The Weight of a Memory
127 days. 3,408 hours. 182,880 minutes. 10,972,800 seconds… but who’s counting?
That’s how long it has been since I have sat down and written anything. Now there is a litany of reasons I can blame for this writer’s block… you know, the usual- depression, work is “too busy,” COVID, etc. But if I stop to think, I can only point blame at one thing- this nagging feeling of inadequacy that has been convincing me that I have nothing good enough to say and share.
Well, that ends today.
As most of these posts go, this one begins in my therapist’s office. I have this super endearing, but relatively annoying, habit of waiting until the last 5 minutes of session to mention something super important so I can dodge fully addressing it until the following week… 10/10 definitely do not recommend this to anyone is in therapy; face your damn feelings, they will catch up with you one way or another. But I digress. We were rounding out session yesterday and I said that I had been browsing through old pictures from high school and college and was left nearly speechless in the feelings that these photos brought up for me. And in that moment as session was ending, my therapist told me to write.
A few weeks ago, I had stumbled across these pictures and it was like a train wreck, there was absolutely no looking away. I scrolled and scrolled and with every single picture I laid my 27-year-old eyes on, all I could see was my body, but not in a way I had ever expected. This wasn’t me looking at younger versions of myself and wishing I could go back to having that 15, 18, or even 23-year-old body. It was me looking at bodies that were never mine to begin with.
Each picture was a snapshot of my eating disorder; a glimpse into a moment that should have been mine, but instead was held captive by body obsession, restricting, purging, and an outcry of self-hatred. I stared at these pictures wishing I could see more than a body. I prayed that I could remember what my high school prom, college bars crawls, and post grad milestones felt like. But instead, malnourished bodies and fake smiles were all I saw. And for the first time ever, I was able to look at that 15, 18, and 23-year-old girl with compassion and grace, rather than the judgement that I have so easily thrown onto myself in the past.
Oh, what I wouldn’t give to go back and tell those versions of me that fear of gaining weight, low self-esteem, and repressed traumas were robbing me of experiences that were right in front of my eyes. And that it wouldn’t be until I made peace with that body rather than fighting tooth and nail to change it, that I would fully understand the weight of my life.
You see, I don’t want to have my 15, 18, or 23-year old body back, instead I wish I could go back and tell myself that everything will be okay. That every moment of pain would be worth it, and that ultimate happiness will have nothing to do with what size jeans I fit into. Because when I look at pictures now, I don’t automatically see a body- I feel a moment and reminisce on a memory that I was actually cognizant for. And I know I said it has nothing to do with jean size, but I don’t find it coincidental that it took me reaching a point of weight restoration and food freedom to feel this happy and present in my body and life.
So, here’s to many more years of looking back and seeing beyond a body. To remembering how I felt with each smile, at each milestone, and in every moment. Because if this year has taught us anything, it is that life is too damn short to worry about how you look in a photo that will one day become your only connection to a memory that is so rightfully yours.
What would you tell your past self if you had the opportunity?
-Written by Megan S.