Well, I was NOT expecting that!
I received a lot of unanticipated feedback for the post that I wrote on how to support your friends who are going into a pregnancy with a history of eating disorders. While I’m grateful that my words were supportive to a large number of you, it broke my heart. My journey was (and is) a difficult one, and not something that I would wish on my worst enemy.
Granted, I don’t really have enemies. People in general tend to like me, for some reason or another. shrug
However, in light of how many women have reached out to me since the last post, I wanted to keep the conversation going. The thing that I have found that is the most helpful to me personally in my ED journey, is being open. Shining a light into the dark corners of what it is that I struggle with on the daily. So… here we go.
I’m still hyper-critical of my body.
Yes, it’s true. Even your friendly neighborhood Jess still stands in front of the mirror every day and mentally tracks everything I wish I could change. I know my body has done an amazing thing in growing my children, and making food for them. I know that I only gave birth 3 months ago, and that expecting me to already look exactly like I did before I was pregnant is unreasonable. I’m well-aware that I’m being hard on me… but it still happens. Trying to not be so critical of me leads to a guilt-trap in which I feel guilty for even having negative thoughts in the first place, which only feeds the urge to do something not-so-great in order to take control of my mind/body. It’s a fun little Cycle of Suck that I go through, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one.
Well, that’s not at all great and inspiring.
Not even a little. But mine isn’t a story of darkness. I’ve learned that pretending that something that I don’t like doesn’t exist only magnifies the issue. Whether it’s car trouble or my self-esteem, ignoring a problem doesn’t make it magically go away. On the contrary, it tends to make things way worse.
Ask me about the bill for my last round of car repairs.
So… I acknowledge the cycle. I give myself 20 seconds each day to look in the mirror alone, and be honest with me about how I feel about what I see. Once those 20 seconds are over, I’m done. The Cycle of Suck is still there, but acknowledging that it exists takes away the power that it has over me. The cycle will always be there, but this way I get to control it, and not the other way around.
Why do you do that? Why not just try to squish the damn thing?
I did try to squish the damn thing. It went… poorly. As I’ve said before, eating disorders aren’t like catching a cold. You don’t wake up one morning all better, and get to go about your life as though you were never sick. This is a life-long struggle, and I have good days and bad days. Acknowledging the Cycle of Suck is part of how I manage the cycle in the first place. It’s what works for me, so it’s what I’m going to do.
HOWEVER: I do not engage the cycle in front of my kids. Not openly, while they’re so young. When they’re a little older, I will tell them more about my history with eating disorders, and what led to my struggle. But that talk is for when they are old enough to understand what is going on, and why.
What do I do?
I love me. And I talk about it. I love the strong legs that result in larger thighs than I’d like. I love the butt that provides a comfy place for me to sit, even if the jeans I used to love don’t fit around it. And I really love the mid-section that housed and grew two of the best humans on the planet, even though it isn’t a taut, flat, stereotypical “dance teacher” stomach.
This really works for you?
Yes. That does not mean that my method of dealing with the Cycle of Suck works for everyone, but as I’ve said before: this is my journey, I’m simply letting you know how I choose to go through it. It’s what works for me, so it’s what I will continue to do. I would rather my children have a mom who is doing what she has to in order to manage her symptoms, than a mom who tries to pretend that they don’t exist, and passes them onto her beloveds.
Because… that’s what happens when you don’t acknowledge and encounter bad cycles. They continue, and then someone else suffers. “Family curses” aren’t just for Shakespearean plays, and I REFUSE to be the reason that one of my children takes a step down the eating disorder path.