In the first part of this post, I talked about how, at the beginning of my recovery, I wrote down all my fears on paper scraps and kept them in a box, which I placed at the feet of Our Lord. I have now opened that box and assessed whether those fears have come true or not, and how I see them from my current perspective as a newly weight restored person.
Let’s tackle the 7 fears we had left!
“That others will think I looked better when I was anorexic”
I felt so embarrassed when I imagined others could think why on earth I’d gained weight, if I looked better before. That they could compare photos and prefer the “before”.
First of all, what others think shouldn’t matter to you at all, especially because people have been brainwashed with stupid beauty standards which normalize what’s sick.
But, in addition, that’s not what has happened, no one thinks that. Maybe because it’s not only about an increase of the volume of your body, but your skin gets better, your hair turns silkier and thick, your nails get stronger, your eyes shine more, and you radiate more energy and vitality. Objectively, the healthier you are, the more beautiful you look.
It’s true that, at the point I am, this fear has come to me again, because now nobody seems to think that I need to keep gaining weight, except for doctors. Everyone takes for granted that I’m fine physically. But hey, I know I still have room to improve and, if this method has worked for me so far, why wouldn’t it keep being like that?
VERDICT: it hasn’t come true. And if someone thinks that, they’re an idiot.
“That everything will be the same but I’ll just be fatter”
I projected my situation at the moment towards the future… Everyone was telling me that mental recovery would follow physical recovery, and I’d see things differently, but, what if it wasn’t like that? I used to imagine a future in which I still saw myself ugly in the mirror, felt fat, fought non-stoppingly against my mind, was yelled at by the ED voice, had breakdowns at meals, compared myself to everyone around me obsessively, etc. But, to add insult to injury, everything would be much worse since I’d be fatter and therefore would suffer more.
Not at all. Those who tried to calm me down were right. Mental recovery has been slower, more intricate, complicated and painful, but little by little it’s settled. It seems completely counterintuitive, but when you weigh more you see yourself better, you feel better, some thoughts go away, the volume and frequency of others decreases a lot, you get more confidence, you’re happier. Because the mind heals, even at a physical level, it was malnourished and that’s why you couldn’t think straight. And because surrender and trust let Jesus act in you and break the chains of the devil.
VERDICT: proven false. Everything is much better.
“That I won’t look like the models”
Models defined for me the paradigm of beauty, the supreme ideal. And I knew most of them weren’t at a healthy weight, so, if I was forced to reach that instead of settling a little under, I’d obviously weigh more than them, and I’d drift away from that ideal.
Something that helped me a lot to combat this was finding out other types of “models”, different types of women with healthy weights who had wonderful and desirable bodies. The fitness community at instagram was a great source of inspiration. You have to be careful, since there’s also unhealthy people there, but generally speaking it’s a much more positive environment than that of the models. Now I pity them because I know they aren’t letting themselves reach their full potential.
VERDICT: we could say it’s true. But it’s a positive thing.
“Going a size up”
More than a fear, this was a certainty; what I didn’t know was whether I’d be able to cope with it or it would be too psychologically overwhelming. I had the idea that sizes weren’t just arranged from smaller to larger, but from better to worse.
I was strong enough when the moment came, of course, the Lord always gives you the grace you need. Now I understand that the best size is the one that best fits your best body. It’s not about changing your body so it fits into the “best” size, but about seeking your best body, and then finding out what’s the best size for you. It’s about being confident in your own body and not looking for external validation from a number.
VERDICT: it’s become real, and that’s great!
“Not having a flat stomach”
At the beginning of recovery, all the weight seemed to go straight to the tummy and concentrate there in a disproportionate way. This is partly obsession and body dysmorphia, but it’s partly real, normal and… it goes away!
Indeed, it’s often where the weight goes first, because it’s an area where we have several vital organs that are in need of a recovering layer to protect themselves. So you look disproportionate, but not because you have a large belly, but because the rest of the body is too skinny. In addition, since you’re suddenly eating a lot more, the body isn’t used to processing those amounts and you get more bloated.
As time goes by, everything reaches its balance, the weight redistributes and the belly ceases to be prominent. In fact, I now have abs and I didn’t have them before, because at the end of the day they’re a muscle that needs food to grow. If it doesn’t have it, no matter how thin you are, you’re never going to see them.
VERDICT: false. It’s something that gets worse at first, but then gets better.
“Not having a tight gap”
The tight gap is the space between your tights, and it’s become the indicator of thinness par excellence, which every person obsessed with thinness looks for and shows off as a trophy.
Whether you have it or not at a healthy weight is going to depend on your genetic structure. I have a small one, although now it’s much narrower than when I was underweight, and in fact it disappears in some positions.
And, when I’m walking, many times my legs rub, but I don’t even realize anymore; in fact, now that I’m writing it I remember how much that used to bother me and make me feel like shit, and now I had forgotten about it until this moment. I don’t even notice it anymore. It’s normal. Feel proud of it.
VERDICT: it isn’t totally true for me right now and, above all, it’s lost its relevance completely.
“Being a glutton”
I used to pride myself on my self-discipline, on being able to resist the pleasures of food that everyone else succumbed to. It was a false illusion of self-control, since the truth was that I was controlled by the ED. But I was afraid to become a “pig”, an earthly person addicted to food. I found the thought of ending up like that repulsive.
But I’ve learned to respect hunger as a normal physiological reaction of my body, to not judge my hunger signals and to honor them as much as possible. That is, I acknowledge my body signals, and it’s in my power whether to act consequently or not, but since I’m responsible and I know I must take care of it and nourish it right, I voluntarily choose to respond to them most of the time.
VERDICT: it was false. Now I’m truly in control. I don’t “give in”: I decide.
I know how hard it is to trust when you’re in the first stages of recovery and your fears seem absolutely real and unavoidable. You see how horrible the present is, and you believe the future is going to be like this or worse. You think everyone around you is lying and they just want you to gain weight.
But I insist again, trust. Do it scared, but do it. Choose recovery every day, even when it’s excruciatingly painful. Have hope. “Wait for the Lord, take courage; be stouthearted, wait for the Lord!” (Psalm 27, 14).