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My body reclamation journey

Guest Author: Chelsea

This content contains explicit and sensitive information that may not be suitable for all ages.

When my first boyfriend grabbed a handful of my stomach and told me I was fat, it was like a bomb going off inside me. My weight was a struggle from the moment I became aware that society used it to measure my worth, and in that fist of pudge, he confirmed my worst fear: I was right to hate what I saw every time I looked in the mirror.

Funny enough, the bulimia and anorexia that followed weren’t purposeful “weight loss tools,” but side-effects of the overwhelming anxiety I experienced whenever I thought about what other girls he must be pursuing. I was so consistently anxious that I couldn’t keep food down. Eventually it got so bad, I couldn’t eat at all. My weight dropped so low that each of my ribs could be visibly counted. It was then he declared I was too skinny, and too skinny was just as gross as being too fat. When I looked in the mirror, I realized how thin I’d actually become and realized that didn’t make me happy, either.

In that fist of pudge, he confirmed my worst fear

Instead of leaving what was clearly not a relationship based on love, I stayed for four years until he left me for another woman. And instead of being as righteously pissed as I should have been, I begged him to stay. He didn’t, and I moved on much quicker than I should have. As soon as I knew someone was interested in me, I was on board. And I really did like the guy. I thought I even loved him. He was good to me and loyal and I started pushing plans for the future almost right away. I saw no potential for being rejected, so it was probably the best I could ever hope for.

Then I started packing on weight. Without the fear of my partner stepping outside of our relationship, I started cramming food in my mouth to make up for all the lost meals. It took me a long time to realize that only my behaviour was changing, and I was eating because I was unhappy with my life. I’d committed to go to school for a job I didn’t truly want to do. The voice in the back of my head was still whispering that I was unworthy of good things, and, ultimately, I couldn’t cope with the guilt of jumping into a relationship with a great person I couldn’t properly love. So I filled myself until I hit 250 pounds. And if I hadn’t known real self-loathing before then, I quickly became well-acquainted with it. I felt like I’d become so huge that no amount of exercise could possibly help. Plus, I didn’t want to give up the food I was blissing out on. The only solution I could think of was what helped me drop weight so easily in school. I started throwing up after every meal, this time on purpose.

I lived like this for about eight years. Eventually, I became sick with some pretty gnarly thyroid issues, which was enough to scare me into cutting gluten and dairy out of my diet and starting to exercise. About nine months later, though, fifty pounds lost wasn’t enough to make me happy. I hadn’t fixed my job situation. I certainly hadn’t fixed the hating-myself situation. I had, however, rediscovered my love for spirituality and Wicca. I believe that this is what helped me reach a turning point. I dabbled in energy healing and psychic development circles, and the deep inner work I did there brought me to a point where I felt strong enough to leave the relationship. I can’t lie, I still feel guilty about it. But I think he’s forgiven me and we say hello every once in awhile.

I’m actually enjoying getting to know myself.

My body reclamation journey began two years ago with my first tattoo. I’ve always wanted one, but was too afraid. I’d spent too much time feeling totally separated from my body, and not only did the pain bring me back into it, but I actually loved something about my skin for the first time ever. I definitely still struggle with bulimia even as I write this. But I now experience longer periods of eating well, exercising, and refraining from sticking a toothbrush down my throat. I’ve been single for the longest span since I started dating, and I’m actually enjoying getting to know myself. I’m also seeing an eating disorder counsellor who is seriously amazing, and have covered about half of both my arms with tattoos that empower the shit out of me. I want to love myself, and I feel like I’m closer to that now than I’ve ever been in the past thirty years. I do certainly consider myself sick, still, but I am anything but weak.

Comments

DHead
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Get em. Purposeful ink rocks. You run this world.

Stephen
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Keep going! Thanks for sharing and for the encouragement. I have problems keeping food down as well. I lift weight and eat two protein shakes/ meal replacements a day, but just eating a bit of food is very difficult. My issue is self-medicating using alcohol. Trying to get myself to go to an AA meeting.

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