Celebrating the woman in the mirror? 🪞 Who is the fairest of them all? That concept for me is often very triggering. I really despise mirrors and reflections and pictures of myself! Well unless I control the perfect filter of course! I think that I'm not alone in my reflection that I often feel chained by my physical imperfections and weaknesses.
Sex and intimacy were robbed from me such a long time ago that I've forgotten how beautiful and miraculous my own body as a woman is. It's taken a very long time and a lot of work in counseling and in a women's support group, as well as confiding in my best friends, but finally I feel like I may enter 2024 with some renewed hope. I actually have plans to visit my first adult store for the first time ever! That is game changing for me. The concept of caring for myself in an intimate physical way is foreign to me and I have found that I absolutely must be intentional about my actions and conquer my own fears first in order to actually bloom.
How did things get this bad? I definitely have been an emotional eater since I can remember. I started binge eating in my teens and developed bulimia in late high school, early college years. I had a sister who struggled very badly however with an eating disorder and, as her champion, I buried my own pain and instead just binged and fasted. That became my reality for most of my life.
The reality is also blurred with my misconception. I've let some idealized notion drag me further than necessary down a road that has muted my needs when it comes to self image. Acquiring HIV has indirectly caused me to add on multiple layers of shame and feelings on unworthiness.
Such shame leads to self consciousness which ultimately can lead to a body dysmorphic disorder, where one is obsessed with a particular flaw (for me, it's my abdominal pouch) that can create repeated avoidance behaviors.
I am ultimately left holding on empty-handed to strained relationships, with my soul drained. Loss is real and visceral. With a broken heart, learning to pick up my life, I've had to relearn to live again and to find not only my points of joy as well as love language, but I also had to work to LOVE my BODY!
Ouch!!! These are really painful baby steps that are progressive- lifting up and holding me accountable.
In other words... Socialization is truly a cure for more than my loneliness. It directly affects my self image and is helping me to shed some unwanted weight and a few inches.
If you are like me and struggle with your body image, especially feeling attractive or desirable, and find yourself angry at yourself for bad choices in portion size, binge eating, poor nutrition choices, lack of exercise and lack of motivation to truly fix the issue despite repeated weight loss or nutrition visits... you are not alone. Accountability to self and others will conquer demons and slay dragons that eat at our soul.
How do I know, however, there is hope? Why do I even bother to discuss this on an open forum? Aren't some topics better left unsaid?
I know there is HOPE because I am living it! I am in this holiday season and I am able to plan ahead, visualizing me actively participating!
I bother to discuss this topic because YOU MATTER! The epidemic of obesity in women living with HIV is well documented.
"Truth is powerful and it prevails." - Sojourner Truth
You got this. We got this. We can do it.
Please keep reading. Reach out for help!
- Binge-eating disorder (Mayo Clinic)
- Get Help (National Eating Disorders Association)
- The Connection Between Stress, Binge Eating and Mental Health (United We Care)