to integrate mind and body

We are one. We have component parts but for us to be whole, they have to work together. Our mind doesn’t function without our body, and our body doesn’t work without our mind.

Why, then is it so difficult to get them on the same page? Why do I feel like more than one entity?

When you have an eating disorder, you’re at war with your body. It becomes separate from who you are. The body is the enemy; it’s the thing that must be vanquished in order to make the mind okay.

It’s a nonsensical proposition, and yet it is the thought that consumes you all day, every day. The body must be overcome. The body must be perfected. It is only then that you can be peaceful and happy.

To be honest, happy was always far down the scale. It was peace I wanted. I wanted my brain to stop harassing me. I wanted it to stop saying horrible things to me. I wanted to feel not wrong. I wanted to be perfect. I thought that if I could make myself perfect, I would be able to find some quiet inside myself. And yet, I never thought to work on my thoughts, only on my externals.

The flawed logic insisted that if the body could be corrected, the mind could be at ease.

It never occurred to me that they could and probably should work together.

That I was one thing, one person, not two. That I cannot separate my body from who I am, nor did I need to.

Treating them as distinct entities meant my brain never felt bad about the damage I was inflicting on my body. I felt bad about the eating disorder behaviours. They shamed me; bingeing and purging was such a loss of control, such an embarrassing and disgusting thing to do. My brain is kinder to me when I restrict, at least on the self-recrimination front. It still attacks my perceived shortcomings and lack of physical perfection.

Treating my body and brain as distinct meant that I never understood that my behaviours would ultimately harm my mind as well. Unfortunately, constant starvation and poor eating takes a toll. Thoughts become even less logical and coherent, and the attacks on the body intensify.

You want to get better. You don’t understand that better isn’t a number on a scale or a size on a pair of jeans. Better has nothing to do with your body at all. It’s a distraction, a way of coping; you’re not working on the problem where it actually exists. Bigger thighs don’t cause harm, judgement and criticism from yourself about your thighs certainly can.  

Recovery means a lot of things. It means stopping bingeing. It means stopping purging in all its forms. It means no more starvation. But that’s just the physical stuff. Other things are required. You have to address the thoughts that drive the behaviours. You have to address the beliefs that drive the thoughts. You have to integrate.

I have to figure out how to be one. One mind and body. Not a fractured and separated creature. We can’t heal without putting together the bond that’s broken.

I thought it would happen automatically, but I’ve concluded I was wrong. I have to facilitate a reconciliation. I have to learn to appreciate and like my body. Just thinking thoughts like that is stressful, but I know it has to be done.

I’m going to work on a directed gratitude list for a month (or perhaps a bit more; I like symmetry, ending mid-month hurts). Every day, I’m going to be grateful for something that has to do with my body. I’ve read a lot and been told many times that I have to talk nicely to my body and learn to love it in order to appreciate it. I need to appreciate it if I’m going to accept it. And, I need to accept if I’m to have a chance at integration, as living as one me, not two.   

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