Don't Count Me Out
I've always hated numbers. Ok, maybe not "hate" since they do impact my daily life in positive ways. But overall I really dislike numbers. Not for what they inherently are or what good they've done for me. I'm thankful for all that they've helped us accomplish and I realize that they are irreplaceable. But I've often focused on them too much and have let them play a role in defining who I am, my self-worth.
My height- I've always been taller than most. Sometimes it made me want to go crawl in a hole somewhere. I didn't want to stand out. I wanted to be that cute little girl that everyone coddled and gushed over. I wasn't "cute.” Now I know I'm beautiful, with maybe a bit more to love than others. I'm not at your eye-level. I'm at your heart-level.
My weight- A number I feared. A number that controlled my life for too long. A number that was my existence. I first noticed it when I was 10-years-old and it continued to haunt me nearly a decade later, a specter to remind me of why I wasn’t “good enough.” Now it is what it is: a number. I know when I feel good, the difference between healthy and unhealthy. A number can't translate how strong I feel after my renovation.
What I eat- For the longest time food was equal to calories. What I ate was not food, but numbers. My meals were addition problems for me to add up in my head, > or < signs ahead of or behind a prized number in my mind that helped make or break my day. Now, it’s not that I'm blind to the math behind what I ingest. It’s that I see an apple as an apple, instead of 100 calories.
My feet- I've never liked my feet. Why? They’re “too big,” obviously. The time I could have fit them into a women's size 6 shoe was probably a few months at the most, and it most definitely passed me by. Besides that, both of my second toes are crooked. My pinkie toes look like triangles. I try desperately to cover my toenails up with some pink nail polish, but it runs down into all of the uneven crevices and I have to start all over again, wasting precious minutes of my time. If only they were perfectly proportionate! My feet owe me nothing. They have taken me through Central Park, let me kick a soccer ball and feel the warm sand and the cool water. I am blessed to have them.
How many "friends" I have- 584. I know off the top of my head how many Facebook “friends” I have. As much as I try to fight it, I worry when this number fluctuates. Has someone deleted me because I am no longer important to them? What did I do wrong? Why haven't I reached 1000 yet? Delete buttons are in a fantasy world and so is the notion that I have a defined number of friends. The people who have helped me along the way-family, friends, coaches, teachers and strangers-certainly outnumber 584. There are countless people who can help you too. You just have to let them in.
How smart I am- My GPA has always been a source of great personal effort and pride. Overall, this doesn't seem like a bad thing, until you consider how utterly ridiculous it is. At the end of my first fall semester in college I came to the realization that I had spent the better part of four months working for a number: 4.0. When I earned that number, did I feel accomplished? Sort of. After waiting anxiously for weeks, there it was. Right there in black and white was the evidence that I was smart. Right? I have learned more from my eating disorder than I have in any class. “Life intelligence” can’t be measured in numbers. I can’t count the tears shed or measure the frustration I felt during my struggle. Even now I can’t graph the love I’ve experienced or give an equation to solve the problem of self-hate. All I know is that the greatest struggle of my life has proven to be my greatest learning experience.
How long I've been alive- Until now, I've equated age with living. I know I have "lived" beyond these few years. Living is an experience, not a number. That experience is tied down with a number as we try to define it so it makes sense to us. I need to live for today. And so do you, any of you who are recovering. It is impossible for us to turn our heads 180º for a reason: you can’t be stuck looking behind you when moving forward. We don’t measure visibility in “years” for a reason: a long, immeasurable future lies ahead. I promise it’s exciting, though. I promise that if you set your sights on today, tomorrow will be within your reach. And so will recovery.
How many seconds, minutes, days, months or years I have left until I've reached "the next phase" of my life- 5 minutes until class is over. 1 week until vacation starts. 2 years until I'm done with college... But then I have at least a few more years until I'm done with grad school. Oh my god-in a decade, I'll be 30. "Today" is the phase I'll be living in. Another day of life after recovery. Another “first day” of my new, beautiful life.
I've never expressed myself in numbers-why let them define who I am?
More articles in WMC FBomb by Category: Body image and body standards, Feminism, Media
More articles in WMC FBomb by Tag: Activism and advocacy, Gender bias, News