It’s been about six years since I recognized myself in the mirror.
Today I did.
I don’t think I can accurately convey how much it matters. I’m a little teary just writing about this.
The last time I seeing myself without distortions–Kate, and not some parody of her–I was about fourteen. Somewhere, and–chicken and egg style–I’m not sure when, I stopped being able to see an accurate reflection. You can take a picture of me, put it in my hands and stand me in front of a mirror, and I can squint and focus and tilt my head and know that it’s the same Kate in the photo and reflection. But I just can’t see it. I can’t stop seeing an endless collection of Too Big and Horrid and Undesirable.
It’s a special kind of hell that refuses to let you know your own body.
I’ve had braces since then. Cut off nearly all my hair–twice. I’ve worn a prom dress and makeup and high heels for the first time. And during all of that, I’ve hated my reflection so much that I’ve tried to avoid it. I’ve missed some awful fashion choices and probably some great ones too.
But today, just for a second, I glanced in a full-length mirror and just saw…me. Not me, slowly expanding before my eyes, and not some hideous creature. Just me.
I didn’t stare too long–I was a little afraid it would change. But it was wonderful. I’ve grown! I’m taller! And now I can stop and notice it…and just notice that.
I don’t want to be falsely optimistic here. I’ve also had my worst breakdown in years this December. Sometimes it’s still easier to curl in a ball in bed than face a closet of clothes. And I’m lucky. I get therapy and friends and a support system that calls and a partner who holds me when I can’t do anything but obsess.
But it means that maybe there can be an end. That “doesn’t behave like an anorexic” isn’t necessarily the top of the mountain. That maybe at some point I’ll stop negotiating food around timers and schedules and journaling and daily menus. I don’t know if I will, but I’d like to think so.
People don’t always mend, no matter how much you want to knit them back together.
I’m not saying you’ll stop being broken. But I am saying those pieces might not always be so jagged.