To Feel Attractive

I’ve been doing quite well lately. My mood hasn’t dipped down too far lately. I’m kept pretty busy at work, which I really crave and enjoy. My anxiety has been okay, but I still clam up in stressful and/or crowded situations. Even eating has continued to feel more normal. This has to be one of the longest periods where I haven’t felt consumed by food rather than the other way around.

However, I do have an aspect of myself that just feels very weird to me to think about. I don’t know if others feel similar about themselves, but that’s why I want to write it out, and if you resonate with anything I say, at least know that you aren’t alone.

My relationship with my physical body is practically nonexistent. I personally think it would be much easier if I was just a floating soul, a gust of air moving through life. And it’s not that I’m unappreciative of my health and the abilities I have, being able to move and think and all that jazz. It’s more of my actual appearance that bamboozles me.

It’s very complicated to explain. I guess I feel indifferent. I don’t bash myself down like I used to, but I also don’t have much emotion when people say I’m pretty or attractive or whatever compliment they throw at me. I don’t know how to really respond. In a polite situation, I thank the person, but if it’s someone I’m close with, I either just let the comment roll off me or try to disprove it.

I’ve come to be comfortable with myself. I’ve found some sense of balance that I can not always yo-yo around with my weight. And I like where I’m at. But with my set point, I realize that I’m still a smaller person. I don’t necessarily consider myself petite or whatever word out there, but I also think that can be a good thing, to be content with yourself at a healthy state.

I am just me. But “just me” isn’t appealing to others usually. I joke that I slightly look like a young boy, and that’s just how I’m built. I along with most people am not a representative of what the media and society deem as “attractive” or “sexy.” I think what bothers me the most is not believing people like my boyfriend, who says he’s attracted to me and I’m completely dumbfounded by that. My face is fine, but everything else? Just pretend it’s not there. There isn’t that much there, anyways.

While it’s not the obsessive focus I’ve had with my figure, it can feel like a complete avoidance of it altogether. I flip-flop from one end of the spectrum to the other and cannot seem to reach a balance. Rather than needing to weigh myself every chance I get, I completely avoid it altogether. It’s an anxiety of knowing just one little misstep could lead to potential relapse, and that scares me.

All of this inner debate makes me wonder then, how skewed is my body image still, even when I’m on a great track with food? This is where body dysmorphia comes in. No amount of counseling can “cure” me of that. It’s just another included feature of imbalanced neurotransmitters. I can accept that. I can still fully enjoy my life and feel content. I don’t feel like I’m missing out by never putting on a pair of shorts or a swimsuit. There are so many important things in life to think about. All I care about at this point is that I’m physically and mentally healthy.

As you can see, it’s a delicate bridge I walk on. I carry on my days hoping people notice me for my work ethic and personality, but we’re so geared to observing our “book covers” before taking a read inside. That’s just human nature. I can accept that, but it’s more difficult for others to understand my different perspective.

Personally, I’m never one to comment on others’ bodies not knowing how they’re feeling inside. That’s not important to me, as long as you’re a good person. But in a romantic relationship especially, I don’t know how to comprehend the simplest positive comments from my partner. I feel almost shameful about that. I feel like I sound ungrateful or even rude for not wanting a reminder of how my body looks. It seems like such a normal thing in a relationship, but being considered attractive is something I cannot grasp. I dwell on it far too long.

We focus so much on recovery for eating disorders and body dysmorphia, as conditions people can completely overcome and lead normal lives. I wish there was more awareness about that minority that struggles more often, that still takes it a day at a time. Too often we think of that mental voice as a clear indicator that you aren’t “healed” already, but if it’s just part of your anatomy, an aspect of yourself you can’t completely change, what then? You cannot tell me all the hard work and effort I’ve put in and continue to put in to take care of myself isn’t enough.

I wish I had a solution to my problem. A way to convince myself that my body is a part of me that looks a certain way and I can clearly see that in the mirror or believe it when someone tells me so. As with anything about myself, that is just a work in progress.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

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