For the last few weeks I’ve attempted to write out my thoughts about some topics. I started the entry, thought of a vaguely clever title, but the words never flowed. What few came out where disjointed and jumbled. I walked away for a couple of days, only for something else to happen that I felt required an entry. Rinse, repeat. What follows is now a mind dump, some paragraphs to try to get the thoughts out of my head so they stop eating me up. Perhaps it will allow me to process a bit more. Perhaps it will be enough to just move on.
Everything started with a picture – this picture. It was posted by a business I follow on BookFace, one that focuses on selling products for one specific type of exercise, one I want to get (back) into. I was idly scrolling through my feed over breakfast and came across the image, and it was an instant kick in the stomach to me. I showed it to BF who had no idea why I was so disturbed by it. In fact, he reasoned, some people like the comparison, and images sell. He’s not wrong. I’ve spent so much of my life trying to justify the food I was allowed to eat, and most of my recovery trying to unlearn that. I no longer want to live in a world where I have to keep a running total of calories out to justify the calories in. But I had a hard time articulating this (and I still do), because for some people this fuels them. And on the one hand if it fuels you to move does it matter what it is? I’ve been struggling to wrap my head around it.
And I’ve had a hard time with this because I’ve been struggling to find my own motivation for moving. They say choose an exercise that you find fun. Something you want to do (more than others) … because if you don’t like it on some level then it’s harder to keep yourself motivated to do it. And me? I like running. I mean … I like that there is really no cost involved (aside from a good pair of shoes and comfortable clothing). I don’t have to go anywhere, except outside and around the block a few times. And I still think I’d like to try my hand at yoga, because a flexible body and a mindful practice is definitely a smart idea for me. And yet, the motivation is lacking. I know I should get up with that 6 am alarm to go for a jog, but I find it hard to drag myself out of bed for a shower and work, let alone a run. I’m following tons of yoga studios on BookFace and lots of yogis on Instagram, but still I can’t seem to must the motivation to actually do anything. So I know I need to move, but I have no idea how to convince myself to move more.
Which this concept that I should, need, must move more became compounded by a slip in my recovery. And it wasn’t so much the food I was eating (as I had a week where I went out for lunch instead of taking it with me) but the motivation behind eating it – frustrated, upset, feeling down on myself. While I know that food is not a punishment in any regards, I also spent a week feeling that I didn’t deserve to look or feel good about myself, and that was reflected in my food choices. And when I did pull myself out of this (sort of – my household is on a tight budget, and so I started bringing lunches again) food tasted bland. I eat the same lunch 5 days a week because it’s cheap, it’s quick, and I usually enjoy it. In the last week though it felt like a punishment. What a trapped feeling to have, that no matter what I eat I’m punishing myself for existing. It’s being weighing very heavy on me these last couples of weeks.
And for all this I wondered if it was worth going back to tracking food and movement. If I was struggling in my mind about my own trends, if I was thinking I was slipping or treating my body worse … than shouldn’t I have something on paper that helps me see that I’m not? Except that I’m worried about falling into old patterns – justifying my meals, justifying skipping, counting and tracking and assigning value based on days instead of how I actually feel. And I think about how easy a lot of this was to do when I was alone and could hide it … now sharing space with someone else and knowing that I can’t hide anything from him. It means I’ve clammed up these last few weeks because I think back to the cupcake running image and I don’t know if I could ever explain anything enough that he might understand what I go through and how flawed my thinking is when it comes to this stuff.
Speaking of hiding … it’s all I’ve wanted to do for the two weeks. An unfortunately bug discovery in our home seemed to have been the straw that broke the stress dam … and my entire body burst into hives. As of right now they are covering my arms, my stomach, my lower back, my thighs, and (possibly) my legs (but my near-constant eczema on my legs means I can’t tell there, they itch about the same as usual). But for the rest of it there are red itchy bumps all over my skin, and I have found few moments of relief from the itching. But worse is the hit I’ve taken to my self-esteem … what little I was clinging to slipped away and I was filled with shame. Shame, I tell you! Over something I logically understand I had no control over, but still felt like I should be able to do something about it. In knowing this was distorted thinking I’ve done my best to keep with my usual levels of dress and comfort for the time of year and being home, but every time clothes come off it’s all I see. It’s all I think others are seeing. I’ve always had concerns about beauty marks and moles … but now having my entire body covered in redish bumps and rashes means I have entirely uncomfortable with my skin and appearance.
If I think about what all of these have in common, it’s almost all about media messages and not being able to escape them. I actually had this conversation with a dear friend not too long ago about this. It’s the fact that no matter how strong my personal resolve is I can’t escape the messages from all around. The pressure to eat a certain way, look a certain way, perform a certain way. I’ve done pretty good about knowing those messages are made-up and I need to forge my own path … but I’m struggling to figure it out, to find my own way. I don’t know how to talk to people about this. I don’t know how to reach out any more. I don’t know how to get comfortable with myself any more. I can ignore the messages that tell me only skinny is beautiful, but I have a harder time turning off the one that says clear smooth skin is beautiful. When I beat one there feels like five more ready to tell me what else is wrong with me. And I’m overwhelmed. I no longer feel like I belong and I’m punishing myself for existing.
I don’t know what the right answers are. I don’t know how I’m going to pull myself out of this hole, or if I even can. Maybe I need fall down further before I can (though I sincerely hope not). I don’t know how to move forward, and I don’t know who (if anyone) can help. But I still get up. I still fight through these thoughts and I still try to figure out the right thing for me. Each day is a chance to choose a new path. Each day is a chance to forgive myself, to reach out, to make a difference. It’s okay if I don’t. It’s wonderful if I do.