I was talking with a friend recently about my recovery from Binge Eating Disorder. She asked me why I never went the route of a 12-step program or something like that.
And before I even realized it, this slipped out of my mouth: “Because I never saw it as an addiction or an eating disorder; I saw it as a personal failure. So I went to therapy to figure out why I was such a terrible person.”
As women, we’re quick to blame our bodies. Not feeling well? Of course we’re not; how could our body be trusted to not get sick?
Struggling to get pregnant? Obviously our fault — what else could be to blame?
I constantly find myself in this situation, racking up an imaginary daily tally. Checks in one column, minuses in the other.
Many days, the minuses far outnumber the checks.
Written on the Body
After all, my body bears the brunt of my frustration, anger, joy, guilt, grief and happiness. This is, of course, usually in ways I don’t notice — until I do. Until all I’ve been doing for days is looking at the computer and ignoring my body’s every cue.
Let me walk you through a typical day in my life/thought process:
Alarm goes off and I hit snooze. Finally stagger into the bathroom and splash my face with water. As I catch a glimpse in the mirror, I see the bags under my eyes. Stupid genetics. And why didn’t I go to bed earlier last night?
After breakfast with my hubby, I go to my meditation cushion. As usual, I’m unable to stay focused on that for more than 0.3 seconds. Somehow, I find myself checking my iPhone during the 10 minutes I’ve allotted to sit. If my hips were more open, if I was a better person, I would sit quietly and gently for 10 minutes without effort. I would laugh at the idea of meditating for only 10 minutes — I could sit for hours, with no need for an alarm!
Next it’s to my yoga mat, where I’ve decided it’s a great day for 57 sun salutations. Halfway through the 2nd one, though, I find myself lying on the ground, slowly stretching my hips. It feels really good. But of course it does, because I’m lazy and can’t get my sh!t together to do a “real” practice. And why are my pants so tight? Goodness — did my belly grow overnight?! How could anyone trust me as their yoga teacher?
Now I’m sitting here, writing this. My ideas are worthless because, as usual, because I didn’t follow my morning routine like I wanted to. And my nose is stuffy because I ate some gluten yesterday, even though it always makes me feel sick. And my back doesn’t feel right because I didn’t do 57 sun salutations.
The Blame Game
When I first realized how much I blame my body for everything in my life, I thought my target was wrong. I don’t need to blame my body, I need to blame an eating disorder! Or my mother! Or society!
And, sure, all those things play a role.
But what’s even more interesting to me lately is the possibility that there’s nothing to blame.
That this is just my life, and maybe the challenges I face aren’t about blame but about what I’m here to learn.
Maybe instead of blaming my body, I can see that I’m here to learn a lesson about self-trust and self-care. And to share that with others.
I’m not saying this is true for everything in life. I don’t even know that it’s true for this (certainly not universally so). But what I do know is that blaming my body never gets me anywhere.
At least nowhere good.