Good morning and Happy New Year! I slept ridiculously well last night (nine and a half hours without an alarm, baby), so I’m starting the new year off right. I decided to stay in last night because I have not been sleeping very well, so I did some yoga and a New Year’s meditation instead of going out. I didn’t make it until midnight, but the sleep was well worth missing the countdown. I’m just going to say that I was celebrating in a different time zone and call it good. Whether you spent the first minutes of 2015 partying like it was 1999, watching the ball drop, or fast asleep, I hope that your year is off to a good start, as well. On this first day of the new year, I am linking up with Amanda to share some of what has been on my mind lately.
This week, I have been thinking about honesty. I don’t mean honesty with others, although that’s pretty important, I suppose. I’m talking about honesty with ourselves. For a substantial portion of my life, I have not been honest with myself. I have tried to do things to fit in that I did not enjoy doing. I have convinced myself that I am overly sensitive, boring, lazy, and any other number of negative adjectives rather than accepting all parts of who I am. And, at the expense of my health and sanity, I have spent a lot of time and energy lying to myself about what matters to me in life over the last couple of years.
In my most malnourished state of mind, I was dishonest with myself about nearly everything. I tried to tell myself that I ran because I liked it. I tried to tell myself that I liked dry lettuce better than lettuce accompanied with salad dressing. I tried to tell myself that I exercised to feel good, not to burn calories. I was convinced that I weighed myself daily so that I would not lose too much weight, when the reality was that the fear of weight gain was far more motivating. The result of all of this lying was a thick, well-defined facade. But there was one problem with this: although others may not have known that I was not this health-obsessed fitness fanatic at heart, I knew. And it ate me up inside. When somebody complimented my willpower or discipline because I did not allow myself a piece of chocolate or forced myself to get to the gym every morning, it crushed me because I knew that I was not living according to my values, but the values of a disorder that had replaced my own identity.
Living a lie is a painful, lonely existence. It destroys you from the inside out. I believe that my lack of self-knowledge and self-acceptance was a huge contributor to the development and perpetuation of my eating disorder. After all, if you don’t know or like the person that you are, how are you expected to put effort into saving your own life? How are you expected to recognize when you are not being authentic? It is nearly impossible.
I know that I am still combatting this false image, gradually chipping away at it and creating a more authentic self. Each morning that I choose to exercise when I am hungry, I am lying to myself about the importance of fueling my body. Each time that I cautiously dip my fork in salad dressing rather than pouring some on my salad, I am lying to myself about the food that I like to eat. I am living under the shroud of fear that has oppressed me for so long instead of boldly allowing myself to enjoy food. Each time that I choose to leave work early to go to the gym not because I crave movement but because the anxiety of not going is too much for me to bear, I am lying to myself about the ways in which I like to spend my time. When I knowingly and intentionally eat too little out of the fear of eating too much, I am lying to myself by hammering the message in again and again that I need to be on a diet, when I want to believe in the truth that my body can be trusted.
The truth is, I’m not the girl that I have pretended to be over the last two years. I’m not the girl I pretended to be in middle or high school, either. I’m just me.
I like potato chips. I like them a lot. I especially like salt and vinegar varietals.
I like PopTarts. I can’t pronounce at least half of the ingredients in them. They contain gluten, dairy, and who the hell knows what else. But, they remind me of being a kid and they are filled with strawberry goodness. On a separate note, who the hell buys unfrosted PopTarts? Why do they even make those?
There are only two foods that are entirely off-limits as far as I am concerned, and they are walnuts and celery. I like them both, but they do not like me.
I do not like running 90% of the time. Sure, the occasional jog in nice weather can be pleasant, but I would much rather walk.
I hate spending money on exercise clothes. I’m the girl at the gym in a college t-shirt and leggings with a hole in them, and I do not care whatsoever.
I do not like doing yoga with any sort of cardio component. It makes me lightheaded and sick.
I really like television. The length of shows is just right for my attention span, usually. I love cooking competition shows, The Office, Seinfeld, Friends, Arrested Development, Intervention, Law and Order: SVU, and Teen Mom, although I admit that last one with a twinge of guilt.
I occasionally enjoy computer games and video games, although I usually prefer watching other people play them over playing them myself, which I acknowledge to be a little bizarre.
Generally speaking, I don’t enjoy watching movies. I get restless and bored, even if the movie has an interesting plot.
Although I do not enjoy movies, I love movie theater popcorn. This probably correlates directly with my love of salt.
I genuinely do not like mayonnaise. I do, however, like mayonnaise as an ingredient in other things such as potato salad, fry sauce, and thousand island salad dressing.
I would much rather spend an evening hanging out and drinking tea with friends or cooking dinner than going out to a bar to meet people. Actually, I would rather spend an evening hanging out by myself than going to a bar to meet people. Truth be told, I would rather spend an evening hanging out by myself than do quite a few things.
I am not very adventurous. I like a degree of routine in my life and keeping plans is important to me. I keep a planner with me at all times, and I like knowing the order of my day before I begin it. If this makes me a little bit of a buzzkill, so be it.
I don’t see the appeal of doing crafts for their own sake. I like making useful things, like deodorant and body scrubs, but activities like cross-stitching are about as appealing to me as being waterboarded for information.
If I had to choose, I would say that I am definitely a cat person rather than a dog person. There’s one dog and one dog alone that I love, and it’s this lil’ guy. I mean, just look at that face.
Why, you may ask, did I just flood you with useless information about myself? Because I am sick of pretending to be somebody that I am not. I am sick of trying to fit in and trying to make myself into somebody different so that I can feel accepted. I am sick of acting like I want to go out on a Friday night when I really want to stay in and read, of pretending to care about “clean” eating, of acting as though the amount of weight that I can lift actually matters to me one iota. I want to feel accepted for the person I truly am. I want to own my authentic, unique identity.
As we begin a new year, I am left hoping that 2015 will be a year of continued self-discovery and self-acceptance for me. I don’t doubt that this will be challenging, as it will likely involve thinking about and accepting the things that I have tried so hard to cover up and change. My hope is that the challenge of accepting myself will be worth it, that I will learn to not only know myself, but to own myself. And I hope the same for you, too!