Although my bodily dissatisfaction is born out of the most intricate combination of the fear of change – more specifically, of growing up – and inadequacy, something less profound markedly affects the way I feel about my body: temperature. And boy is this frustrating.
Even after years of therapy, of tapping into my unconscious to become more in-tune with my needs, I still live in a constant state of siege between my mind and body. Sure today’s mental and physical war is decidedly less fiery than it was in my late teens, but an unwelcome tension between my body and soul still lingers: not a day goes by that I don’t criticize my figure, and even though I can reason with my inner beast enough to temporarily subdue it, I cannot seem to kill it. As the former Queen of Anhedonia, it is encouraging that dysphoria is but a mere pawn today, but I long for the day when my physical body has no authority over my mood. In other words, I long for the day when summery weather doesn’t make me feel fat. And I long for the day when how I feel about my body doesn’t dictate what I wear.
On hot days, I feel one hundred times heavier. Nothing will change in my routine – I’ll eat the same things at the same times and I’ll exercise the same amount – but all of a sudden I’ll feel like a bloated tick. That, or a sea cow, as my friend Maggie likes to say. You know those people who are like, “It’s hot, let’s get ice cream,” well that is certainly not me; hot days are always a battle for me and food, and although I do eat gelato religiously in the summer, feeling okay with doing so requires me to whip out the toolbox filled with self-soothing tools that my ex-therapist and I put together during our weekly sessions for three years.
What would it be like to wear a strapless dress without even thinking about my arms?
What would it be like to wear a bikini top without cowering at my exposed stomach?
What would it be like to feel comfortable in my skin?
What would it be like to be confident?
Day in and day out, I therapize myself, encouraging my body and my mind to call a truce, but change is glacial in nature, and my progress is charted not in leaps and bounds but in baby steps. And I am okay with this. Will I ever be at one with my body? Truthfully, it’s hard to lay down a definitive yes, but I sure am doing my darnedest to love what I have: a strong heart, four fully functioning limbs, a sharp brain, and an old soul to top it all off. The heat may take away some of my sanity, but it cannot take away my self.