Thursday, 25 May 2017

Questions of love trilogy - Part One: Do You Love Yourself? II - How I Cope with my Body and Mind.

by Holly White

Being able to accept my body meant I could see my hip bones; that when I lied down in bed they were sticking far out and my tummy dipped into a valley and the two peaks stood as mountains either side. I'd see how much I could hold, trying to hook my fingers around in some attempt to assure myself I wasn't gaining weight. I'd look in the mirror and stand sideways trying to asses if they were sticking out more from the previous time I looked, only a few hours ago. I was transfixed by them and what the represented - bone sticking out meant I wasn't fat. And if I wasn't fat I was pretty. I wanted to be able to arch my back forward and see the perfect, repetitive rise and fall of my spine descending down to where my proud hip bones resided. From the top of the ladder my vertebrates mimicked, they would snake off into a V and form my collar bones; two bones that held the weight of my world on, I wanted them to be so prominent you couldn't miss. Stopping and staring as you trace them with your eyes, I wanted you to see the grace I held. The framework leading effortlessly up my neck and to my face. The face I scrutinised everyday, every glimpse of a reflection, every time someone looked at me, assuming they didn't like what they saw. My eyes too small, the blue not bright enough, my skin covered in imperfections, my nose disproportionate, my lips not plump enough, my cheeks to puffy or maybe too hollow, my smile crooked, my teeth tinged and wonky, my freckles looking stupid, my eyebrows not full enough, my jaw unflattering, my hair dull, my voice croaky. I could go on but I'll stop.

So many things to change, improve and perfect to my standard; if I didn't feel pretty then I wasn't pretty and then I wasn't capable of being pretty to anyone else. I didn’t develop an eating disorder and I didn't start hurting myself but I carried a constant reminder that I was never going to be able to be beautiful. It didn't seem to matter to me that my parents constantly told me I was, because that's what I expected them to say; I cared only for what the people who didn't have any obligation to my existence said. For the people who had no regular involvement, impression, voice or imprint in my life, I cared for most the way they viewed my body. And it was because they  weren't in my life long, for at the most a few hours, this was the only impression we had on each other. They saw me, they judged me, they dismissed me. I wanted so badly to have some kind of reassurance it was positive thoughts and then I could take some twisted form of gratification knowing a stranger approved of my body. My body they would never see exposed, or touch or be in constant contact with because they were a stranger - and I wanted their approval. I based my entire self esteem off of a stranger's opinion I could only guess at. Now I have been through puberty and reached the other side, whilst I am not an adult, I will take it upon myself to say I have matured over these years and don't build my esteem from such a method as the above.

It’s taken me a long time to pull myself out of the hole of denial but I write openly with maybe a completely clichè ideology, to somehow spread a little more love and understanding of ourselves. And I write for our blog because it's the only place I know so far for an audience that may work in a similar way to my own mind - we all come together in one giant hub of life combined with every feature (about to be listed) that are going through our systems at such a high concentration: work, stress, anxiety, friendships, relationships, jealousy, annoyance, sex, lust, drugs, hate, love, sadness, happiness, anger and want. It's everywhere. It's consuming and it is in us.

Body acceptance, for me, is about taking the time out of my day and being able to carefully put on stand by the overwhelming feelings I have taken on board the hours before I look in the mirror. When I have work to do sometimes I neglect my body's needs; when I am stressed I will again either neglect it or comfort eat until i can suppress it; when I'm anxious I start to hate it for being unable to cope in simple situations; with friendships and relationships I curse it for not being able to get across the right feeling or words; when I'm jealous I hate it for feeling so useless compared to others; when sex comes to mind I am repulsed at the thought of it being exposed and intimate; when I feel lustful I am embarrassed to think for one moment someone could feel the same way for me; when drugs enter me I am disappointed that I can't take care of myself; when I feel hate I am infuriated at the consuming feeling it lets me have; when I have love for a person I am frustrated beyond belief at my inability to show just how much they mean to me; when I am sad or happy I dislike how easily I can show what I feel; when I am angry I begin to shut down; when I want I can never see the things I already have.

And putting that all behind me can be hard when I have to look in the mirror when I already have so many conflicting and loud and unkind thoughts in my head. But looking in that mirror I see a body and a person who has seen me through the best times of my life and stayed there for the most traumatic; other people have come and gone, their words have been said and their looks have been cast but I have been the one to keep me going through every single situation...

...This is how I remember to love the body I have and I wouldn't trade it for the world.
(Or sandwich)

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