Deprive: To deny (a person or place) the possession or use of something.
I’ve struggled with food, body image, and restriction for most of my conscious life. As far back as I can remember, I have felt that my body is bad, that food is bad, and that to deprive myself of the things I might want will equate to happiness. Because clearly, thin equals happy, and anything else will not suffice.
I went through a brief period of self-discovery, with the assistance of a dietitian and a therapist. I initially went to the dietitian to learn how to eat better meals to gain muscle most effectively. I’d started doing some serious weightlifting at the gym, and wanted to set myself up for success. I’d lost a considerable amount of weight, and wanted to work with what I had to continue the improvement journey. What I discovered was that I lived with disordered thoughts around food, exercise and body image.
I wish I could tell you that I never deprive myself of the things I desire. That I allow myself to indulge guilt-free. That my time working with Jess and Aimee healed me. It didn’t. It helped, and for a while I was ok, but then I broke my foot, and was unable to work out for a few months, and the weight crept back on. In a panic, I went to a doctor who prescribed me a weight-loss pill. In about 2 months, I lost about 15 pounds. I felt better, and my relationship with my boyfriend was better because I didn’t hate me so much.
An innocuous comment from said boyfriend last night sent me into a tailspin. I started to panic about food, threw away sweet things in my house, and started to plan how to lose weight again. I obsess over it. It becomes my identity. I disguise it with concern over being healthy. “I don’t want to lose weight, no, I just want to live a healthier lifestyle”. No one can argue with that, right?
That has its own class of -exia, called orthorexia. It’s dangerous, because I can convince anyone that what I’m doing is for my benefit, when really it has become detrimental.
Let me clarify. Being conscious of the food choices I make is not bad. Being hyper-aware of the choices I make, obsessing about them, and eventually punishing myself for them, is bad. Working out to feel good and shape up is not bad. Working out excessively because of a need to ‘make up for’ the food choices that I made, or because I’m sad or scared, is not necessarily a positive choice.
I don’t know how to do this. It’s strange that deprive was today’s word prompt – I just reached back out to Jess and Aimee today. I’m afraid of the road that I’m headed down. I have planned out my workouts and am gearing up for another bout of 5 day a week exercise routines. I don’t want to obsess anymore. I also don’t want to be heavy. I don’t know how to love me for me, right now, without body-checking and tearing myself apart for all of the flaws that I have. Deprivation and self-castigation are all I’ve ever really known.