Four years ago on the 11th of April, I was admitted voluntarily to the eating disorders inpatient program at a psychiatric hospital in Melbourne. Each year, I find myself commemorating that day with some form of reflection on my progress. Over the past year, I’ve learnt some important lessons which have furthered my recovery journey enormously. These have been:
- Recovery is not linear.
- I am an adult with an adult body.
- I am my best friend.
- My recovery is my business.
- Things make more sense in macro.
- My recovery will last as long as I do.
- Normal is an individual metric.
Today’s post concerns the lesson that I am an adult with an adult body.
For me, various degrees of self-loathing and attempts to change my body were present throughout puberty. I never reached acceptance of my adult body. I never even took the time to get to know it. Instead, my adult body was always something I fought against, particularly its thighs and hips.
A feminist reading of this struggle would interpret it as symbolic of my desire not to be robbed of the childhood paradise in which being a girl was not so different from being a boy. Knowing that becoming a woman brought with it a range of expectations regarding appearance, conduct and interests, I wished to remain a girl.
Whatever the meaning of the struggle, it led to a complete inability to accept my adult body as it naturally was – big hips and all. I was convinced that my adult body was wrong and I needed to revert back to my childhood form.
It is only in the past year or so that I have finally realised that my adult body is my body. I am an adult, so I have an adult body and that’s that. With this realisation, I have begun getting to know my body through my yoga practice, through gardening, through mindful body awareness. Now, I can confidently say that I accept my adult body. This doesn’t mean I am always comfortable within it, or that I never have negative thoughts about it, but it does mean I am no longer fighting my thighs, no longer hating every bit of my body that I associate with womanhood.
If you’re looking for more information about eating disorders, or indeed any other mental health issues, the Australian Government’s mindhealthconnect website is a really useful tool which collects all the relevant resources from organisations such as beyondblue and The Butterfly Foundation into one place.
Tomorrow, I will discuss the lesson that I am my best friend.
Love, hope and peace from Emma.