Today, I cried in a fitting room for the first time in my entire life.
I cried because the shorts that I tried on didn’t fit me. I cried because my pant size has increased significantly since January. I cried because I was standing in front of the mirror and all I could see was fat – everywhere. I cried because I was allowing that pant size to define who I am as a person. I cried because I felt disgusting, shameful, and ugly.
I bought a few pairs of capris in a size I am still very uncomfortable with and left the store feeling defeated.
The only thing I could think to do was to retreat into my eating disorder. “Once I get smaller again, I’ll feel a bit better. I won’t go too far this time…I’ll still be healthy,” I told myself. Rather than allowing those thoughts to take root, I chose to reach out to my dietitian, Anna, for support. The conversation that ensued allowed me the opportunity to slow down, challenge my distorted thoughts, and reassess my values.
I was reminded that to have a body is a common experience. It is something that every human being can relate to. I was reminded that being in my body as it is now does not have to be an isolating experience. In fact, it is only when I am fully present in my body that I am able to connect deeply with others.
I decided to shift my attitude from one of hatred, to that of gratitude. I made a conscious choice to think of all the amazing things that my body, as it is now – increased pant size and all, has allowed me to do. For example,
- I have been able to climb the stairs up to where my church meets without feeling tired.
- I have been able to walk around the pond at school and have a conversation with someone I care for deeply.
- I have been able to play Dance Dance Revolution in a very old arcade with a dear friend.
- I have gone on a hike to watch the most beautiful sunset I’ve ever seen.
- I swung on the swings with my brother.
- I held a gigantic eight month old baby for hours.
- I shot hoops with my friend and sucked at it but had a lot of fun.
- I went canoeing with that same friend and was able to lift the canoe onto the roof of my car.
Being in this body is less about the body itself, and more about what I am able to accomplish through it. If I were not healthy, I wouldn’t have been able to do some of those things, and if I were able, I wouldn’t have been present to enjoy them.
She also shared the following quote with me:
“If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself.
If you want to eliminate the suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself.
Truly, the greatest gift that you have to give is that of your own self-transformation.”
~ Lao Tzu
This quote speaks directly to the things that I value most of all. It reminded me of why I’m fighting for recovery in the first place. It is why I had to get rid of my old clothes and shop for new ones. It is why I am learning to move into uncharted territory and explore what it means to be healthy and present in the world. It is why I said, “This is the end.”
As I wrote a few weeks ago, I want to leave behind my footprints everywhere I go. I want my life to have meaning, to make an impact. I want to be a person who challenges others to think differently, who speaks light into dark places, gives hope to those who feel that they are too far gone. I see injustice and I want to stand against it. I want to be not only a lifelong learner, but I want to give myself space to put my learning into action. I want to not only speak MY truth, but I want to be a platform for others. I want to amplify their voices so that they are heard loud and clear. I want to love boldly and passionately. I want to live a life full of compassion, bravery, vulnerability, flexibility, and sincerity.
If I allow myself to shrink my own world down to the size of an article of clothing, I am doing myself an incredible disservice. I may wear a larger size than I did, but I’m able to accomplish more too. I am full of life now – in a way that I never was before. I have so much to offer this world, and I am not about to throw that all away. (Thank heavens I’ve got so many amazing, supportive people in my life who remind me of this regularly. I don’t know where I’d be without y’all. You know who you are.)
So, today I cried in a fitting room for the first time in my life. I cried out of fear, self-hatred, and disgust. Next time, I won’t cry. I don’t have to like that my clothing size is larger, but I am choosing to accept it. Acceptance has nothing to do with enjoyment.
I commit to actively choosing to carry my values into the fitting room with me along with the clothes, because ultimately those are infinitely more important.