Three times I tried to explain to my best friend my once-strange response to my body in the mirror. But he didn't get it. He'd say something like, "None of us really sees our body as it is." One time he said, "I look into the mirror and I still see my hair as black." (It's mostly gray now.)
"It's more than that," I said and finally gave up trying to explain. I had tried to make it clear to him that I had held a distorted view of my body. I'd read about women who were bulimic or anorexic, and that they looked into mirrors but didn't see their true shapes. It didn't occur to me that I was like that.
I never saw myself as obese, but I perceived my body as slightly on the heavy side. I'm what people refer to as wiry and occasionally someone calls me skinny. Those remarks puzzled me, because I wondered how they could talk that way. I didn't go on diets, but I did watch my weight and avoided putting on more pounds.
Then something happened, even though I can't remember the date. One morning I had showered and toweled off and looked into the mirror to comb my hair. I stared at my naked body.
"I'm thin," I said aloud. "I'm really thin."
For several minutes, I looked at myself, hardly able to believe the mirror. Then I roared in laughter. Now I knew. Now I understood when people said, "You need to put on a few pounds." Or "You're going to blow away if you get any thinner." I had always laughed and wondered what they meant.
That morning the distortion was gone. I stared at myself from any number of angles.
I can finally see my body as it is.
It seems strange that it took so long. I'd been on the healing journey for two decades. And every now and then I became aware of a new marker—evidence of healing from my childhood victimization.
That morning I felt ecstatic because the distortion was gone. And for the first time in my life, I stared at my reflection and said, "I like my body."
And it was true.