It’s been a couple of weeks or so since my last post and while I am still struggling, I’m at least hopeful. I had a moment in the past week where I actually left food on my plate (say what?). Granted, it took a whole lot of talking it through in my brain to convince myself that I didn’t have to clean my plate. I wasn’t hungry anymore and the only reasons to finish it was to “not waste food”, because it tasted good, and the ever-present irrational fear that it might be the last time I could have that particular food (it was pizza… yes, vegan). That last one is a post for another day… with issues all it’s own.
I’m not consciously trying to leave food behind, but I am at least attempting to ask myself why I want to eat and make mental notes of whether I’m hungry or not. I don’t think I recognize true, physical hunger yet. Don’t even ask about “mindless eating”. That is still an issue because trying to tackle it proved to be actually painful… emotionally. I faced some heavy emotional stuff a couple of weeks ago, and my facade of a defense mechanism is still in place. I know it’s a facade, but it’s an ingrained reaction that I don’t recognize till after I’ve done it. I also realized the reason I freaked out (resulting in that last post) had a lot to do with some unsolicited and unwanted comments from a man that made me feel very uncomfortable. I went on the defensive, and I unconsciously went back to the thought of “unattractive women don’t draw unwanted attention… so I’ll be unattractive… fat is unattractive… so I’ll eat.” Of course, all kinds of women are violated (verbally, physically…etc), but I, personally, feel particularly threatened when I get attention for my appearance (especially from men). I tend to back off from being in public (yes, I hide), which generally means I don’t exercise as much and depression starts to creep in. Of course, this in turn triggers other stuff.
I think the biggest progress over the last few weeks has been realizing how often I am bombarded with thoughts of “self-image”. On some level, I knew that I beat myself up for not “looking perfect” or “being perfect”, but actually listening to the junk running through my head has been shocking. I cannot even count the number of negative thoughts I’ve had relating to my body, its size, its imperfections… or the number of times I’ve mentally called myself “fat”. You may be thinking… “well, if the shoe fits”… but I called myself “fat” even when I was rail thin, so this isn’t about the actual fat on my body. This is about trying to conform to some unattainable image that the world has set as “beautiful”. The kicker, that image never stays the same. It’s always changing, it’s fickle. Even if I could attain it for the day, it wouldn’t last. Of course, this image is also threatening to me because working toward it seems to trigger the fears I talked about in the last paragraph. I desire to look good… and yet I fear it at the same time. It’s a merry-go-round that drives me crazy. Both of these seem to work toward the same goal… keeping me focused on the wrong things. What a waste of precious time!
Another area of progress is recognizing all the times I think about dieting… and it’s a lot. It comes up constantly.
“Don’t eat that.”
“In fact, don’t eat at all.”
“You will never lose this weight without a diet plan.”
“Listening to your body? Are you crazy? You can’t trust yourself.”
“If God is all-powerful, why doesn’t He just heal this part of you already?”
Yes, the mind can be a battlefield alright. The doubts, the fears… it’s exhausting, but I don’t want to “go on another diet”. I truly hate them… So, in the last few weeks I’ve shouted, “NO!” countless times to the thought of dieting… and yet it keeps coming up… over and over. I’m asking God to help me recognize these negative thoughts and to combat them with His Truth. I’ve run after the world’s idea of “fixing things” when it comes to weight and body image, and it’s temporal. I’m going to try allowing God to heal me for a change, which means I have to stop getting in the way… stop trying to “fix myself by myself”. Yes, this approach may take some time, especially since some of these issues are rooted so deep and go back decades for me, but I do believe things are already improving. I do see progress. I see it in how quickly my mind shifts from those thoughts now. I’m hopeful that the next step will be longer stints without even thinking about dieting, or food, or weight.