One thing you find yourself constantly reminded of during recovery is to refrain from the comparison trap. That is, to stop comparing yourself to those around you, in order to achieve optimal happiness. In so many ways, the one major road block to genuine freedom for a lot of girls (and boys) suffering from an ED, or self-image issues is how they seem to measure up to others. In so many ways, this leaches into several facets of life.
First, think of school, you are likely to ask your friends what mark they received on a test they wrote. Likely, and unbeknownst to even you, perhaps, your internalize their triumph or failure and relate it to yours. Should their mark exceed yours, it is possible that you will feel a level of dissatisfaction in your own attempts, or vice versa. Or, perhaps, in the gym, do you ever notice your gaze shift from your own personal journey, as you watch to see how successfully someone to your left is running on the treadmill, or how much someone on your right is lifting [which may or may not double your physical ability].
It is not always a negative on you. In the event that our efforts should exceed those around us, it is likely that we will feel increased levels of glee. Imagine your friend got a 60% on the test and you received an 85. How would you feel? Likely, pretty good about yourself. Even in the event that you only scored a 65%, it is probably that you would [a] internally congratulate your higher grade and [b] justify the actual low grade (in relation to the 100% maximum) by assuring yourself that if both you and your friend got a low grade, it is likely the fault of your educator and not your own.
This applies even more greatly to the population of individuals who suffer from disordered eating (keep in mind that this is not specific to individuals, like myself, who actually went so far as to restrict or purge; I am merely referring to anyone who feels any level of contempt for their own body or diet habits). When you are unhappy in your own dietary choices, it is likely that – regardless of if you wish to or not – you find yourself comparing yourself to others. You may feel disgusted by your heaping plateful, should your friend only eat half of her plate. Or, you may feel like a failure should your friend’s choices exceed yours in terms of health. You’re not alone. In fact, I feel confident that more people behave this way than would like to admit.
But here’s the kicker: although we are all told to never compare, what about when those comparisons are actually helpful?
When I am referring to is simple: every now and again I meet someone who is larger than more. Not overly large, but larger than me. They’re content, overjoyed and seem relatively in affected by their size. And furthermore, they’re often very attractive. By watching these people, and comparing them to myself, I become overwhelmed with a sense of ‘weight is not that scary and you can be happy with more of it’.
Being the recently consumer of the literature on healthy eating, not as asserted by diet and weight loss organizations, but by science, I have come to realize that it is very likely that being obese is not healthy, but neither is being very thin (unless you are naturally a thin individual) and in fact, having a little extra weight on you is far healthier than not.
This mightn’t make too much sense to you as I do have a tendency to ramble, but the take away from this is essentially that while one should never envy, it is OK to relate your personal happiness and worth to other’s perceived worth, providing that is lead to healthy choices. If you do want to eat healthier, there is no reason why you can not let your dissatisfaction of choices, as compared to your friends choices, propel you in the direction you want to go. Now just hold on. The is this the big point: you want to go. You.
In other words, if you like your diet – healthy or not – and you only feel upset due to a slew of diet-related shows and literature which tell you it is wrong, then stick with what makes you happy. Am I advocating a diet of complete garbage? No. But eat what makes you feel good. Similarly, if you are recovering and you see a girl – or boy – who is further along in their own recovery or simply ambivalent to the diet trends, there is nothing (or should not be) to stop you from using their personal attitude to inspire your own.
Where is this coming from?
Last night a met a girl who is a bit larger than I am but fully of life and happiness. She mad a few jokes about her size, indicating that even though she is not perfect, she is OK with it. She also displayed a great level of passion in her work and her life. She had been injured, causing herself to become idle for five months (I later found out was shortened due to her ‘boredom’ causing her to walk around so much on her cast, she burned a hole in the bottom). Her attitude and personality really caused me to realize that life does not need to be all about my body. This can even apply to my mother and Baba, both of whom just live life happily, without much thought into their food choices. I envy them.
Furthermore, yesterday, I also found out that a girl I work with was alone out back and fell off a ladder, breaking her leg in two places. She is in the emergency now and will be off her leg for god knows how long. Every time I hear of stories like this my emotions are two-fold:
- God damn, I hope they’re OK.
- I could not imagine if I had to be off my feet for that long. I would probably go nuts.
I am not saying that I am miraculously cured from this fear, but every single time this happens all I can think of is my own personal battles and how I wish I were stronger, mentally. I know that one day I will get there, but I do not know how or when.
I do hope she is okay. And, I do hope I will be okay.