One of my biggest fears was the mirror. Not spectrophobia per se, but fear of my own reflection. The mirror was also one of my biggest triggers. I used to stand there staring at my reflection for hours, crying like a baby. All I could see was imperfection. I didn’t see what others saw. I didn’t see an emaciated human being. I can’t explain why, but no matter how much weight I lost, I never thought I was skinny enough. Body dysmorphia is some crazy stuff, y’all.
If you read I Wanna Get Better, then you know that I got rid of my body-length mirror along with my scale a few months ago. So glad I did. I needed to separate that part of myself. I highly recommend doing so, no matter where you are in recovery. Even you don’t have an eating disorder or body image issue, I would recommend going on a mirror and/or scale hiatus. I think it’s important to learn to rely on inner confidence rather than the aesthetic.
So, for quite some time I was completely oblivious as to what I looked like from the waist down, except for a vague idea from pictures. I had to trust my loving mother when she told me which shoes to wear with my outfit. Looking in the mirror was a major no-no. I knew I was gaining weight—that’s usually what happens when you recover from a restrictive eating disorder—but I wasn’t ready to face it.
Time goes on. This is working pretty well. Then January rolls around and I decide to be in a pageant. And I have to try on dresses…and see how they fit…from head to toe…ay yi yi.
Now I must be honest. I was both intimidated and eager about finally looking into a mirror again and seeing my whole self. While I threw out the scale for good, I did hope to be able to look into a mirror again someday. “Maybe I’m ready,” I thought. “Maybe it’s now or never.” I had to trust that I was strong enough in my recovery to handle something so…daunting. So I put on one of the dresses, said a little prayer, took a breath, and looked into the mirror.
Part of me wanted to focus on my perceived flaws just like before, but then I remembered, “Look at the whole person. You are not a stomach or a pair of thighs.” I smiled. I could see the difference. I’m a little fuller than before. Taking up a little more space. But is that such a bad thing? One of my favorite books is Eat, Pray, Love by Liz Gilbert. I wrote this quote in my journal back when I was reading it:
“I came to Italy pinched and thin. I did not yet know what I deserved. I still maybe don’t fully know what I deserve. But I do know that I have collected myself of late . . . into somebody much more intact. The easiest, most fundamentally human way to say it is that I have put on weight. I exist now more than I did. . . And I leave with the hope that the expansion of one person—the magnification of one life—is indeed an act of worth in this world. Even if that life, just this one time, happens to be nobody’s but my own.”
Yes, I look very different now. A little bit bigger…and a whole lot better. My eyes, my face, my skin…it all seems to glow. I don’t see desperation in myself anymore. I see life and health. I see a reconstructed Annie.
(I need an idea for Wildcard Wednesday! Send me your suggestions.)