Truth be told, I have never looked in the mirror and really seen my body. I, like so many other women, look and see what I think it looks like. It’s not true that I never had a weight problem. I never had an overweight problem. I
had have a “body image problem”, an underweight problem, a…okay I have an eating disorder.
I never binge and then throw up food, nor do I think that every morsel of food that goes into my mouth is going to make me fat. I’ve only recently had it described to me as a form of OCD. My thing, that I didn’t even realize I did until last year in therapy, is that in times of stress when everything in my life seems to be going out of control, I stop eating. The only thing I can maintain any control over is what is going in to my body, so I stop putting anything into it. How fucked up is that?
For a number of months before I met Monkey Boy, I was so proud of myself for getting through each day on a glass of fruit juice and a toasted muffin with jam and cream. That was it. Oh, and the cigarettes that I chain smoked in order to conquer my appetite. I was 5’8” (173cm) and weighed 8 ¾ stone (58kg). My hip bones stuck out, my ribs were clearly visible. I fit into size 8 clothing. SIZE 8. (For you Time of Charlemagne types, this is the smallest adult dress size). I looked in the mirror and was not horrified by the skeleton before me; I saw large thighs that could use a few inches off them and a butt that was no longer pert.
I did gain weight once I was in a safe relationship. I went back to my normal size 12 and you could no longer count my ribs from across the room, but the disorder was still there. Much to my horror it remained even after I realized it existed. Apparently, knowledge of the existence of a problem doesn’t just make it go away. What’s THAT about? I was so sure that since I knew what the issue was and what the triggers for my hunger-strike were, I would just be able to recognize when I was doing it and stop.
Hmph. Seems it doesn’t work that way. Why not? is what I’d like to know. [Sidebar: yes, I have now accepted my status as a total control freak since I was angry I couldn’t control the eating disorder that manifests when I don’t have control. Help.me.]
Let’s face it; having a new baby is probably the situation in which one is going to feel the least in control, but not even breastfeeding and needing to increase my caloric intake made me able to stop. I couldn’t even make myself eat properly for the Spud. I really scratch my head and wonder why I can’t choose to exert control over this disorder with as much willpower as I clearly have to control my food intake.
When I look in the mirror at 3 months post-partum I REALLY don’t recognize the body I see. Not only have I retained 6 kilos of pregnancy weight (that’d be the éclairs) but the belly is all saggy baggy and definitely NOT about to be shown off in skimpy little midriff tops like it was when I was 30 weeks pregnant. Nor are my thighs ever going to see the light of day again. Actually, I’d prefer it if they never even saw the dark of day again: it’s just too horrendo. I think I’ll stay fully clothed at all times. I’m at the high end of the proper weight range for my height. It just seems like all that weight has now deposited itself between my navel and knees. I dislike the way my body looks now more than I’ve ever disliked it before, and I worry that not even upping the dose of Prozac [excellent OCD meds] will stop the hunger-strike returning.
Consequently, there was a moment of serendipity today when I came across a blog called Shape Of A Mother, where women can post pictures of their pregnant and post-pregnancy bellies and their stories of how their bodies changed after childbirth. If “mommy blogs” are all about telling the truth about motherhood, about “keeping it real”, then this is the ultimate in reality checks. Saggy bits, stretch marks from hell, its all there. It was a relief, a real relief to see my body in the photos posted by other women and knowing that they all look in the mirror and don’t recognize themselves either. So it’s not just me. We all look like this. This is what pregnancy does. This is what childbirth does. This is what breastfeeding does. This is the price you pay for becoming a fully-realized mammal.
I’m guessing that the price you pay for being a mother is relinquishing control.
I’m also guessing Spudly is going to teach me more than I’m going to teach him.