“[people] need to live ‘as if’. live as if they know they are worth their own time. live as if they deserve to take care of their bodies. live as if the possibility they long for actually exists.”
the quote is from geneen roth’s women, food, and god. i enjoy her writing; i find it very helpful as i fight to recover from my decades-old eating disorder. “live as if” is damn good advice and i should probably think about following it.
when you live with an eating disorder, you live in a state of waiting. you’re waiting for that magic day when you will be perfect. once you’re perfect, life can begin. when you’re perfect, you’ll be worth spending time on. when you’re perfect, you can start to take care of yourself. when you’re perfect, you can do the things you want to do, chase the dreams you dream of, and stand up for yourself. when you’re perfect you can wear what you want and act how you want. not yet, but soon. you’ll do everything you want to when you’re perfect; ‘til then, you wait.
you do not wait patiently, however. you are not kind to yourself while you’re waiting. kindness is not part of your makeup when you have an eating disorder, at least with respect to yourself. you consistently treat yourself poorly. you’re self-critical and dismissive. you’re often cruel. treating yourself gently, treating yourself like you have value, that thought never occurs.
unfortunately, while you’re waiting for things to be perfect, time passes. time marches on. time doesn’t care that we won’t join in the reindeer games because we believe our thighs are too fat. time doesn’t care that we can’t do anything because we believe our bones aren’t visible enough. time doesn’t care that we’re planning to do better soon. time doesn’t care that we are suffering; time doesn’t care that it all seems too hard. it goes on regardless.
if we wait until, if we wait until things are better, perfect, and different before we step into life, we’ll miss it. i’ve missed a lot of it. i was too busy trying to get thin to pay attention to much of anything else. i put off friendships and relationship. i didn’t take advantage of my time at school. i didn’t develop a professional life. i’ve drifted through much of my adulthood while in the grip of my eating disorder. everything, save for my son, was secondary. everything had to wait. i would have the perfect relationship when i was thin enough. i would have lots of friends and spend time with them and do fun things when i was thin enough. i would go back to school and have fantastic experiences when i was thin enough. i would develop a professional persona and career path once i was thin enough.
but time marches on. i am spitting distance to fifty, not old but nowhere close to being young either. the opportunities i passed on because i wasn’t perfect enough for them, are gone. i can’t go back and redo the things i left undone because i was waiting.
live as if.
all i can do is do it differently going forward. accept that i’m finite, that time is finite. start believing that i’m worth it. that i deserve to spend time with friends, and go out, and learn things. that i deserve to live my life. that i deserve to wear the pretty dresses and spend time on myself that isn’t made up of self-flagellation in the gym. i can choose not to do those things too, of course. i can carry on doing the same old same old, waiting instead of living but time won’t care. whatever choices i make, however i choose to fill the minutes and hours, with affirming actions or soul-destroying ones, time marches on.