I have spent most of my life dealing with and trying to have a normal life despite, anorexia and bulimia and body dysmorphic disorder. But what happens when someone who sees herself as gross and disgusting and fat actually *becomes* truly overweight and “big” and it’s not just in her head?
Even at my worst with starving myself – or when I was “better” and just throwing up the food that I ate – I knew, rationally that I was not the size and shape that my eyes saw and my hands felt. I was logical enough to be aware of my distorted view. It didn’t change how I saw myself or how I felt but there was a sliver of talking myself off the maniacal ledge of self-hate with reason and logic. I am first and foremost a logical person and emotions can, and have been, simply put on hold to listen to reason.
But here I find myself 18 pounds up in the last almost 2 years. Time after time trying to lose the weight and finding myself now heavier every month. A body destroyed from years of abuse of starvation now metabolically messed up. Eating a “normal” amount of food causes weight gain. I have had by basal metabolic rate tested and it is well below “normal” range. A caloric intake that would maintain on most, on me packs weight on fast. A simple fact and one I am trying to change with regular, structured eating but it appears to have no impact. I exercise 6 days a week and workout hard. Sweat dripping off of me. 60 plus minutes of cardio plus weight training… all to simply watch the scale and the measurements slowly go up over the last 2 years. I have had every blood test imaginable to check hormonal function. Nothing. Everything not only normal but , according to my doctor, better than most people in their twenties. So it’s not medical.
A closet full of clothes that no longer fit, no matter how I try to squeeze my ever-growing, disgusting body into them. Mornings filled with shame that I can’t wear my work clothes and seeing another summer come toward me knowing that none of my dresses or skirts fit properly. A week of down 2 pounds followed by one of up 3. Down 3 pounds, up 2. No changes the best I can hope for. Any hope or belief that I can actually make a change seriously faltering and giving way to the realization that no matter how hard I try, I can’t love myself like this.
It’s not all in my head. Clothes don’t lie. Sizes on labels that are up 2 and 3 sizes from what is “normal” show that yes, it’s really me getting fatter and fatter and more and more gross to myself every week. This is not case of me just needing to decide to love myself how I am. I can’t and won’t. I can’t be bigger every week and just shrug it off and declare that I’m beautiful no matter what and I’m fabulous. I shrink from the idea even of anyone being near me physically.
My intimate life non-existent and with no prospect of that changing starting to devastate me. I can’t fathom the idea of anyone touching me or having their eyes on me. It’s not as simple as what people tell me… your body is a vessel etc. Yes, I know that… and I have brief flickering nanoseconds of feeling that… but the actual ability to be naked in front of someone, anyone… is an impossibility to me. The disgust and self-hatred that I have for my body and how it looks and feels trumps any desire to be close or intimate with anyone. Factor in that there is the underlying base feeling of such intense loathing for my body that why in the world would I want to have it feel good when it (and I, by connection) don’t deserve to feel good… and you have a recipe for celibacy and isolation which is where I have been for a very long time now.
There is no happy ending to this. A lifetime of wanting so badly to be free of this and now facing the reality that I am not only no closer, but in fact getting worse almost daily. At 42 years old my potential to finally find the self acceptance that I’ve yearned for is slipping away quickly. I can’t even tell myself that I need to just move past what’s in my head because now, it sure as hell isn’t just in my head anymore… and that isn’t something I can just get past.
So I put people off, I turn down offers and dates and don’t even want to casually socialize most of the time anymore. I can’t explain fully enough that really and honestly, it’s not you, it’s me.