Conditional Self-Love

I speak on the topic of self-love as somebody who longs to find that place where I can say that I’m completely comfortable with who I am, no matter how my body looks. But it’s much easier said than done. I can preach about body positivity all day, but when it comes to the person writing this post, it’s as if my words are spoken in a foreign language I have yet to translate.

I can say that I am very grateful for the body I have. I am blessed to have a body that is healthy, all of its parts are functional, and its capable of incredible feats. My body allows me to enjoy every day, to walk wherever I need to go, to write and think and communicate with others and everything in between.

When you have an eating disorder, it is far too easy to take those physical benefits for granted. You get lost in your own head to the point that your body feels heavy, a burden. Your mind takes control to try and sculpt your body like clay into however it chooses, even if that is extremely unhealthy. The functional aspects of your body take the backseat to other priorities and intentions.

Even when I am in better head space and can recognize when that voice in my head is talking, I still have a relationship with my body that is…indifferent. My body is the temple that houses my soul and yet it doesn’t fully feel like a home. It’s just kind of there. And when I knowingly have body dysmorphia, I still feel the urge to analyze. I don’t know at what point I’m studying my body to appreciate it and know it better or overanalyze it until I nitpick every detail I see.

In this way, I still feel like I expect certain things from myself and how I think my body should look. A mindset that simultaneously wants to fully appreciate my body, but is only half-appreciating it. I focus on certain aspects of myself that I’m comfortable with saying that I admire them, and others I ignore entirely because I don’t know how to feel. A weird limbo between full hatred and full love. A sense of curiosity that can easily go dark.

I am a hypocrite for loving and supporting body acceptance when I have no idea what that means for myself? Who knows. I’d like to think I can “fake it until I make it,” except that I still don’t know how to respond if anybody comments about my body and how it looks. If it’s an observation, I shrug because my vision is too skewed to know the difference. It it’s a compliment, I feel like I idly accept it but deep down, I think of every word of that statement until my head is spinning. It’s so much easier to pretend that I just don’t have a earthly vessel to acknowledge, I am simply a persona floating around and living life.

But I’m stuck with this one body for the rest of my life, and it’s much harder to fight against it than with it for however long I’m granted on this earth. Just like any person I meet, whom I always choose to show respect and kindness to, why does my body not fit into that equation? Why must it feel like an exception, an alien thing that receive any attention or recognition?

I recognize these thoughts, no matter how annoying and confusing for even me to follow, let alone whoever is reading this, as progress. They are not self-destructive. They are not filled with hate and self-loathing. They are not disgusted or ashamed or uncomfortable. My mind is at a stage that isn’t very dramatic or noteworthy. I’m not flaunting my body and sharing how much I love it, but I’m not tearing it apart, either. I have points where I feel satisfied with how I am, and other times uneasy, a random grey area that we don’t necessarily acknowledge. We don’t say we have “body okayness.” While it’d be great if we could all say, without a shadow of a doubt, that we love and accept ourselves, it’s not that straightforward as we make it out to be. It’s a complicated process.

They often say that you cannot love other people until you love yourself, which, to an extent, is very true. In my opinion, I think you should definitely know who you are before trying to mix that with another person, but complete love and acceptance for others can feel easier. If anything, having an outside perspective to see you for you, a less biased opinion than your own perception, that can help. It can take off the blinders we have placed on our reflection and look beyond that very specific outlook. We stare at the same reflection every single time we pass a mirror, and when you stare at something too long, the reflection can change and become skewed. Having supportive people in your life to rebalance that is a place to start. And if others have found body positivity for themselves, we can go from their set example and how we can view ourselves in a kinder light. It’s called “self-love,” but that doesn’t you have to do it completely alone.

So don’t beat yourself up if you’re stuck in the middle and cannot say anything good or bad about the skin you live in. You have time to figure it out; don’t rush it. No matter how long it takes, the end of the journey is worth it.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie



2 thoughts on “Conditional Self-Love

  1. “It’s called “self-love,” but that doesn’t you have to do it completely alone.” –> So true. Brilliant! The mental health journey is one that simply cannot be navigated alone. So sad that so many people feel that they have no one to turn to, or fear opening up because they are worried about being judged. Thank you for sharing this perspective and encouragement.


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