My mood and my body image go hand in hand. When I am in a bad mood, I NEED to avoid the mirror. That might sound funny to some, but I swear I gain 10 pounds when I am sad, angry or irritated. If I look in the mirror, I might have a full blown panic attack because I can’t figure out where the extra weight came from. I will talk myself down by telling myself that I am feeling negative, so my eyes only see negative. Having recovered from an eating disorder does not mean my body image has improved, in fact, sometimes I am convinced it is worse than it has ever been.
While I was pregnant I was so miserable, I could not look at myself. I was eating extremely unhealthy, I was nauseous constantly and gained 65 pounds… maybe 70, I stopped looking at the scale. I was already depressed as it was, and every time anyone saw me they wanted to look at my stomach, or worse, touch it. I watched my body fill out, saw stretch marks emerge, bought clothes that were bigger than I had ever worn, I had acne… it was a teenagers nightmare. I was disgusted with myself, I felt so ugly that I could not imagine anyone else thinking any different. I pushed everyone away.
Birth probably made things worse because then I did not have the “I’m pregnant” excuse. However I did have the “I just had a baby” excuse, and I have seen that one used for years, if not for the rest of the mothers life. I admit, it was fun going from an A cup to a DD, while breastfeeding, but now I’m back to my barely A cup with stretch marks, and loose skin. (Desperate Housewives was one of my favorite shows, and I love the scene where Lynette tells the young pregnant girl that her boobs look like the balloons you find behind the couch 2 weeks after the party, and her stomach looks like spanish stucco. I can relate to the boob part!!! That entire scene is awesome! Here, just watch it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2eKGsHge9NU ) It took me a year to fit comfortably back in my clothes, thanks to breast feeding, because I did not do any exercise besides taking some walks.
Yesterday I posted about how I can’t eat when I am upset, some of that has to do with my body image. In my negative mood I will dissect my body, and tell myself I should not have eaten so much, even if I hadn’t eaten a lot. I will focus on things that I really can’t change, and in reality in these moments, there is nothing I can do… I am already doing what I need to, I eat clean, I work out… I need to focus on being positive. Loving myself. You know that feeling when you think of being intimate with someone who disgusts you? You feel gross inside and out. That is how I feel about myself when I am challenged to show myself love.
When I was in treatment for my eating disorder I was given an assignment, to make a doll that represented me, a baby Justine doll, and nurture her for a day. It was supposed to be me when I was 2, around the time my mom left us. After making the doll, I promptly threw it over my shoulder, and did not touch it for a week. The next time we had group with all of our therapists, mine asked me if I had completed the task. I said I made the doll, and no I did not nurture it, it’s not even real, after all. I should have known better because my next assignment was to nurture that damn thing for the next WEEK! My therapist asked me to go get the doll. I got it and put her down in front of me.
She asked me to hold her…
I picked it up by it’s hair.
She asked me to hold her like a baby.
She asked me to look at her.
“Why won’t you look at her?”
Me: “I can’t.”
Me: “I don’t know, I hate it.”
Me: “I don’t know.”
“Look at her.”
Me: (I looked at her, and started to cry) “She is ugly, and fat, and I hate her.”
“She is only a baby, how can you hate a baby?”
Me: “I don’t know… I hate her.”
“Hug her, tell her you love her.”
Me: (Hugging her) I can’t, I don’t love her.
At this point I broke down. It was crazy to me that I could HATE a doll so much. I had never realized how worthless I felt, how ugly, and disgusting I thought I was. Those are the voices in my head when I look in the mirror sometimes. When I got out of treatment I threw that doll away.
I can’t imagine my beautiful, perfect, smart baby girl feeling the way I felt towards that doll… I mean myself.