Trauma, Depression, and Body Image

I bought a new journal. I purchased this journal to write down all the things I am trying to process and understand. I am trying to work through several things simultaneously. It is a lovely lined journal, a beautiful shade of maroon. And I think that I have begun to be afraid of it.

I take it out with the intention of writing. I get out my favorite pen. I even go so far as to open it and put the pen on the paper. Then I put the pen down and close the journal. It has become too much, too many feelings, too much fear.

One of the things that I am struggling with at the moment is my relationship with food. When you are overweight, there is some sort of misconception that you are lazy or lack the will power to eat well. For most people, this is an urban myth.

For me, it all began with rebellion. If I gained any weight, I received very harsh punishment. It was one of the only ways I had to assert any control in my world. I also found that when I was heavy, the boys ignored me. Invisibility was a form of safety I craved. I could move through the world and only be as visible as I wanted to be. Or at least this was my plan. I never pulled off being as invisible as I wanted to be.

Another problem with being heavy is that people don’t associate eating disorders with fat people. I have had issues with food for years. I will eat the wrong things and sometimes during this period overeat. Then I will go for days and even weeks, barely eating anything. This way of eating lasts until someone notices that I am not eating. Then I have to start eating again.

I started to do Weight Watchers, not so much for the weight loss as for the tracking. This way, I write down what I am eating, and I receive feedback through the points. I struggle to eat enough points rather than the opposite. That I struggle to eat enough is not believable to many people when they look at me. They think quite the opposite.

The thing with losing weight when it has been my defense for so long is that I feel unsafe as I lose weight. The plan is to go slow. Lose some and then learn to feel safe at that weight and then continue. It means that it will be a little longer before I can get my heart fixed. I think that it is worth it.

There is an important aspect I need to work with and understand, and that is my eating can be as much of a way to control my surroundings as not eating. This need to learn about control is where the journaling comes in. I am trying to understand my needs and find healthy ways to meet those needs. What feelings and fears are coming up as I lose weight? What helps to mitigate that lack of control? How am I self-harming through food? OR what am I trying to numb? All good questions that I am trying to answer. It is easy to say that I want to lose weight so that I can be healthy. I want to know why I am so scared to be thin, and also that it is also okay to leave that identity behind and embrace the strong and often willful woman who survived such intense horrors to turn out to be a loving person.

There are already so many writers and bloggers who talk about the cruelty of people towards anyone overweight. I won’t go into that here. I will say that it is hard to live in a world where people jump to conclusions about you based on your appearance.

I am grateful that my husband saw something different when he looked at me. I met him at work. I worked as a temp and would bring a book to work with me to read during my breaks. I was sitting at lunch reading with the book well and truly up in front of my face. He sat down and started talking. He spoke until I put the book down and then started asking questions so I couldn’t put the book back up. He said that I looked like the most interesting person in the room because of that book. We are still talking, and he still interrupts my reading to talk thirty-four years later.

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