Sunday, 8 June 2014

On taking up space

It's hardly a secret that I have a very messy past. I've talked about my dysfunctional family of origin... but there's much more to my mess than that.

For most of my teens and all my twenties, food was an extremely dangerous enemy to me - to be contained when possible. After years of utter chaos, pain and insanity, I found salvation in a programme of extremely rigid food containment (a blog I wrote for years still exists, both as a reminder for me and to give hope to others) which kept the demon contained. It took work and commitment, but for years I found that I could have a life between meals - all three meals were committed in advance to my sponsor each day, in detail, then weighed and measured; with nothing in between but black coffee, tea or water. No matter what. 24/7, 365, no exceptions. It took planning and commitment but I was able to live life in between those meals.

One day in late 2010 I was at a conference. People were prayed for. I felt no particular need so I stayed in my seat. Someone called me out and prayed for me - I don't remember what he said, only that it wasn't very earth-shattering - but I knew, that evening, that I had been freed. After years of daily, no-exceptions weighing and measuring of my food I started the next day with extreme caution. I took my scale to breakfast, but I had chosen not to call my sponsor that morning. I sat at breakfast and my scale remained in my bag. Slowly, as if the food could attack at any moment, I took my first bite. And another. And I was truly free.

Over the next few months I learned, completely re-learned, how to eat. I was no longer avoiding all sugars, grains and starches as the enemy. I no longer had to wait 4 hours in between meals, or avoid snacks. In learning, I gained some weight; but I never spiralled out of control. I truly had been healed, actually totally unasked-for (I had been convinced I'd found as much freedom as I could ever have!)... but it was like having to learn to walk after a stroke, I had to learn to eat in response to hunger cues and appetites and choices I could make.

While I have been free from the madness since that day in 2010, it's been a journey in terms of body image. I will never have a model body - I'm just not built that way. I'm short, muscular, and strong; not lithe and willowy. My wonderful man calls me 'curvaceous'. I remind myself often that he is the only person I really want my body to appeal to; as long as he likes what he sees, it's all good. That includes myself and my merciless eyes; it doesn't matter if they're less than happy at the mirror's reflection.

Photo taken at about 20 weeks.
Sharing this photo is seriously tough for me, because it shows lumps on an imperfect body (and fat arms); but I'm showing it because for the first time in my adult life, or perhaps ever, something is shifting in my own perception. For the first time, I have an inkling that the amount of space I take up is not too much. That my body has a right to take up the amount of space it does, because I'm pregnant. I'm not disturbed at my belly's growth, I welcome it - my body has every right to expand at this time.

I'm not eating for two, I'm not going crazy with food: those days are over. But I am gaining weight. And for the first time, I'm absolutely fine with that.

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Thanks so much for sharing!