Punishment VS. Forgiveness: Battling A Negative Self Image. #Mission Beautiful

I've struggled with body image as far back as the age of 10 years old. That was the first school year that the girl's in my Phys. Ed class teased me for having a "tire roll". This is merely one example from a lifetime of hurtful scenarios, too many to name in this short article. I look back at photos from that age now and actually laugh. There really was no "tire roll" and if they had left me alone I probably would have thinned out naturally on my next growth spurt. Instead I went into a spiral of starving and binging that has literally lasted nearly 30 years. There I said it out loud for the entire cyber village to read.  Yes, I have had an eating disorder for that long.  It can go into hiding for days, months, years. Then rears it's ugly head, usually when I am most vulnerable.  If I inserted some else's name into my life story and pretended it was a friend that was pouring her heart out to me, I would have reacted much differently.  I would have given a her big bear hug, encouraged her that life could only get better, and that 'fat' can be changed-pretty girls with ugly attitudes would always be ugly.  Instead I seemed to make it my life's mission to make my life as pleasure-free, guilt ridden and lonely as possible.  Choosing a life a self-punishment.

I am airing my dirty laundry in public because I am tired of having secrets.  This secret doesn't protect anyone, instead it only produces a 'safe' place for lies to build up.  I'm tired of being afraid- that people are laughing at my jiggly butt as I walk away- that I'm never going to get a handle on this obsession with food- that my daughter will copy me and live a lifetime of this vicious cycle of starving, guilt, binging, guilt, and starving again.  This present way of life is fruitless.  Wanting to be a good role model for my daughter has changed everything.  Overcoming something this big is not easy to do alone.  Way back in April I was inspired by Jodie from Mommy Moment and her Mission Beautiful  Post-it initiative.  I took her challenges, encouragement, and advice to heart.  I wrote about the beginning stages of my journey into Mission Beautiful.  And here is how I have continued to change in the last  five months.

Stop the broken record .
I used to punish myself with negative thoughts and mean words. Making a conscious effort to STOP this behaviour was just the beginning of change.

Insert positivity.
What do you you do when your normal way of life must be changed?  I knew I needed to find a new thought pattern fast, to keep from falling back on the old ways of coping.  The post-it challenge seemed silly at first, but it really made a difference in the end. Starting the day with a smile and a little self-love got easier over time.

Honour yourself.
No I didn't build a shrine to AMY in our home...but I did start to buy clothes that fit my post baby body.  When my self-esteem is at it's lowest I tend to cover myself in ill-fitting clothes and could go six or more months without a hair cut or grooming.  I have punished myself terribly for these last two years based on my disgust for the numbers on my digital scale.  See I had only gained 30 pounds while pregnant, and the weight had dropped off within 4 weeks after birth and breast-feeding.  12 months of Depression meds and being home aided in packing on almost 50 pounds.  Since April I have dropped 20 pounds, though I'm not entirely sure how, other than the fact that I am happier.

Embrace relationships.
I have been fiercely independent my entire life. This has brought much frustration and tension to relationships with my friends and family. Frequently accused of being snobbish, cold, and distant- I am just the opposite- warm, friendly and kind to others.  At times, terribly protective of my own warped way of coping, hiding an eating disorder, and afraid of not being accepted for who I really am on the inside. All these things are a way of punishing myself even more-by pushing away from people that care about me and want to give me what I need most-love and acceptance.

Forgive yourself and others.
Merriam Webster says this:
Definition of FORGIVE
transitive verb
1a : to give up resentment of or claim to requital for
1b : to grant relief from payment of
2: to cease to feel resentment against (an offender) : pardon
Definition of FORGIVING
1: willing or able to forgive2: allowing room for error or weakness 

Last Spring I had a light bulb moment during a Young Adults Bible study at my church.  The discussion was centered around forgiveness.  I had a thought that illuminated my entire heart and mind.  Forgiveness is not meant to only benefit your offenders and offer them a free pass to pardon.  Forgiveness is about letting go of the hurts that have been inflicted against your person. That can be easier said then done.  "Allowing room for error or weakness" in your own life and "ceasing to feel resentment against" your offenders will change your world.


Resources:

Directory for Eating Disorder Support Canadian Drug Rehab Site. 


Eating Disorders. Article from Canadian Mental Health Association




*I am not a physician, this post is inspired by my own experiences and not meant to replace professional advice.
*Quotes extracted from Merriam Webster Online Dictionary (09/19/11).

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