm thin enough to feel acceptable. I think I do this because I'm afraid of what other people will think, that people I know will see me and notice I've put on weight. I don't even think I'm worried about them shunning me due to my weight fluctuation. Instead, I just don't want them to know. So I hide.

But hiding isn't working anymore. I'm overweight and, even though I'm working on my physical and mental health, I'm not going to "feel thin enough" by the time some not-too-distant-future events become present reality. I have one of my free retrains for my YogaFit teacher certification up next weekend, and at the end of the month I'm heading to the redwoods of California for Hoopcamp. I am so excited for both -- but I'm also terrified. I've considered canceling on Hoopcamp too many times to count. Why? Because I don't "feel thin enough."

I know it's silly. And what's even more ridiculous is that, even at my lowest (and most dangerous) weight, I never "felt thin enough." Ever. If I hadn't found my way to my therapist's office (and I literally cannot remember how that came about, other than God was orchestrating it), I probably would have died of starvation. Today I came across this photo (taken in October 2008), and the small size of my legs surprised me. I don't ever remember my legs feeling as thin as they were:
191/365
So, when all evidence points to the fact that I will never "feel thin enough," why do I still hold myself to this standard? I wish I knew. Maybe I'll always want to live according to this standard. But just because the disordered part of me wants to doesn't mean that I have to.

Right now that means not bailing on Hoopcamp, even though I'll be spending three days moving my lumpy body next to svelte hoopers with chiseled abs. That means showing up for my YogaFit retrain in spite of the fact that it's very likely that I'll be the largest person there, and that I'll see people who remember me as being thinner. It'll be hard . . . but I think I'll regret it far more if I don't do these things than if I do.

But Hoopcamp and yoga teacher training are big things. I need to practice not-hiding on a day-to-day level, too. That's a little harder, because it's so easy to become entrenched in habits that slowly wear down into ruts that are difficult to veer away from. But, while scrolling through my Flickr archives this morning, I was reminded of how I tried to flex my creative muscles of not just writing but also visual art. I attempted several photography projects. I used to crochet things. I even tried my hand at drawing. In other words, life was about more than food and my body.

I want to go back to that -- except I don't want to go back. I want to move forward, using that as part of my compass. And there isn't even a question of if I can do it, because I know it's possible. The real question is how. I don't know, but I going to try. Blogging about it is part of the trying, because now I feel more accountable for going (or not going) to Hoopcamp and the yoga retrain. I know I've said it before, but thank you for reading, and for helping me stick to my guns.

What inspires you and helps you live a balanced life? Here are some of my past projects, inspiring me for a less body-fixated future:
Day 126 / Sketchy
In progress
Room with a view, part twop
Turtle pal
Today's 365 rejects
Hello, old friends. It's been too long.

4 comments:

  1. Beth, until I saw that photo from 2008, I had no clear idea just what your struggle has been like. I've always been overweight/obese, so I understand the feelings of not being thin enough (I came out of the womb plump!), but to be that thin and still not see yourself as "thin enough" - it must be heart-wrenching. Keep focusing outside your skin and fighting those hermit impulses. You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. You're in my prayers, sister.Hope to see a video from Hoopcamp - wish I could be there with you. And while you're there, look around - I'll bet you anything you'll see more than one Curvy Hooper. ;)

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  2. Thanks, Traci. I had a feeling you'd be the first person to comment on this post. :)

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  3. I also have unhealthy habits (non food related) that I tend to fall back into if I don't keep my mind sane. Whenever I'm feeling out of balance I notice that I've let writing, reading, praying, etc. go. It's just part of my nature I really need to learn to up-keep.Despite your struggles up and down and your different body sizes one thing I notice constant in all of your photos is your beautiful face which clearly allows your personality and shining smile through! You can honestly tell it is you and who you are in each photo - a true testiment to your strong will!

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  4. Lindsay and James CoSeptember 10, 2010 at 8:49 AM

    I love that you shared this because in some way we can all relate. We all have standards on ourself. But unfortunately its turned into a bondage (for me at least) and something I need to break free of. Shifting the focus on health and happiness, that takes a lot of looking inward and freeing up your mind. Easier said than done, but we can all do it! :)

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"I am glad you are here with me."
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King