“As I get older I find more to appreciate and less to dislike. I can now look at my eating disorder as a blot on the periphery of how I feel about my body rather than a significant feature.”

*Trigger warning for bulimia*

The story of my body is a turbulent one. Like most it’s a constant stream of ups and downs. And to me when you say ‘body’ it translates as ‘weight’. I know for many people it will be the same and it’s quite sad that’s where our minds jump to. So let’s start at the beginning: for most of my childhood I was big, tall and clumsy. Being taller than boys in your class is off-putting and very noticeable; this is where I think my ideas of being bigger began, because I was. I just felt like a big lumbering presence. Then I stopped growing but still held this idea of being ‘big’, of taking up too much space. My weight fluctuated in my teens culminating with an intense and aggressive eating disorder until my early 20s. Sure, the latter – Bulimia – has had the most obvious effect on my relationship with my body but it doesn’t define it. I was lucky though; I got out pretty unscathed – I have been in recovery for 3 and half years and am a mostly happy and healthy size 12. Although there has been lasting damage to my teeth, stomach and heart. That in itself is like a medal of how close I came to the edge and managed to pull myself back. Being ill to that extent makes you glad of what you have, of energy, and having an actual appetite for life. Post-recovery your body becomes a vessel for living rather than harming yourself and you can’t help but view it with slight awe. You have pushed it to the edge and it has weathered the storm. Ok, you may have been battered and bruised along the way but it keeps going on and fighting to keep you here. Even with all this it’s sad to say there will always be a tiny whisper in my head telling me nothing tastes as good as thin feels. It is a shame but I can deal with it. I’ve been through worse.

Now though I just don’t have the stamina to really deprive and hurt myself. If I hate myself at size 8 with a constant cycle of fasts and binges why not just pack it in and still hate yourself but eat what you like and be a size 12? This strange philosophy worked for me and slowly you learn to accept and even gradually like yourself. As I get older I find more to appreciate and less to dislike. I can now look at my eating disorder as a blot on the periphery of how I feel about my body rather than a significant feature. Although, food and my body will always be intrinsically linked to me now – I can’t think of one without the other – it doesn’t inhibit my life or perception. It is perception that matters most to me now. How I perceive something may be far off from the truth. So I go by how my clothes feel rather than the scales and I don’t eat foods that make me bloated and uncomfortable. Like most relationships the one with my body is fluid and I just try and understand that my body is as turbulent as my feelings towards it. It changes from day to day, as much as my own impressions about it do. Sometimes we may go in the same direction other times there will be a clash. Either way I’m quite happy for any negativity to take a back seat most of the time and let me get on with life.

by an anonymous woman, 24

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