Saturday, April 19, 2008

Age 61

Let me first say that I am 61 1/2 years old and I live in West Virginia. I am a third generation victim of eating disorders. I know definitively that my mother had body image distortion, and it was modeled for me. I never met my mother's mother, but I can tell just by looking at pictures of her that she was fixated on being little. My mother had an interesting manifestation in that she couldn't see her body accurately, nor could she see mine accurately. So for almost all of my adult life I have been trying to erase her programming, which was entirely negative. I still don't know if I am seeing my body realistically, I think not. I think I am really fat; and I have at least four reasons that I "know" it is true. (1. I'm on medication that causes weight gain, usually about 25 lbs. 2. I moved from Florida where I had no appetite to West Virginia, where eating is a pleasure shared. 3. It was autumn, and I was packing on winter weight. 4. I have fibromyalgia and CFS which have drastically cut into my exercise energy. I spend more time idle and on the sofa, where I don't hurt as much.)

That said, here is what I have deprogrammed. Mother said my lips were big; I know they aren't. In fact, I think I have a beautiful mouth. Mother said my legs were fat, like tree trunks; my legs aren't small, but they're not fat either. I have the same legs as my Dad, my brothers, and 2 of my 3 children. They are solid Italian legs, but not fat. My mother's people have skinny legs. I almost like my legs. Mother told me that my butt was big. I am very proportionate. Mother said my hair was too straight and she was always putting perms in it. I love my hair. I've put back the red (strawberry blond) I had as a child. I think my hair is very, very pretty. I love my eyes; they are strikingly attractive. I am on the short side - 5'4" - and that limits what I can wear; I am learning at this late age how to dress attractively. I watch What Not To Wear on TV to get ideas and it has become fun to dress pretty. I have no money so I am a pretty regular shopper at the Goodwill Store. I now know what will add to my natural beauty and what will detract from it. I finally am madly in love with my freckles. I hated them for decades. Now, I hope they'll never go away. I look a bit younger than I am, so others say. I don't know what 61 is supposed to look like. I am trying to stop shopping in the juniors department. I am very self-conscious about my fingernails; they break off so easily, and never grow very long. I wish I had pretty ones. The biggest reason I quit smoking was because it gives wrinkles.

I am never thin enough. I am terribly eating disordered and see no way out of it. Beginning in 1973, after the birth of my third child, I was primarily anorexic. I got down to 87 pounds and was almost happy with how I looked. Looking back at pictures from those years, I looked like a concentration camp survivor. In 1980, I began living with my second husband, Larry, who loved to eat. He fixed food and saw that I ate well. I got up to 105 and was sort of OK with that weight. But then, I began gaining and gaining and began purging after every meal. Larry caught me and I developed hundreds of ways to get around him so I could get rid of what I just ate. That pattern of purging after meals is a giant monkey on my back - probably a mountain gorilla, if I'm honest. For me, I can starve myself when my life is chaotic. When I'm content, I eat and then want to purge. I don't like to look in full length mirrors now; I think in all honesty I look terribly fat. My hair and face please me, as do my feet. It's what's in the middle that I don't like. I sure hope I learn to love my body just as it is before I die. I'd love to live a life that doesn't focus on eating, food, calories, pounds and sizes of clothes. I wish I could feed me in a healthy way and not obsess about what I weigh or how my clothes fit and what size they are. I just don't how to do that, so it likely won't happen. And that's me and my thoughts about my body.