It’s no secret that I see a therapist on a regular basis. At the urging of a friend back in 2007, I started working with Blake. As one would expect, after seeing a shrink for that long, we’ve gone progressively deeper into some of my underlying issues. For a long time, I’ve been resistant to one topic in particular: my physical health. Now that my wedding, honeymoon, and first year of grieving over Nanny have passed, Blake has started pushing me on this important part of my overall well-being. Today was our first day, and it wasn’t pretty. First, some back-story…

Towards the end of high school and the beginning of college, because of depression and issues with my body image, I started struggling with bulimia. Although my practice of the eating disorder was short-lived, it had lasting effects on me ranging from dental issues to hair loss. Even to this day, in those moments where I detest what I see in the mirror, I’m tempted to act out. These days, at 40 pounds over what culture, websites, and doctors say would be an ideal weight for someone my height, people tend to not believe me when I share my past. Truth is, I don’t look like someone who’s ever dealt with an eating disorder… appearances can be deceiving.

After a former relationship ended back in 2008, I became obsessed. Having never been a fan of strength training, I got a gym membership for the sole sake of killing myself on the elliptical. Three to four days a week, an hour a day, wearing sweats, a hoody, and a winter cap on my head. I made it down to my “ideal weight,” and then suddenly, I stopped. I don’t really know what happened, but the desire to continue my routine had dissipated.

A few days before my trip to NY with Frankie ended, we were in Times Square making a Starbucks run. Sitting outside the door on the concrete was a woman whom I will not soon forget. Her face gaunt, her frame emaciated, her skin hanging from her bones, she was the public service announcement epitome of someone who deals with anorexia. Truth is I don’t know her story, much less her name. I don’t know if her struggle is with an eating disorder or some other illness. What I do know is that I felt a connection to her, albeit brief and superficial. In seeing her, I felt a level of fear rise within me. Cue my session with Blake.

So, why am I so resistant to being proactive about my physical health and quitting smoking? I think I’m scared of going too far again. I’m worried about disappointing people. I’m hostile to the idea of having something as simple as a vice taken away from me. I’m concerned that in the end, I’ll still feel like I’m not enough. I’m horrified that I’ll become something else that I might hate. I’m angry that I always seem to have one battle after another that needs fought.

I’m not making any decisions today. I’m not jumping to any rash conclusions. And while I’m sure that this might be an excessively vulnerable topic for some people, I still believe that there is power in voicing our fears, in opening up to others in the face of personal struggles, especially those struggles that would otherwise force us into seclusion or isolation. There’s something that happens when we start believing that we’re not alone.

~ by Michael O. on July 16, 2012.

One Response to “Extremes…”

  1. There was something about this sentence that provoked something very deep in me: “I’m hostile to the idea of having something as simple as a vice taken away from me.”

    On my own path, in my own ways, I struggled to love myself. There are vices that I have identified and easily let go of/ moved past/etc. There are others to which I have clung on with white knuckles and clenched jaws. There is something about those vices that made it easier for me to hate a part of myself . . . and hating any piece of me made it easier to escape the scary world of happiness and peace. For years I have run back into familiar welcoming whirlwinds of the world of chaos (much of which stems from my own childhood experiences, but that’s a different story). I gave up one of those particular vices this past lent. It was a vice that helped me emotionally numb myself, disconnect from life, and generally hide from the warmth and the peace that was slowly surrounding me.

    Peace was scary. Accepting the sensation of and the staying power of peace and happiness has been one of my hardest fought battles. I am thankful for my partner who has stuck by me and the friends who have supported me all along this path. I have made headway. I am learning to enjoy peace and happiness with myself, with my life, and with who I experience myself to be.

    I hope that what I’ve shared offers something profitable for you. I love you, Beautiful. Know that I am praying for you and always an open ear as you continue wrestling to love yourself.

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