For most of my adult life, I had no real body image. I looked in a mirror like everyone else, but I didn't "see" myself. Now that I can see how I look, I'm amazed and wonder why I couldn't do it before.
I'm sure that caused my distorted concept, but it now seems strange to write that. When I looked in the mirror I didn't see myself as fat, but I thought I was probably a little overweight. If you knew me, you'd realize how silly that sounds. My assistant, Twila, teases that I have zero body fat—exaggerated but close. I am thin, or sometimes people called me wiry. But I didn't know I was thin.
That's one of the strange things that happens to us survivors. Many of us carry around distorted perceptions of our bodies. And most of us know it affects our behavior and attitude.
After 20-plus years of dealing with abuse I've been able to look at myself and see what I look like. About a year ago I stared at myself in a mirror and thought, my legs are thin, aren’t they?
Right after Christmas I saw a picture of myself when I was about 30 years old, taken in Africa where we lived, and long before I faced my molestation. "I was thin!" I yelled out, hardly able to believe that I had always been on the slim-and-trim side.
As I stared at that picture I thought, if I couldn't see my body properly, how much of myself did I see incorrectly?
I can answer only that each day I see my true self a little more clearly. And even better, I like myself more than ever before. Or is it the other way around? Because I like myself better, I have a true picture of who I am.
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