Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tuesday's Truth

If a Picture is Worth a Thousand Words...


Then let give you my particular view.

This is how I look most days. Minimal make up, turtle neck or long sleeved "T", and some sort of scarf around my neck because, as most of you know, I am almost always cold. This picture was taken after I had shopped around, for several days, for new eyeglass frames. I found and purchased these frames at Sally's Optical Secrets and brought them to my optometrist's office for new lenses. You all are receiving a sneak peak. I just adore the detail along the side, don't you?

As I look at this photo, I see how fatigued I am and am making a mental note to at least wear some lipstick when I venture out! However, upon closer inspection I was taken aback by my particular body image. You see, I have been feeling quite pudgy lately as I have not been running or working out as I should. I blame the cold weather and this chronic sinus congestion for the lack of energy and motivation. And, if truth be told, I have gained some weight since September.

What I'm about to tell you is the god's honest truth: The reason this photo is a reality check for me is that, normally, when I look at myself in a mirror, I see inflated tummy, bulging thighs and the onset of a double chin. I also see wrinkles and frizzy hair with a lack of finesse or style. I focus on what I deem to be imperfections (skin, teeth, hair, weight, etc). When I dressed on this particular morning I felt as if my clothes were too snug. But now, in truly attempting to see what others see, I notice that my clothes are literally "hanging" off of me. I just asked my daughter...is this how I always look? She said yes. I'm stunned.

The reason this is upsetting is that, long ago, I battled a severe eating disorder. In college, I was anorexic and my weight was down to 90 lbs. I lived on cigarettes, coffee and beer. When I quit smoking and started to gain weight, I was appalled. That is when bulimic behavior entered into my life and I began to purge. Not by throwing up but through the heavy use of laxatives and excessive working out: I'd run in the morning, take an afternoon aerobics class, then run again in the evening. I would then abuse laxatives before going to bed. A vicious cycle developed that I was powerless to stop.

My wake up call was when I attempted to receive some help at the local eating disorder clinic. They wanted to admit me right away. Uh, no...I was single, supporting myself, and couldn't afford to miss work and be hospitalized for 2-4 weeks. It was quite a struggle but I took matters into my own hands. It took several years but during that time I found God and both my spiritual journey and journey to recovery began.

I can see now, through the new lenses of reality, that this eating disorder has a way of rearing it's ugliness and lies back into one's life. All it takes is a skewed body image and an unrealistic view of  "perfection".

Please note: I am not currently demonstrating any anorexic or bulimic behavior. Just the skewed body image that can trigger the disorder to take hold.  I also realize this post just touched the surface of  the insidiousness of this disorder and maybe, someday, I'll be brave enough or comfortable enough to share on a deeper level.

32 comments:

I'm a full-time mummy said...

Actually you look OK to me! I hope and pray for your continuous recovery!

MJ said...

Dear Sweet Polly,

I am soo thankful that you were able to overcome the worst of this disease. As you know, it is like any other one out there, it is a life long battle & some days are worse than others. You are absolutely BEAUTIFUL, even sans makeup.

My battle was not as big as yours, but I do feel your pain. In college I would eat as a normal college student would then go to my room and eat some Exlax. I would do this any time I would eat lunch or dinner - hey it was dessert. To this day I half struggle to eat a regular Hersey Bar. And as you can tell, I've learned to deal with the weight. Some days are harder than others, and I would think of how easy it would be to go buy some Exlax. Then I remember the vicious cycle it creates & tell myself it's not worth it.

Love, Mary

BTW LOVE the glasses

Michelle said...

For some reason, felt compelled to come and read your post today (even though I'm kind of fasting and all...) but...you look beautiful and I know what you mean about the skewed body image. Prayers with you friend...you are a beautiful! Created in the image and likeness of God...He does not create imperfection! :)

Mumsy said...

I wish you're well on your recovery journey, and may God continue to guide you with love and strength.

Didn't they said "beauty is in the eyes of the beholders"? You look beautiful and REAL, not all made-up like dolls or celebrities..

Brian Miller said...

glad you are writing on this...you dont have to be in the fullblown disorder to know you are headed there, even with the skewed self image...many dont have that same awareness and would justify it...

Julie Schuler said...

Eating disorders are scary and hard to understand, for me. But I have always been interested in dysmorphia an "misperceived" bodies. And I have had experience with psychological influences over the body, and how powerful they are. It's a good thing you have a wonderful family and extended family through your faith to keep you healthy.

But, on the other hand, you get on my nerves, being able to go out without make up. I still have to dot concealer over "teenage blemishes" only I'm 36!..... your new glasses are great, too. I always wish that we, as a nation, dressed better, but I'm always waiting for someone else to go first! I look in my closet and go, "nah, I'll just keep these on, no use making more laundry!"

Tracy said...

first off, love the new glasses, secondly, I wish I could look half as good as you without my makeup!

I have always had a horrible body image. Even in high school when I barely tipped the scales at 100 pounds (I am 5'4"), I thought I had a huge butt and thighes, but I never did anything about it. I lived for the winter when I could wear turtle necks to cover up my softening, double chin.

Now, for the first time in my life, I am learning I can take control over my body, my exercise and my food.....and I can already feel it is a fine line between good health and insanitiy. Food has begun to control me, I had to force myself to eat a deli sandwich out after church on Sunday with friends. I only ate half because I kept thinking of all the empty calories. And I find myself exercising three times a day, just to keep the scales going down. Husband told me "enough is enough" yesterday, to take a firm look at what I was doing, knowing I have an obsessive personality, and get in touch with what is going on. If not, he threatened to throw out the Wii and the Jillian Michael DVDS and only buy fattening foods. I think I will be okay, but entries as this serve as good reminders.

Mary said...

You look fabulous! Continue to ask God to help you accept who you are, and run with it! Hang in there!

Tortuga said...

Oh Polly,

I have never battled an eating disorder so I have no experience with what you're going through. I know people that have and it is very tough to watch. Big applause for you for spotting the beginnings of a potential problem and not only facing it, but having the courage to talk about it. You truly are a beautiful and strong woman, inside AND outside. I will be praying for you and hoping you feel better soon. Remember, God loves you just the way you are, and He created you for a purpose that only you can fulfill. In His eyes, you are precious.

Willoughby said...

You're adorable! I love the new glasses!

I'm glad that you recognized the signs that you could be headed for trouble. You can't underestimate the power of the voice in your head that doesn't always speak the truth. I've never had a full blown case of anorexia, but I was headed toward it in high school. I still have plenty of issues, though. Issues with food, body image, OCD...

Take care of yourself and don't get bogged down in that "bad place" in your head. Hugs!!

Tattoos and Teething Rings said...

I know this is sort of a lame thing to say, but honestly, I think you look great. Seriously. So many of us look in the mirror and see something completely different than what other people see when they look at us. Thank you for being open and honest.

L.B. said...

I agree with Tats - you look great. I know it probably doesn't do a whole lot; I have a skewed sense of myself too. But when I see you, the last thing I think of is a weight problem.

Meeko Fabulous said...

Love the glasses! You look fabulous!

Lee the Hot Flash Queen said...

Polly..first of all you are beautiful..make up or not. Second of all...I hope that you keep from falling into that trap. You are an amazing person and very in touch with who you are. I have faith in you, and love you.

Lee

Betty Manousos:cutand-dry.blogspot.com said...

Lee, just said everything.
Polly, you look gorgeous , I love the glasses, and OMG!! your smile and warthm are priceless.!
I also love your hair style.
Betty xx

Steven Anthony said...

I think you are very brave to share your story....prayers being sent your way my friend;)

blueviolet said...

You know I have that same issue as we've discussed it and just like you, I start to get that distorted view of myself. The problem is that if someone else tells me, I will dig my heels in even further. I have to recognize it myself.

I'm glad you took that picture and saw what you saw.

Hugs and love!!! (I'll miss ya while I'm gone this week on my love visit (lol), but we'll catch up again next week!)

AJ said...

It's so difficult to look at ourselves through the lens of God. Hard to see what He sees.

Praying that all of us learn to see ourselves for what we are... to take care of the beautiful bodies God has given us and to keep accepting ourselves.

Les said...

You look wonderful! Glasses are great! Be strong and be fabulous! (((Polly)))

Erin said...

Polly,

I am giving you a standing ovation here at my house. Bravo! I love your honesty. And I'm glad you were able, upon a closer inspection, to look at the photo and see the truth---that your clothes are not too tight, and that you are beautiful and there is no double chin.

This reminds me of my post a few weeks ago about BDD (Body Dysmorphic Disorder). I am sure it sort of goes hand in hand with eating disorders. Why must we women always be so hard on ourselves?

I am glad you have taken control of your life. You are a beautiful person inside and out, and I know you are helping people by posting this and sharing your experiences.

You are amazing. And you have such a way with words that you can't help but touch others with your writing. Keep it up!

James Hawley said...

Polly--

What can I say? You are beautiful inside and out. Take good care of you....

Kathleen said...

Do you know when I first opened this post, I saw your picture and was just going to take the lazy way out and make the comment: "You are so pretty, and those are wonderful colors for you!" without reading the post. I'm glad I read it, and my comment still holds true! I think you are so pretty! Thank you for sharing what you did, and I hope one day you will share more. My best friend growing up had anorexia, and we lost close touch after that (this was when we were overseas in Africa, so she came back to the states for treatment). I wish I could somehow have been there more for her.

Michelle Hoad said...

Love the new frames and hopefully you will continue to see yourself as others see you. Now if only I could practice what I preach.

Ms Bibi said...

Polly,

when I look at that picture I see beautiful and caring woman that is truly beautiful inside and out.

You have natural beauty that many people would kill for and your warm personality shines through.

Keep strong and know that everybody who knows you is truly blessed.

Raoulysgirl said...

I'm so glad you finally posted a little of your story! As you know, I completely understand your struggles...even today...with body image. I truly believe that, like alcoholism or drug addiction, this illness will never truly release its hold on us. However, we are both now strong enough to never again succumb to it's pull!!! Here's to staying strong and loving ourselves for who we are (and each other...<3 ya!)!!!

Oh...and the glasses look awesome on you!!!!

Holly said...

Easy stuff first...the glasses are awesome...super-cute. You are beautiful and classy and we love ya!

I applaud you for sharing your story. I do not have anorexic or bulimic issues but I definitely have a distorted body image that I have not been able to shake...work in progress.

the domestic mama said...

Polly, that's awesome you overcame that - I have watched my mom struggle my whole life with it. Laxatives, starving- she would eat food and chew it up then spit it out. I never understood her activities as a kid. Now that I am older it is plain as day- and sad, too. She's 72-with lymphoma and simply doesn't eat. She was down to 82lbs at the doctor the last time I went. She has overcome and survived so much- it's hard to see the eating problems win. I am glad that you are better. You look great- go get yourself a smaller shirt, though! That's toooooo big! :)

Debbie said...

Polly you are obviously a beautiful person inside and out. I have a topic on my blog...self esteem issues....so many women came in and commented, it was one of my hottest posts. We all have it in some shape or form...however it is changing our perception a little each day...and realizing none of us are perfect. Hollywood really messes people up IMO!!~

Sh@KiR@ CK said...

Polly you look like a billion bucks ,
YOU just got to believe that!

You GO GIRL!

hugs
shakira

Nessa said...

You look lovely and I like your glasses.

The need to see ourselves as perfect is a horrible thing.

Wordless Wednesday - Sláinte!

covnitkepr1 said...

You look great just as you are. Don't believe any different. I'm glad you overcame and are overcoming your eating disorder. I struggle with "haunts" from my past as well. I have become a follower of your blog. Hang in there.

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