lay claim to the small victories

i’m wearing pants that fit today.

this may sound like no big deal. you may be wondering why i’d consider that a victory at all.

if you don’t have an eating disorder, and regularly wear clothing in the appropriate size, i suppose it wouldn’t be. that, however, is not my style.

i tend to the large, the baggy, the loose-fitting, and the extremely casual. baggy yoga pants (yes, that’s a thing) and a very large t-shirt are my de facto dress mode. occasionally i substitute baggy jeans or a baggy pair of dress pants on the bottom, but the outfit is pretty much a uniform.

i wish i could say i make up for my lackadaisical dressing by expending extra effort on my hair, make-up, and accessories, but that would be a lie. i am, however, getting better.

i’ve been moisturizing and applying foundation and mascara pretty consistently for several months now. i got my ears re-pierced and i change the earrings every day. sometimes, i blow dry my hair.

the clothes, however, have remained resolutely oversized.

i like them too large because of the small problem i have, wherein i hate my body, every scrap, and every inch of flesh. i cover it up so no one can get a hint as to the true and grotesque state of affairs going on underneath. at least that’s what my eating disorder tells me people will think.

you’re gross. you’re fat. you need to hide yourself away. what would people think if they could see your thighs, your ass, your chest, your stomach?

it’s not lost on me that my eating disorder tries to strip away any hint that i’m female. that’s a common theme among many women with disordered eating. a desire to present an image devoid of any form of femaleness. in my case, i suppose it’s at least partially driven by a fear that should i be seen as female, abuse will result. unfortunately, knowing the why of something and doing something about it are two completely different things.

i started buying better clothes when i left rehab almost four years ago. my closet is full of dresses and shoes and scarves and jeans in the correct size and fashionable tops that fit. i’ve even, albeit with discomfort, occasionally worn them. that becomes an exercise in endurance since while they’re on, i continually dialogue with my brain to prevent myself from fleeing and changing into something more sartorially challenged.

i ignore the idea of wearing them. mostly, they appear to be for show. i have a well-decorated closet.

in addition to the body hatred, there’s the whole “you’re not worth it” thing but a large part of the problem is the way the clothes feel when they’re on. if i can feel the shirt, if i can feel the pant legs, if i can feel the dress or the socks, then it must mean that they don’t fit correctly, which must mean that i’m too fat.

i’ve yet to get to a point where i’m comfortable ignoring the sizes assigned to my clothes. anything over a two i consider a sign of great personal failure, notwithstanding the fact that i’m a grown-ass woman who comes in at slightly taller than 5’7”. it’s not realistic for me to expect to have the body of an eleven-year-old girl. then again, reality-based assessments have little to do with an eating disorder.

but today i’m wearing pants that fit and so far, it’s been alright. this is partly because the denim is fairly stretchy and i’m not aware of any binding of cloth, and partly because the friend that gave them to me has she’d outgrown them.

she’s gained about five pounds over the past year, mostly a function of the fact that she’s in a happy and stable relationship. rather than let a minor weight gain affect her sense of self and make herself miserable, she decided, like the well-adjusted person she is, that she would simply buy new pants that fit and get rid of the old one. i consider that decision nothing short of miraculous.

if a pair of my pants is too small, it wrecks everything until the condition has been remedied. it sends me spiraling through the roof, metaphorically speaking. i start to viciously restrict and compulsively over-exercise until the situation is remedied. until then, all i hear in my head is fat, fat, fat. it seems to me, however, that her way is better.

so i put on the pants. they fit well. i don’t look like a bag lady. i feel okay.

i did not help anyone heal, i didn’t solve a significant societal problem, or make a brilliantly important scientific discover designed to solve all the environmental issues facing us. i put on pants. yet for me, this is a huge accomplishment and i’ve decided to treat it as the victory it is.

we are hard on ourselves, almost compulsively so. it would be better if we were to claim the small victories and celebrate them, which is what i’m going to do today.

celebrate the small wins. after all, they’re important.

4 thoughts on “lay claim to the small victories

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