The third party, AKA; a partner

I am not necessarily one of analogies, however, sometimes they really do help make a point.

The other day, as I was thinking of how to explain the chaos in my head and its effect on my (physical) confidence, I realized something. That, my relationship with my body is like an abusive relationship. Yes, I know, what an epiphany right? But I don’t just mean that I abuse my body (which I have and occasionally still do), but, that the relationship is very much like an actual abusive marriage. Let me explain.

The abusive relationship takes place in a supposedly safe haven (the home, or in this case, my head). It is thus separated from the outside world and from external interference. It’s not something you would easily discuss with others. And this is how it can subsist, because, no one can intervene if they are not in the know. Trouble arises though, when there is a third party involved. Let’s say that, in the analogy, your sister gets evicted and needs to crash at your place while she is in between houses. In my self-abusive relationship, the third party could be a partner. Both times, there’s someone wiggling its way into the privacy of this abusive relationship. Someone is (about) to become aware of it.

You can’t hide the fact your husband beats you around the house daily for your sister who is now living in the same space. Just like I can’t hide the fact I (verbally) abuse my body daily to someone who is to share this physical realm with me.

I have good days, sometimes even good weeks. Times like those, I can follow my intuition and my heart. ‘Wanna stay over at my place tonight?’ all of a sudden becomes a very plausible option. ‘Do I want to? I think I do? Okay!’

Kiss me, as therapy, or give me, butterflies, alternatively

Kiss me, as therapy, or give me, butterflies, alternatively

But then, there’s the not good days, or even weeks. All of a sudden I want to hibernate, I don’t want to see people, not even him. And if I do find a way to push myself to drop by for a moment, I come up with the lamest excuse to go home at 3.30 AM just so I don’t have to spend the night. This is already confusing to myself, let alone to someone else!

Having him in my chaos-space, in my physical realm, means things will come to light that I have always kept to myself. The sister staying at your place will mean the unseen will be seen. This does too. And so, it needs to be addressed.

Having your sister in your abusive home helps you shed some light on your situation as well. What has become normal to you, all of a sudden feels not normal. The fact you feel as though someone is intruding your personal (secret) space, the fact you WANT to hide it, already emphasises that it’s not normal to you either. Your sister may even be able to help pull an escape card.

Having a third party in my personal space helps me shed light on the fact I am still not totally at terms with my (new) (physical) self. That I am not as okay with my body as I thought I was. That it is not judgement of someone else I am fearing, but that it is the judgement I have already impeded on myself that is the abnormal here. That it’s not normal to secretly bash myself daily. Maybe having someone in this space can help me break the habit.

What it takes, though, is honesty. Soul baring honesty. Firstly, it means honestly admitting to myself that I ain’t all that okay with myself yet, not as much as I thought I was, anyway. It means admitting I still have quite some work to do. And secondly, it means being honest with my third party. About my own struggles, about my body image issues and about my mood/confidence swings. About it being internal rather than external, but still involving him in the process. Someone else is not going be the answer or the solution, but they can help shed some light and lend a helping hand at times.

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Finding body-peace

As I mentioned before, this blog seems to be slowly dying. And I’m sort of okay with that. Though the chaos in my head will never vanish, – I have accepted it is a part of who I am -, it is no longer what controls me. Chaos is a part of me, I am not a prisoner of my chaos.

Also, in recovery, I have come a long way over the past two / 2,5 years. I do not by any means consider myself recovered. I still struggle with body-image, still binge and still let how I judge my body influence how I feel and how I act too much too often. However, I can put things into perspective again. Pick up right where I left within a matter of minutes. Be spontaneous (again? was I ever before??). Laugh, dance, flirt, travel and LIVE again. And in the end, I believe all of this has made me a more complete and understanding person.

I still have a few posts in mind that I might or might not be writing in the coming future though, and today is the day I want to talk to you about (struggling with) body image. Call it what you want, right now, I’ll stick to body-peace, because acceptance sounds like something external and love sounds like something a little too overwhelming. So, peace it is. And I kinda like the sound of it. Plus, peace, in my mind, is something mutual. I am at peace with my body, but (quite miraculously after all I’ve put it through), my body is at peace with me again as well.

First of all, my picture post was partially meant as a reminder how eating disorders (or food addictions, I know you’re reading!) are about bodies. I never developed this because I wanted to lose weight. I didn’t like my sickly, skinny body. But ironically, my recovery (for a large part, anyway) wás about my body. In matter of months to  a year I doubled in weight (no, not kidding), none of my clothes fitted me anymore (I even outgrew my shoes!), my body started doing things that belonged to puberty (which had been ten years!), and everybody commented on my change in appearance. I immensely struggled with this, and I’d like to show some things that helped me along the way.

Basically, it comes down to this: Touch it. Rub it. Watch it. Dress it. Love it. Let it be loved. Lemme break it down for ya:

  • Touch : Schedule some quality bathroom time. Take a long shower or a hot bath. Wash your hair, use some really nice soapy product. Feel that soft skin, untangle your hair, let the tears flow away with that hot shower water.  Let the water cleanse physically and emotionally.
  • Rub : After getting out of the shower or your bath tub, take time to lavish yourself in crème or lotion. Gently rub every inch of your body, without judging it. Almost like a mantra : Now I am putting lotion on my legs, lotion on my bum, lotion on my tummy, lotion on my boobs, lotion on my arms, now I lotion my shoulders, my neck, lotion my face, etc. Comb your hair, spray your favourite perfume. Just take the time to feel your body without being judgmental.
  • Watch : You can already do this while showering and while lotioning. See your body for what it is, not for what it could be, should be or has been. If, like me, your body changed rapidly, it is not at all weird that your body feels foreign. Sometimes passing a mirror or a shop window would literally make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up straight. That was me?! And then I got two mirrors for in my home, both in spots I’d normally just pass. So not in the bathroom or closet door, but in my hallway and in my kitchen. Why? Because now I was confronted with my reflection more often, and more off-guard. I literally made myself get used to the confrontation, and after a while, it didn’t shock me anymore.  I would notice how different clothing made me feel and look different. I noticed some days I didn’t look all that bad. Sometimes, at night in pitch black darkness, my reflection caught a little outside-city-light and I’d notice my contours in the mirror as I’d sneak through the house naked for a midnight bathroom stop. I would see myself in all different kinds of light, literally as well as figuratively. That soft golden hour light, that harsh artificial lighting, gloomy grey day light or bright and sunny daylight. All and all, I got used to seeing myself, started to accept that reflection as mý reflection again.
  • Love : As I just mentioned, I think being gentle with yourself and non-judgemental are the first big steps. Letting your body be without focussing on what it coulda/shoulda/woulda been is not easy. Not to mention to stop comparing yourself to people you pass on the streets, on TV or in magazines. But taking it a step further, is to actively appreciate and, dare I say, love it. Now, I am not saying I am now the queen of body love (or even acceptance), but what I mean is this: When you have a ‘good day’ (which does NOT equal a ‘skinny day’ !! ), say it. Out loud. To yourself. To your reflection. When you catch yourself in the mirror and realize you don’t look all that bad today. When you catch a glimpse of your tummy/legs/arms when taking a shower and you kinda like that wet and soft skin, when you put on your new dress or check your freshly done hair/make up, tell yourself that, – damn girl! -, you look fine! You don’t have to always feel comfortable or great, but just make sure you actively state it when you do!
  • Be loved : Ooooooooo lord am I going here? Briefly! Yes. I am not saying external validation is what body love should be about. Stop comparing, stop the deadlines, stop the start-overs, stop judging. Be okay with being okay. We all know people will always have opinions, and even though they mean well most of the time, a LOT of people will be commenting on your new look as you slowly get back to a healthy weight. As I explained, most of those comments aren’t even about your new weight, but about the life and fire and stars and brightness that is coming to life in your eyes again. But there is more to letting others love your body. It is getting vulnerable, honest, naked. It is accepting someone else doing the same. It’s dead scary and exhilarating at the same time. Having someone else not run away screaming, and making myself not do so either for that matter!, was a bigger relief than I would have liked to admit. But now, I sort of see how helpful it is to have someone else confirm the fact that this (new) body is fine the way it is. That it doesn’t have to look like it did when I was 18 anymore. Because I’m not. We all change, and that is totally okay.

I think this was already a lot to take in, so I’m leaving it at this for now. But please do comment with additional tips and tricks you have found useful in this journey of self(re)acceptance. Some of the best stuff happens right below in the conversations flowing from this comment box, so share away!

Love, Sooz

Ventriloquist

Trigger warning: Nasty-ness coming right at ya

Sometimes, the best conversation is the an inner dialogue…
That doesnt quite go for this one…

Can you guys guess what this picture is?

Ventriloquist: I am my own dummy

A ventriloquist is someone who speaks through a dummy. In my case, the dummy is me. Want a zoom-out to see what I’m talking ’bout here?

Belly/Bellies

So, honestly. Did you guess it right?

No, this isn’t a ‘recovery belly’.
No, this isn’t a bloated belly.
No, this isn’t a preggo-belly.
No, this isn’t me leaning forwards.
No, this isn’t me pushing my belly out.
Actually, this is me, sucking my belly in. 

This is what led me to cry for days straight (and my mum too, I must add). And then it’s what caused a complete breakdown in a Primark fittingroom (seriously, a Primark dressingroom will cause a breakdown for anyone, let alone if this greets you in the mirror). This is the reason I have been avoiding mirrors for weeks, or is it months?, already. 

This, my dear readers, is my belly. Or, bellies, if you will

And this is why I am now dreading six weeks of Cuba. Bikini’s? No fucking way. This is why I laugh when I see other recovery bloggers post pictures of their ‘huge’ belly/arms/legs/thighs. This is what makes me remenisce my year of Asia, where I basically lived in my bikini. 

Because that is what greets me in the mirror.
Or, it greets me without a mirror too.
It’s just there… All the friggin’ time. 

Do not think I ever forget, because when I almost do, I’ll accidentally bump my arm across it. Or I get up from a chair to feel my legs jiggle. Or I sit down to feel my muffintop bump into place. Or I’ll strut down the stairs to jump at the feeling of my thighs touching. Or I see my upperarms jazzing away when I do the dishes. 

My body does not let me forget about it for a second.
Helloooo, Sooz, us flabs will gladly remind you of our presence! 

So I cry. And cry. And cry some more. 

>> How did I ever let things get this far? << 

And my answer? Ofcourse! I binge.
You gotta love some eating disorder logic!  

And still, I cannot cut back. Not even a little. We all know where ‘cutting back’ leads to? The silly thing is, I CAN cut back a little, health-wise I mean. Or start exercising (ugh..). But I don’t. I want to, but I don’t. Because I am recovering from ANOREXIA, so I should eat. And eat. And eat some more. Yeah, that’ll teach ED..  

If this makes sense to ANYONE out there, explain it to me, puh-lease!  

As long as it doesn’t yet, yeah.. I just discuss it with myself. &My belly. As the ventriloquist and her dummy. Her dumb-belly. One day, we will be famous. Until then, I leave you with one of my collegues on Youtube >>Click here<< Me, myself and my belly have long conversations. 

We are.. inseperable.
Yup, belly is here to stay

It is funny how, along the way of recovery, I thought SO MANY TIMES; OMG, I am getting so fat. And then, a few months later, I realize how silly that was. What I’d give to go back to that body

If only…  

My hipbones? MIA for months. I didnt know how much I loved them until they were covered in endless laaaayers and laaayers of fat protection. My sorta concave-looking belly? Not eventhere when I lie down and suck it in. The gap between my legs? Gone with the wind. Cheekbones? Collarbones? Ribs? Na-ah

I reached the BMI20 (almost. Some days).
>> Go buy cake and celebrate <<  

I hope this post didn’t put anyone off from recovery.

You should know I don’t exercise. Not a bit. No walking, no running, no stretching, no ‘oh so healthy’ yoga etc. Nothing. Nor do I follow a mealplan (or have I ever). Nor do I ‘eat clean’ (which, to me, is really just a way of trading one disorder for another). I am really hoping that six weeks of Cuba will at least help me get over my eating-crazyness (as I will be with someone all.the.friggin.time… Poor girl. She has no idea what she’s getting herself into). And then after that.. Maybe… I can see if there’s any activity I like doing (apart from walking to the fridge and back..). I’ve never done sports. Ever. I hate things that involve competitiveness. And things that involve sweating. (Except for sunbathing. But then I first want my old body back to strut around the beach with..). 

And also, honestly, some days, with proper clothing and covering and a happy face and good fun and not too much water retention from bingeing etc. I don’t look all that bad. And I get compliments. And I have a bum again (one that does not leave two dimples on my parents’ leather sofa where my bum-bones had rested when I ‘sat’ there). And even boobs. Thats the only wigglejiggle I like, they make me feel…. Adult-like. They’re still tiny compared to anyone else’s but at least there’s SOMETHING there, like, there’s something for a push-up to actually push úp, if that makes any sense. And my legs can fill out trousers again instead of them being snug around the waist yet slugging around the rest of my legs/thighs (not that I wear trousers, but hey, I could if I had some). And when my insomnia isn’t all that bad, I can sleep. Without night pain, without bruises from my bed, without my head planning meals and worrying about get-togethers. I can run to get my dog when she’s out on the loose again without feeling like the world will disappear beneath my feet. I can have a drink, or.. a few, without my face instanty dehydrated into some skeletal version of me with firehouse-red cheeks and getting drunk after a sip. I’m not cold 24/7 anymore, and when I am, it’s not the ‘inner-cold’, that one deep deep from within your body. I get stares on the streets for the good reasons instead of the disgust or sympathetic stares. I don’t discover random bruises on random body parts on daily basis anymore whereof I have no clue how they got there. When I go out with my friends and embaress them, it’s because of something I do or say (as WILL happen, it’s a gift) and not just from ‘being there’. My baby cousins will hug the crap out of me again, instead of staying at a safe distance. I can go traveling again, because my body will be able to get me around again, my mind can cope with the thought again and because my parents feel like they can let me again. I have my own place again, instead of being forced to move back into my parents place. I finished my year of Uni with pretty alright marks, instead of having to quit by both external and internal forces. 

My point of this post?
Yes, there is more to recovery than belly-fat.
A lot more, actually.
(There’s also leg-fat, cellulite, arm-fat…. )

There’s more life here. And less silly stress. And more opportunities. There’s so much more here

Yes, there’s still tears and frustration on a daily basis.
But I can put it into perspective differently. 

Because there is so much more I gained than just weight.