This was first published to the letter and then to the list.
Writing this letter almost brought me to tears.
I’m wearing the red jacket from four years ago.
The jacket, fierce in its redness, that I bought when I first started letting go.
Letting go of starving and purging. Letting go of restricting myself. Letting myself go and trying desperately to love myself… and in those moments, the only way I knew how to love myself was to binge.
It fit me perfectly in the year that I gained more than I ever did to induce my body image woes in the first place.
I struggled. That year (and the next, too), every family friend remarked with a sneer and a laugh on how much rounder I was getting. My mom greeted me with the familiar hello: Look how fat you are. I walked around Rive-Sud, QC in the summer in the red jacket and I took a picture of myself. I looked: finally, happy, somehow. At least for a moment.
When I slowly started learning to eat mindfully and stop binging and start recovering for real this time– not just from the restriction but from the self-harm of binging, too– the red jacket got bigger and bigger. It felt looser and looser, until one day, with somewhat regret yet gratitude that I was getting healthier, eating more sanely, and setting myself free that I took off the jacket and threw it into the closet of my childhood room.
I’m wearing it now, because it fits again.
And it’s nearing the last month of the year, and I reflect gently on this year. If it was possible to regress, I think this would be the year that I did.
Except, well, that I didn’t.
Except that whenever I think about regression, I realize it’s not really any question of regression, but of circles and cycles. That we gain and we lose, that we sleep and we wake up, that we live and we die.
That every time I “slip,” I don’t slip back. I slip forward into some new leap in growth that I’m not even aware of yet.
After all, I’m wearing my red jacket, and not a single pair of pants I own fits properly anymore, but even the stretchy ones that, despite their elasticity, usually feel uncomfortable– they feel loving and gentle on my stomach and thighs today.
That’s what I see when I look in the mirrored closet doors.
I don’t see layers of fat anymore.
Well, I do. And I see it as a fact, not a moral judgment. I see it as evidence that I’ve been eating generously, maybe not as mindfully or healthily as I’ve liked, but joyfully, kindly, wonderfully.
What I really see, though, is the strength.
The strength in all that flesh.
In all my flesh.
I see a warrior who has gone through hell and back. And back to hell. And back again.
And I see a body that is mine to love and appreciate, and I see the warrior who does her best to do that every single moment of every single day.
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Get more on the list and raw on the letter.