|An undated photo of me opening a Christmas gift.|
Luckily, I found an SD card squirreled away in a side pocket of my camera bag. I popped it into my camera without a second thought.
It was only later, at home, that I began to review the hundreds of old images stored on that card. My nieces and nephews. My grandmother's birthday. My dad's hunting photos. And photos of me -- at Christmas, opening a Kindle. Hanging an ornament.
The images clearly show that I am heavier than I am today. My face is very round. I don't quite look like myself. I am not sure when these photos date, but they come from a time when I was struggling with weight. Of course, I realize we are our own harshest critics.
At my heaviest, in 2013, I weighed in at about 45 pounds more than I do now. For medications associated with bipolar, a gain of 45 pounds is not that bad. But I felt terrible about the extra weight.
Those feelings of low-esteem, the eating disorder that plagued me in college and that I had never beaten would lead me to going off a key medication. I would spiral down and down and down in a massive breakdown. I lost weight, but there was a high price to pay.
|Me at Christmas 2017.|
Today, I feel good about the way I look. My mother said to me recently that "you look like you again." This is a nice feeling. I also have grown out my hair and let it return to its natural color. I feel like I am giving myself permission to be me, to look like me.
However, I need healing when it comes to self-image. I still fear weight gain, and I always think I need to lose another ten pounds. The reality is that most American women probably want to lose weight, even if they don't need to. The media we absorb send us the message that we should fight to get ever-thinner.
|A recent head-and-shoulders shot of me.|
My prayer is that I will turn this over to God, that he will enable me to be enough, to be beautiful for him. Perhaps we never really do fully "recover from" eating disorders in the sense that the thoughts go away, but maybe we stop empowering the thoughts, stop listening to them. I think the source of freedom from the things that bind us is to turn to the truest and best Source. In him, we are free indeed.
I also recognize that, even when I was at my heaviest, I was beautiful. It is something else that tells us otherwise. We all have intrinsic beauty that cannot be taken away from us, no matter how we age, the changes our bodies go through, or the weight we gain or lose. Sometimes, that feels like cold comfort, but it is absolute rock-solid truth. In a past blog, I quoted Psalms: "Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame." That is the truth about beauty and its Source.
As for me, I will put wellness first. I will exercise to stay in shape and to maintain my health, not to lose weight. Here's to being me and being happy with it.