I’ve just typed the heading to this post and felt a lurch in my tummy and tears prick in my eyes.
I don’t cry easily these days. In fact over the last 10 months of this hell, I’ve hardly cried. So, to spare my pride, let’s attribute this emotional wobble to tiredness!
My body is changing; perceptibly and before my very eyes.
My weight loss happened gradually over a two year period than dropped dramatically in the space of a couple of months at the beginning of this year. However, my eyes were so blinded by depression and by the opaque cloak that Ana had thrown over me that I couldn’t see it.
Today was my fortnightly check in with my nurse for my blood to be taken and weight noted. I’ve put on 2lb in two weeks and am now 1 stone heavier than I was in March. 1 stone.
My thighs aren’t as stick like (although my legs are still pretty unshapely still), my arms have lost that emaciated look. My cheeks have filled out and my waist has a softness to it: I am squidgier around the edges now.
So why am I so scared and uncomfortable by what I see? I have been two stone heavier than I am now and still been slim and, more importantly, I was happy and confident with the way I looked!
Ana taught me that protruding bones and the leanest of lean limbs were a symbol of my strength, my determination, my achievement. It was a way to show the world that I was stronger than they were. They were weak for giving in and feeding themselves.
The thing is, whilst I know that I am feeding and repairing my body, Ana’s words still linger in my mind.
How odd it is that I look at other women of all shapes and sizes and praise them. I see their shapeliness not as indicative of greed or indulgence but of their pride in themselves. I see it as representative of them being happy and content, I imagine them laughing freely with their friends over cocktails and nibbles; enjoying wonderful meals out with their partners.
Yet, when I look at my changing body I don’t see it as representative of any of those things. Perhaps it’s partly because the weight gain has been caused not through happy social times but by bloody hard work. Eating three times a day even though my dietician wants me to eat 6 times a day!
I’m a bundle of contradictions. I want to be proud of the skin and the body I’m in again, like I used to be. I want to really wear my clothes, not have them wear me. Yet, despite wanting this so much, I’m not comfortable with the real life transformation that is visibly happening.
But, I will take the words of my dietician forward with me.
She used the example of a newborn baby, whose flesh and limbs are so soft and almost pliable. The tissue making up those limbs has never been used, it has never borne weight. Compare that newborn tissue with that of a toddler whose body is growing, learning to walk and carry its weight; that toddler tissue is firmer and grows into lean muscle.
In starvation mode my body had started to consume its muscle mass. Now that I’m feeding it again, its stores are building. Those stores aren’t lean muscle….yet. They will change though. The more I fuel my body, the stronger I get, the more my muscles will form underneath the soft tissue and I’ll regain my shape.
I had never ever thought of my body in those terms. What terrible, terrible harm I inflicted on myself. I caused my own body to turn on itself.
This truly is an existentialist journey of transformation, not only internally but externally. I’m nowhere near the end; in fact, I suppose, there isn’t an end. I may think that I’m well, fit and healthy, but I still have some distance to go before this butterfly breaks from her chrysalis.