While I have addressed this during my stages of DBT, I do see I have more room to improve in it. I am surprised to have discovered that the way that I view myself is the anchor that has dug into the bottom of the ocean. Everything that happens from that on determines where my boat floats. I have traced this fluctuation of over-eating to over-drinking to over-spending and back around to over-eating (or under eating, privately eating and privately purging) Really that kind of eating is termed Emotional Eating, it is not mindful eating, which has always been a goal of mine that seems to need perpetual attention. Of course this understanding really shouldn't be a surprise, I mean how many times have we heard that self-esteem is the bases for our perception of life and that our only limitations in life are our perceptions. Never-the-less, I was surprised to come to understand how controlling self-esteem is.
Right, so this is where I understand that I have not accepted that I need to like myself better. I mean, I have learned to like myself enough to want to be a better person and lead an improved life. But I need to like the way I look. I never considered myself to be a vain person. I am a low maintenance woman, I do not melt in the rain and I take care to not "let myself go" conversely I do not need to wear make-up everywhere I go, I have no problems wearing a sporty little hat when I don't have time to "do" my hair. I do not hold up the family by taking hours putting myself together. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy dressing up or doing myself up. It makes me feel girly and I like it. I like to have matching under-clothes because they make me feel pretty, but I am not going to break the bank by purchasing the lastest and greatest of clothing because I believe the beauty of a person lies in their integrity and values.
I do not weigh myself on the scales of accomplishments and what others think of me does not determine my successes. I have come to love the person I am. I enjoy reminding myself of the qualities that make me a lovable and caring person, someone people enjoy having around. I am humble about my less-than-attractive qualities that are on my self-improvement list. I am honest that I do own a list like that too!
These positive affirmations are exactly what I have learned when I reached the point that I needed to work on my self-esteem. But guess what?
I am more vain that I once believed.
Not vanity in terms of what I want others to see of me, like my hair, my make-up and whether I have wrinkles around my eyes, that comes with age and I get that. I am vain in the way that I see me. My world comes to an end if I gain ten pounds because I don't like seeing it. My world comes to an end if my eyes have dark circles or I feel unpretty because I don't like it. I don't just not like it, I loathe it. It paints the picture for the entire day sometimes. It affects my mood, whether the sun is really shining or not. To me, that is a bit over-the-top, wouldn't you agree? That isn't effective living.
That reality was hidden from myself by myself. I didn't want to know that about myself. It's pretty typical that the average person has an "off" feeling when they gain a few pounds, or look a little more tired. But it doesn't devastate them. They are able to have a small reaction to a small "problem" - My perception is that, while I logically know it is a small "problem" to a gain a few pounds or be bloated, I have a gigantic reaction to it. It isn't a few pounds, it is TEN! To me anyways, then I spiral, I go to emotional eating or one of my other default coping mechanisms, and I then take a few pounds and I have made the TEN pounds a reality. I sabotaged myself by my own behavior.
Now, understand this, I attacked those coping mechanisms when it came to my mental health and triggers, or social interactions. I had learned that I could go to a social function and not have to "cope." I learned that those coping skills were ineffective for daily life. But what I was doing without realizing it, when it came to my body image (which is wrapped up in the package of self-esteem, that I so conveniently ignored) I reverted to those coping skills so quickly that it made my head spin. At first I denied to myself that I was engaging in those old coping mechanisms. Because of that denial, I didn't see myself emotionally eating until it was too late, until emotional eating had become the norm.
So part of breaking free from denial, I felt it necessary to post this revelation. It may seem to be a no-brainer to a lot of you, but to me I was shocked to realize how much my body image was affecting my daily living and I fully intend to attack this like there is no tomorrow. I've got my boxing gloves on and I am ready to fight.