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The First Step I Took in Letting Go of My 'Sick Jeans'

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Today I took a big step. A step I did not think I was ready for. If you were to ask me what I would rather do besides taking the step that I took, my answer probably would be, well, anything.

Nevertheless, I went out of my comfort zone and just did it. Was I happy about it? No! In fact, I was pretty darn miserable for a while. But what was just a daunting, panic-inducing task actually turned into something wonderful.

My mom has been pushing me for a while now to go clothes shopping. All I wear is the same pair of black leggings. I wear these leggings not only because leggings are probably the most comfortable item of clothing out there, but also because they are safe for me. They are comforting — the one piece of clothing I feel OK in. But I’m starting my career as a professional. I am 25 years old. And, according to my mother, I needed an actual pair of pants — ones that look good, professional and make me feel good. I never disagreed with this point — it is a valid one. However, the idea of shopping for pants terrified me to the point of producing a waterfall of tears before leaving the house. My eating disorder did not want me to go shopping. My eating disorder has made me keep the same jeans I wore when I was my sickest in my dresser for safety. My eating disorder has been telling me that I need to keep these pants because, maybe one day soon, you will be able to wear them again.

Stop right there. 

I considered myself to be pretty much recovered from my eating disorder for the past six months or so. But this right here is a perfect example of how my eating disorder still has a hand in my life and a say over what I do.

I was not allowed to go shopping for new clothes, because that meant I would be accepting my body the way it is now, and as of this morning, I did not want to do that. My goal was to fit into at least one of my “sicker” pairs of jeans, not to buy new ones to fit this body that I do not like and do not feel the slightest bit comfortable in. But the body I have now is my version of being a healthy young woman. And this morning, I did not want the body of a healthy young woman. I wanted to hide in my leggings and fit into my teenage jeans and feel better about myself and the way I look. But I know that is not a reality. I know that going back to my eating disorder is not an option. I know that even if I can fit into those jeans again, that I still won’t be satisfied or happy with the way that I look. Losing weight is not the answer. I need to work on accepting the body I have, and loving the body I believe God gave me, the way it was meant to be.

This morning after my mom convinced me to go shopping with her, I burst into tears. I had to sit down and get myself to take deep breaths to prevent me from going into a full-blown panic attack. I just was not ready to take this step. I was terrified of the sizes I would be trying on and worried that I would hate myself in everything I picked out. And yet, I was able to get myself out of the house, into the car and to the mall.

I was down right miserable and arguing with my mom, using every other excuse in the book as to why I did not want new clothes other than that I was scared. But that’s what it came down to. My eating disorder thoughts were loud, and I was scared. My eating disorder has not gone away. It is still here, alive and well. My job, is to not listen to those lies that the eating disorder feeds me. Because you know what? I bought two pairs of pants, and I felt pretty darn good about them. I liked how they looked on me and I actually felt better about myself wearing some nice pairs of pants that actually fit. I didn’t hate my body in them, and I didn’t wish I was wearing the smallest size in the store. Somehow, after all of that, I was able to come to terms with the fact that I am healthy, and that being the smallest size doesn’t matter. My size does not define who I am. 

Do I still have my sick jeans? Yes. I took a big step today and I do not think I am ready to take an even bigger step of getting rid of them just yet. But that is my goal, to eventually give away (or destroy) these jeans of old, negative, painful memories. But for now, I am going to wear my new clothes, the ones that make me feel good in the body I have now.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

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 Thinkstock photo via OlegKov

Originally published: May 23, 2017
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