The Selfishness of Body Dysmorphia

So we fly north tomorrow for the family/funereal weekend. My suitcase is mostly packed: I’m sure I have way too many clothes for the length of trip, but there’s a lot of different elements to plan for.

One major element is simply the way I inevitably begin to have an internal freak out whenever I’m about to see my family.

However much of a grownup I am in my day-to-day life, however much progress I’ve made in bringing fat acceptance into my life and growing my sense of self-acceptance, I still revert back to all sorts of self-judging habits when I go back into the family environment in which I spent all those awful awkward school years.

So instead of finishing my packing, instead of journaling, or showering, or doing any other thing that might better prepare me to take care of myself and support my family and honor my father — instead of any of that, I am feeling down on myself because when I am up in New England, I am “going to look like  whale” next to my older sister who got the athletic/skinny genes.

I was speaking to one of my spiritual teachers last night, looking ahead to this trip, and discussing the ways I fear it will be a more sorrowful experience for me than even the original funeral was. (His death was so sudden, I really truly think I was in shock for the funeral and a couple weeks after.) We also talked about this slide into the old “unhappy adolescent” headspace I could feel coming in, and the way that my current 40-year-old fatness has just been completely co-opted into the narrative of nasty self-talk this voice in my head spews out.

Not one to mince words, my teacher encouraged me to fight this voice. “You’ve got so many great things going on, and this is the voice that keeps you from enjoying any of it. This is the voice that shits on your life.”

And I am really angry about this internal pattern of mine tonight. So many things it’s keeping me from. I’ve listed some of those thing above, and I could sit and type and list more things for quite a while. Like the fact that I haven’t seen my niece and nephew since Christmas, and I could treasure another chance to see them, and also open my heart to be ready to support them as they face the first significant loss of their young lives. Like the fact that Matt has been so supportive of me in my grief, and how grateful I am to have him to lean on during the next few days. Like…. Like…..   Like…..

Or, to boil this down to its most essential feature: when I let myself fall into this space of dysmorphia and self-hatred, it keeps me from my life.

7 thoughts on “The Selfishness of Body Dysmorphia

  1. frauhedgehog

    What often helps me get through that sort of feeling is making a concrete plan that involves connecting to others, i.e., “no matter what I’m feeling about myself I will speak with these five people and ask them these questions, listening to everything they say.”
    Good luck. If nothing else, it’s just 48 hours.


  2. I had the same feelings before heading home for a vacation with family a couple weeks ago. I did my best to talk myself out of it, but was kind of shocked at how quickly and not at all attenuated those feelings were, after everything I’ve gone through to get to a place where most of the time I’m happy with me. And then I looked at the vacation photos, and find I’m still, a week later, fighting those demons.


  3. Melissa

    I totally get what your saying, especially in relation to family!
    If you’ve got internet connection whilst there it might be helpful to visit some of the pages in the FA, just to stay connected to that positive voice!!!!

    Good luck I empathize to the extreme


  4. Well, the trip’ s halfway through and so far I’m managing to stay in the moment rather than falling too far into the dysmorphic headspace. The memorial’s this afternoon, so I can’t say I expect a fun day ahead, but we’ll get through it with each other.


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