Over Thanksgiving week in Atlanta, I took a few spare minutes to be very sad for myself as I used to be. It was a good exercise, and not as self-indulgent as it sounds (not quite, anyway). My mom swears up and down that she is finally going to "do something" to my old bedroom, so I was tasked with setting aside whatever I didn't want chucked out or sent the way of the Goodwill. I didn't find much: a coin collection from my paternal grandparents' many travels and international homes; a Renaissance fair dress that cost me the entirety of my second-to-tenth-grades savings; an old book of Scandinavian fairy tales; plays; an astrology chart set; some old spell books (yes, you read that right: spell books).
During this excavation I came across high school pictures, which turned out to be a punch in the gut. What I couldn't get over was how fat I felt at that time. Here I was, looking at these images of my 14- to 18-year-old self, probably 105-115 lbs. and 5'1"-5'3", and I remember feeling fat when each of those pictures was taken. I thought I needed to lose weight for essentially my entire high school experience. Ridiculous. How sad to have wasted so much mental and emotional energy stressing over something that wasn't even true, and that I equated erroneously with "fixing" myself. Sad, sad, sad.
My eating disorder grew from a conviction that something was wrong with me. Plenty of girls (too many) go on diets and/or obsess about every new curve or dimple. Not all of those girls go on to develop disordered eating habits, let alone full-blown anorexia or bulimia (or both). Whatever invisible and silent divide there is between girls like I was (and am, to a certain extent) and girls who go on to say, "Eff you, buddy," to their sicker impulses: that's the Rubik's Cube of adolescent (and increasingly adult) psychology. And I'm sorry (I'm not), but I don't believe that divide has anything to do with "will power" or "choice" - regardless of which side a person inhabits. The puzzle is one of those "nature vs. nurture" or "nature, nurture et al." jumbles that shrinks may never suss out.
So while that whole mess remains a mystery, and since I've already expended so much time and energy in unraveling said mystery, I will go ahead and concentrate on enjoying what I have now. On not berating myself. On mentally giving the finger to everyone who won't STFU about diet, weight, blah blah blah. On immersing myself in reality and owning my weight and shape and health and curves the way they are now, or whenever. *cue maudlin sitcom music* And on forgiving myself allllllll the years of abuse I put myself through, both mentally and physically. *end maudlin sitcom music*
Aren't you glad that all of life's problems can be solved in a half hour or a blog post? Yeah, me too.