The email about the body image talk

if you have an eating disorder, this could be a triggering post. I am talking about the roots of my ED, the childhood beliefs, memories I have of my body image and thoughts associated with food even then. Please read with caution, and as always, be safe.

After therapy on Thursday, I couldn’t quite get all the body image thoughts and questions out of my head. I couldn’t get the examples and the memories out of my head from childhood.

I managed to shut it down, and get through hubby’s awards dinner. I smiled, and chatted. Several people complimented me on my dress, my hair, my earrings, how Hubby’s yellow tie and dress shirt coordinated beautifully with my kelly green dress without being too matchy-matchy. I acted my part, and everyone believes I enjoyed myself. I can be charming and witty. I’m actually intelligent and can carry on a conversation with just about anybody; it’s why I did so well as a hair colorist, and why I was able to really reach people to help us get the votes needed to get the autism insurance added to hubby’s work. I am so proud of Hubby; that wasn’t an act. He works harder than anyone I know, and he cares more, too. He deserved to be recognized, and honored.

Thursday night, we stayed at the hotel, and in the middle of the night, I used the hot tub in our room when I couldn’t sleep. And I started to journal the thoughts swirling in my head. I journaled pages and pages worth. Friday was more journaling as we drove home– along with a rest stop for some shopping (because I needed clothes, and shoes, of course).

And then on Saturday, I cleaned it all up, and emailed it to Bea:


Hi Bea,

I think I’m ready to talk about some of the eating and body image stuff. I say “think” because it’s a scary thing to me. But I guess anything that has to do with me and my feelings is scary.

I know I didn’t like myself, even as a child. I’ve always, really deep down blamed my parents for that, because don’t kids just like themselves? But maybe not. I don’t know. I feel like the more honest I am with myself about my life, the more confused I am, too. I always assumed it had to do with feeling like I was never good enough for my parents, or that they did not love me for me. Now, I really wonder of it had to do with the sexual abuse, or my personality, or a combination? Whatever it was, I have specific memories, as well as an overall feeling of there never really being a time where I liked myself.

Memories I have– some of these came to mind when you were talking on Thursday, but it was too much to even think about talking about this stuff last week. I needed to get through Hubby’s awards dinner, and that meant not thinking too much about body image or how I really feel about me, or how I felt about myself when I was a kid.

*kindergarten: when the letter people q and u got married, I remember being just so excited (we had a “wedding” at school that day) but not talking to anyone about it partly because I didn’t feel like anyone really cared about what I had to say anyway and partly because I wanted to disappear and hide– like I really didn’t want anyone to notice me

*First grade: I hated having to line up, and having people be so close to me. I remember crying in line when someone bumped into me and then being embarrassed that I would be so stupid to cry over that when no one else cared, but at the same time hating that another person had touched me

*Summer before 2nd grade: I read “Harriet the Spy” and decided that my mom would like Harriet better than me, so I tried to be just like Harriet. I even ate BLT sandwiches everyday for lunch just like Harriet, except I fed the bacon to our dog because bacon makes you fat and I did not want to get fat.

*Second grade: I remember trying to change one of my marks on a progress report before giving it to my parents because it was not perfect. I don’t remember what the marks were, if I changed it, or what happened. I simply remember the desperate feeling that I had not done good enough and could not let them know I had failed because they wouldn’t love me anymore

*When I read “the babysitters club” books, I was always trying to figure out which babysitter would be the best one to copy, who my parents would like best, who would make everyone happy with me? (And I read those in 2nd and 3rd grades)

*I have a memory of my mom doing my hair, maybe 3rd or 4th grade and I am looking at our faces side by side in the bathroom mirror. I remember thinking my face was fat and not pretty, that I did not look like my mom at all.

*I remember thinking my mom probably would have liked me to look more like my cousin– who I saw as thin and pretty– and I wished I looked like her too. (Now, when I look back at pictures of us at dance or at the pool, or family functions, we are the same size, or at least we appear to be)

*It was 3rd grade when I started skipping and limiting what I ate, 4th grade when I really began to skip lunch as a routine thing.

*It was 5th grade when I threw up for the first time. I got caught a year or so later, after lunch, by the school guidance councilor. And that’s how I ended up in therapy for the “issues”.

*My mom always dictated my clothing, what was and wasn’t appropriate. Eventually, I had an opinion, but I never “over rode” her opinion. Even when she decided I was old enough to wear makeup, she took me to have my makeup done professionally, to be taught how to wear makeup, and then bought me nice makeup. I wasn’t allowed to go buy “cheap trashy” makeup with my friends or wear the bright blues and purples and greens they sometimes wore. I had to look nice, look the “right” way.

I hate my body now. I could probably criticize and pick apart any part of my body, it’s really just that awful. I try not to even think about it, because I hate the way I feel about it. It’s not a nice feeling. I’ve hated my body for as long as I can remember. I think it’s good that you see me as comfortable with my body. That’s exactly the image I am trying so hard to be, to show Kat. It seems that I’ve got it. I feel like I say this all the time, and I’m embarrassed to be saying it again, but it’s just an act, one that is so second nature by now it’s on auto-pilot. I can’t let Kat grow up like I did, and so I try my best to show her someone who is comfortable with their body. I don’t usually say anything about it though. And I’m afraid if we start talking about body image, then I might not be able to fake my way through pretending to be okay with myself, and then what?

I have other memories, thoughts, ext but those are the ones that came to mind. This isn’t going to be easy to talk about. And even though I’m saying let’s talk about it, I want to maybe work on the eating and body image stuff and all the things twisted up with that, I’m sure I’ll need help talking. Because this is a hard topic, and I just don’t know where to start. Which is why I decided to start with an email. 🙂

~Alice

Bea emailed back, and that was that. Food, eating and body image were on the table as acceptable topics for the therapy room.

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