The body doesn’t belong to me. It never has.
I’m responsible for it, I’m definitely connected to it, but I am not the one in charge and I never have been. I never think of it as mine.
It’s never been the right size or shape or looked the right way. All my life it’s done what other people say and responded to other people’s expectations. I’ve been taught to feel ashamed and disgusted about it – and acquiescent in these manipulations at the same time.
Now, after a couple of years in therapy, I pretty much understand where these feelings have come from. I get why I feel the body isn’t right and I can put distance between what others did and my responsibility for that.
But the thought patterns created over years don’t go away with understanding. I can formulate the hell out of this, but it doesn’t change the fact that what other people think has determined and still determines how the body has to be.
And when other people didn’t have an opinion, anorexia was more than happy to step up to make decisions about the body. The amount of nourishment it deserved, how much it could weigh, how much space it could take up in the world, what it could look like.
Good treatment for anorexia involves looking at the psychological reasons for the behaviours and feelings. And building this understanding allows you to take back some of the control, to start to make positive decisions for the body.
But, and it’s a huge but, good treatment for anorexia also involves taking care of the physical side of things. Making sure you’ve still got a functioning body to come back to when you’ve sorted out your head.
I am lucky enough to have access to excellent treatment for anorexia but it means I still don’t have absolute control over the body.
The label ‘anorexia’ means I can’t be trusted to keep the body alive and that other people have to take a watching brief. How much space is it taking up? How is it functioning? Is it getting enough nutrition and fluids? Is it being given the prescribed drugs and supplements? Is it being harmed or abused in any way?
I want to step back from all this, to take some control back for the body. Maybe even learn to use a possessive pronoun. But it seems that’s not going to happen right now. I’m not trusted. I’m not sure I’d trust me, but it’s still an uncomfortable thought.
So it’s still all about control. Control I don’t have.