THE BRICK WALL
I have always thought of myself as a courageous person, one not really driven by fear. However, my therapist was able to see past that façade, even when I didn’t even know that it was a façade. He challenged me to ask “What fear is driving this?” whenever I have a difficult experience, body comparison, or destructive thought. And, surprisingly (at least to me), when I did find out the biggest fear that was driving my behavior, I found that it was this fear that was holding me back. Once I finally realized it for what it was, it felt like a brick wall was directly in front of me. So here goes.
My biggest fear is that whenever my weight finally “normalizes,” that my body shape and size will be something that I cannot accept. For too long I have had a number in my head of what I should weigh, a BMI range that I need to stay within, a dress size that I need to fit into. Numbers, numbers, numbers. For too long I have based my worth on these numbers—that if the number is too high, then it means that I am not good enough, that I am a failure, that I am unlovable, that I am ugly and disgusting. For too long, I have had this dream picture of myself, this ideal image that if I finally reach, I can be really, truly happy.
And, to tell you the truth, I have been at that “ideal” number (weight, BMI, dress size, etc.) and it was one of the darkest periods of my life where I was being ravaged by an eating disorder. For too long, I have based my self-worth on numbers. So, understandably, my biggest fear is that when my body normalizes, it will not be what I have dreamed and hoped for all these years.
Discovering this was my biggest fear was really quite shocking to me. I knew it was my biggest fear because whenever I began thinking about it, I felt great anxiety, like I was running and running but hitting a brick wall every time. This fear was truly stopping me from progressing with IE.
BUILDING A BRIDGE
Once I realized this was my biggest fear, I began to discuss with my therapist how to turn that wall, made from bricks mortared together by societal pressures and unrealistic expectations into one made from sponges, or even better, a wall with a window through, and even best, a wall with a bridge over it. I don’t expect and I do not want to pretend that this fear has never been there (by making the wall disappear), but I do expect to be able to build a bridge over it so that I continue on with my life without being hindered by fear. And maybe, just maybe, this brick wall can act as a support for the bridge, making the bridge stronger than it could have been without the wall. If you are understanding me, I am suggesting, even hoping, that someday this whole thing—my eating disorder, my battle with food and my body—will become one of my greatest strengths.
I know this is hard, but what is your biggest fear? Is it holding you back? How can you build a bridge over your wall?