Remember when I said “Hell yes” to my body?
That meant I started saying “No” when you asked for it.
It’s that simple. My body. My choice.
Or so you would think.
I’ve written a lot lately about what it’s like to date with an eating disorder.
Let’s just say it hasn’t been easy, at least up until now that I’ve finally come to a place that puts me and my body first.
I finally wrote the permission slip to put myself out there, both with my recovery story and in the dating world because I was ready. But I’d like to share a few thoughts on here to help portray the landscape of what this really looks like for me.
There was a time not too long ago where I felt like I had no control over my body.
My eating disorder played me like a pawn in a game of chess. My next move was directed by a master who knew how to put me in check with one simple move.
The body dysmorphia skewed the vision I had of myself. I’d look into the mirror and see a reflection of something no one else saw. A distorted version I couldn’t recognize. Even my own two eyes had zero control over what my body was allowed to see or have a say in how I viewed the vessel I lived in every day.
I decided it was best not to date. Not until I had gotten to a point where I was in a better mindset, on the upward hill towards my recovery.
It wasn’t until I found myself binge watching the latest season of Grey’s Anatomy (my absolute not-so-guilty pleasure) that I started feeling this sense of loneliness. Not the kind I associated with my eating disorder. A different kind. One that said, “Wow, it would be really nice for some companionship right now. Someone to sit and watch over dramatized hospital television with. Something simple.”
I brought this up to my therapist and she smiled at me.
“Lauren, it’s not black or white. You don’t have to completely isolate yourself from others, especially when it comes to dating. What you believe is that you either have to be completely alone to focus on yourself or, on the flip side of the coin, you’re afraid you’ll lose yourself completely in another person and abandon your recovery. It’s possible to have both. Again, it’s not black and white. Maybe it’s time to start practicing how to flex your muscles.”
And she was right.
I’ve learned one very important lesson over the last two years:
“The only thing I need to control is my recovery.”
Boy of boy has that been eye opening. Life is filled with things we can’t control, but my recovery is now something I can. It’s the only thing that I can. And with my recovery comes a control over my entire body. Not just what I eat, how I eat, when I eat. But also how I see myself, how I love myself, how I dress myself. I have full control.
So now, I’ve decided to start flexing my muscles in the world of dating. So far it’s been wonderful. I’ve met a lot of really amazing people. New friends have entered my life and my eyes have been opened to new ways of thinking from various perspectives of other people in the same life boat just trying to navigate this weird world we are living in.
But the thing I have noticed is a sense of entitlement from other men. I am a heterosexual woman, but I truly believe that this isn’t a woman to man issue. This is an issue regardless of sexual orientation or preference.
How long has my body been used for the means of others? How many times have I allowed myself because of my inner weakness to be physically pushed around, told how to dress, been called a whore, been forced to procreate (ya, #MeToo is still f*cking real folks).
Since I have gained control over my recovery and my body, they have become my top priority and I refuse to ever let someone control again. Who I date, how I date, when I date. All of that, is completely up to me. Not anyone else.
I don’t owe anyone anything.
I don’t need to give anyone an explanation.
I don’t have to be with one person unless I make that call because it’s something I want.
It’s called a discussion for a reason.
It’s called dating for a reason.
It’s called a two-way street for a reason.
It’s called autonomy for a reason.
There is no way in hell that this is some new revelation I am having. I know people have experienced this time and time again, myself included.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that with my eating disorder in control, I am just now visibly seeing how many other ways other people have made it their prerogative to also have control over my body throughout the course of the last ten plus years. I am in no way shape or form going to lose control over my body again. Not to myself, and sure as hell not to anyone else.
The difference between who I am in the dating sphere now and last fall is that they are two completely different people. Now, I have learned to love myself. Now I have learned that I have full control over my body.
It’s MY body. It’s MY choice.
It is not property of anyone. I choose if I want to be with someone. I choose if I want, when I want, and how I want to give and receive touch. I choose if my heart is willing to be open or doesn’t feel like it’s the right time or place for me. I choose what and when I eat. I choose to love myself. I choose to speak only of the highest regards about this body, mind, and soul.
So class, what lesson have we learned today?
My body. My choice. End of story.