Full-Bodied Women & Disowned Parts

To my nutritionist, AKA my Fairy Godmother:

Well, FG, I’ll have you know that I’m glowing. Without weighing myself, I know my weight has restored, with the help of midnight snacking (and lots of it; multiple jars of nut butter have been consumed, consciously, and I’m fine with that), sleeping, daily writing of a body healing affirmation that I shall spell out in a moment, daily Al Anon meetings yielding honesty and accountability, and, as life would have it, dating. Perhaps the dating is a result. Or perhaps they’re symbiotic. Regardless, both are happening.

Like I said, I have not weighed myself since I called you and you said to let my clothing be a barometer: thank god for that. I started noticing changes in my body about 2 weeks ago and was so tempted to weigh myself for affirmation, but instead I went to an Al Anon meeting and shared a nice revelation:

“Nobody, not even a scale or a nutritionist (you), can tell me that I am done gaining weight or that my body is done healing. Only my body and my higher power can tell me that, and accepting that is a challenge.”

Most nutritionists, those who are not you, would insist that they are experts on my body. Together you and I could name a few. But in my recovery, both from my E.D. and in Al Anon, as well as in my yoga practice, I have come to learn that I am the expert on my body. In fact, a mentor of mine in my yoga practice begins every class with the following: “I only have one rule, and that’s that you are the expert on your body.”

“I only have one rule: You are the expert on your body.” (Anonymous)

Anyhow. My clothes have been a lovely barometer of weight gain: so have my newfound strength and the disappearance of my thigh gap. And get this: I’m happy about it. I actually love the brush of my two thighs. It makes me feel like a woman. And I think I’m ready to accept that. I think I’m ready to enter, as you told me back in January, the wonderful world of being a human.

My high metabolism and my “refeeding belly” have served as barometers, as well. Both are parts of the process that I know will change. I’m embracing them as reflections of my healing. Isn’t it amazing that I can look at them like that, rather than the way I used to look at them?

As far as the affirmation I’ve been repeating, here it is:

I am proactively healing my body. I am creating a healthy body. My weight is normalizing. I now release all blocks that prevent me from having and maintaining a healthy body, and I am restored to balance.

It’s an extension of the affirmation work and image-making meditation I began after my visit with you in January. (Your partner / my loving therapist) told me to write it 25 times a day for 28 days to affirm healthy, lasting change, so I have been. I will let the above serve as today’s first repetition.

She said if I miss a day, I have to start all over. She did not invent this protocol: someone else did. A little dangerous for my black-and-white thinking, but I’ve been fine. I haven’t gotten triggered yet. I did try to add 4 more affirmations, once I realized how effective this practice was, but it quickly became unmanageable, so I took your old advice and kept it simple, “eating one bite at a time.” This body affirmation is my first bite; these other affirmations can come later.

I’ve committed to the practice and have not missed a day. Today is 14 of 28: halfway there! And my weight has restored. Perhaps by the end, my “belly fat” (which is minor) will have redistributed, or at least turned into muscle: emphasis on the part of the affirmation that says, my weight is normalizing.

I’m glad I chose those words instead of “my weight is restoring.” I’m also glad I’m sticking to the full 28 days instead of stopping halfway. I need to maintain my recovery.

Speaking of maintaining my recovery, I have a new development: it was brought to my attention in a recent Al Anon meeting–during which I shared about my current weight gain–that I ought to try “Anorexics and Bulimics Anonymous.” I said, “I want to, but I’m scared.”

I’ve realized, FG, that my eating disorder, like my sexuality, is a disowned part of myself. It’s a part of my identity I’ve neglected to fully embrace.

My eating disorder, like my sexuality, is a disowned part of myself. It’s a part of my identity I have yet to embrace.

Why am I afraid of eating disorder rooms? Because I’m afraid of eating disorders, that’s why.

I’m afraid of my eating disorder being mean to me. I’m afraid of waking it up. But it’s fruitless to fear what is already happening.

My eating disorder is being mean, as is. It’s the thing that’s keeping me from those rooms. It’s saying tome,

“Bella, you don’t belong in those rooms. You don’t deserve to be there. Those rooms are people who have an eating disorder. Strong people. Not you. Look at yourself. Your eating disorder is gone. Get yourself a new one, and then you’ll belong.”

For God’s sake, didn’t I almost die from an eating disorder? Isn’t that enough to qualify? Of course it is. But stupid Rex (that’s what I call her) says–is saying–, “Nobody in those rooms will believe that you belong there.”

AAAH! Fuck you, Rex, fuck you!! With two exclamation points, god dammit! I hate you. I hate you so. Damn. Much! But I am also owning you. I am owning you 100%. I belong in those eating disorder recovery rooms, and you can’t stop me, you stupid bitch.

So here I go, FG! Off into the wild blue yonder of this new recovery chapter.

I went to two Al Anon meetings yesterday: pretty cool, right? I even chaired the first one: a new milestone! Anyway. A newcomer in the second meeting said, “This is my third meeting in about that many years. Because you think you can do it alone, right? Yeah. You can’t. Anyway, grateful to be here.”

Because you think you can do it alone, right? Yeah. You can’t. (Anonymous)

I’ve been depending on myself for my eating disorder recovery. And yes, I have made strides. I don’t want to take any credit away from myself. But this person is right: I can’t maintain it alone. I’m going to take their advice and find a community.

What’s the worst that can happen? The meeting is toxic, and I walk out? It’s not like I have to share. It’s not like I have to take responsibility for anyone else in there. The meetings are anonymous for a reason. I don’t need anybody to validate my eating disorder, my story, or my level of qualification.

I’ve been making excuse after excuse about why I won’t go to meetings, judging them before I’ve even been, and you know what? It’s bullshit. I am the obstacle, I am the problem.

I need more help than just Al Anon meetings. Al Anon is a disease of relationships. It’s a disease of codependency. It’s a disease that I have, and yet it is not the only disease that I have and thus can’t be my only source of help.

I qualify for four 12-step meetings, believe it or not: Al Anon, Debtors Anonymous (I may be young, but I have my issues with money–and more so with fear of success), Overeaters Anonymous, and Anorexics/Bulimics Anonymous (or EDA). Factor in repressed sexuality and that’s five: five “things” I need support around. Isn’t that too many? How could attending 5 different meetings possibly be “keeping it simple?”

I’ve been telling myself that it’s okay to talk about my eating disorder in Al Anon meetings because the two diseases to hand-in-hand, but do they really? Maybe they do, as far as my well-being is concerned, but what about the wellbeing of others in the room? I’m violating a boundary of the Al Anon groups when I talk about a different part of my recovery. I need to respect the group parameters and stop “going to the hardware store for oranges,” an Al Anon anecdote I hear quite often.

Now there’s the co-dependency. There’s the disease of relationships. There’s my trusty Al Anon. I don’t just tangle up my relationships with people, but I tangle my “diseases” as well. I can talk about that phenomenon in Al Anon, but the ins and outs of eating disorder recovery, the ins and outs of food choices and weight gain, those have their own time and place. Look at me, FG, discovering the boundaries! That’s a healthy sign.

I have multiple needs that come from multiple places. I can’t feed myself by sleeping and I can’t “sleep myself” by eating. And yet, requiring food and sleep would not be considered “too much.” You can keep things simple when you keep things in their place.

So that’s where I am: coming to terms with the disowned parts of myself, which are my eating disorder and my sexuality (which you already know). I returned to my very first Al Anon meeting on Friday, the one I attended on June 1st. The one I called you immediately to gush about, which you said sounded like “the best thing since ice cream.”

Get this: it’s a lesbian meeting. And it was my intro to the program. Not a coincidence. And I emerged glowing, too. The person I met up with afterward (who thought I was in a study group) said, “wow, you’re glowing!”

And yet, I never went back.

Bella, Bella, Bella…that is something to look at.

My feet carried me there on Friday night. It was completely unintentional. I had finished a long day of job interviews for the upcoming school year and eaten a large and early dinner. I then felt lost, and considered going home to deep clean my room. Instead, my feet carried me to the YMCA on Bowery just in time for the 6:30 meeting.

The second I entered I got chills and I cried. I cried the entire time. I felt palpable connection with every woman around me and I. Was. Terrified.

No, no, no – this can’t be – I cannot be a lesbian.

Would you believe that? Would you believe this denial? I am in a new relationship, and yet I still don’t accept myself.

Don’t you just love the synchronicity of it all? I restore my weight and find myself back in a meeting for lesbian women all in the same week? Emphasis on women. There were full-bodied women, and I felt that I was one of them.

They shared about the impacts of their emotions on their bodies. The shares were so resonant I continued to cry. I cried my way into the “burning desire” category. My share was the single “burning desire” of the night. “Keep coming back!”, they all said. I will. For real this time. I will.

It felt simultaneously like a bottom and a miracle. Which is precisely what it was! It was a miraculous bottom, the kind of bottom that is necessary to send you back up, to make you fly. And here I am, flying! You can’t see me right now, but I assure you I am.

Thanks for waving your magic wand for me.

All my love,

Bella

This post is dedicated to one of the most important women in my life. Lord knows where I would be without her. Fairy godmothers do in fact exist.

In closing, I would like to say that the opinions expressed here are entirely my own and may not resonate with everyone; take what you like and leave the rest. If you liked what you read here, I invite you to share it, as these messages are for all.

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