Being a lifelong dieter I can’t tell you how hard it has been for me to keep going on this road to “normal” eating. Every time I ate something without thinking, something considered bad or an item of clothing felt tight, my mind was telling me to go back to dieting. I kept reading the reviews of the latest “last diet ever” book and scanned the newspapers for articles that would lead me to the holy grail: the diet that would work without effort, without me changing anything, and suddenly everything would be all right in the world. It was hard, so hard, for me to drop these habits, to change, to accept.
But now I think I am getting there. I am not “cured” (I think I’ll always be a dieter inside but trying to ignore that nagging voice) but I am feeling more comfortable, both physically but probably more important mentally and emotionally. I think I have managed, most of the time, to put food in its place, to not obsess, to think about other more important things but like many people who have given up smoking there is always a temptation, a pull back towards these habits, these behaviours that have filled so much of my adult life. I think I will have to continue being vigilant, maybe forever, but I can live with that as it’s such a watered-down version of what I have been doing.
I’ve been reading about shame and a lot of what I read focusses on body image, how we see ourselves, and beat ourselves up because we don’t measure up to the perfect images in the media. The messages are (and always have been the same): it’s not the images, the body shapes and sizes they portray, that are wrong, it’s us that are wrong for not fitting into that image. Now if we’d only spend money on the latest diet book, follow the latest trend, we could look like those impossible airbrushed images and it’s only down to our laziness or greed that we are not able to do that.
Now as a woman who has spent her whole life living with a message of what is missing in my life I find this ridiculous but, of course, ridiculous for everyone else rather than me. I could spend the rest of my life beating myself up, wondering why I don’t look like Helen Mirren in a bikini but this is just repeating my go-to message: there is something wrong with me. But what happens if I throw out that message, what happens if I focus on all the things I am rather than all the things that I am not? I know it’s easier said etc but I have do something different, more sensible than I have been doing so far. I don’t want to just ignore the bits I like, but rather focus on what is good, what I like, I want to give up my focus on the negative which seems to impact on virtually, no, come to think of it, it impacts on every part of my life: me, my children, my partner, my home, my work etc etc It needs to stop, I need to stop, enough.
So I am perfectly imperfect: I am good enough, I fit just right in this world, and won’t hear anything else.