I am at that stage of recovery from this eating disorder where the weight gain and body changes that are such a crucial part of the process mean that the clothes that once hung loosely on my unhealthy frame are now either too small or certainly a lot more fitting than they once were!
Clothes that were once too big but which I kept in my wardrobe for years, with the intention of my ‘growing into them’ when I was better, are also now becoming snug.
When I see clothes in the shops now, I realise that I cannot be certain what size I am but it certainly is not the smallest available and I browse with the knowledge that buying something that fits well now would be unwise as I know to recover that my body still has plenty more change and growth ahead.
Although I am not unhappy with my ‘recovery body’ and the amount I have gained up until now, on a day when the eating disorder is louder, the weight changes and thought of more growth can be harder to cope with. The clothes that I wear can now make or break how I feel in my growing body that day.
Wearing clothes that are a bit too tight or clothes that once hung loosely but now fit snugly can cause not just physical but also mental discomfort.
I also find that putting on clothes that I had kept with the intention of growing into them, to find that they either now fit well or are even a little tight, also triggers some mental gymnastics….
Lately, each morning I find myself standing in front of my wardrobe and deliberating over what to wear… what fits, what do I feel comfortable in, what hides the parts of my growing body that I am not used to yet?
I have never been a big fashion person. I am usually the first person to put on whatever comes to hand to wear for the day and not over think the process…
Now though I can change into three different outfits before landing on something that I feel I can cope with for that day – something that I feel hides enough of my new curves and that does not rub in places that will make me self conscious while I try to keep eating and allowing myself to believe that further weight gain is necessary.
Because of all this, I lately realised it was time to do the dreaded sort of the wardrobe and discard the ‘anorexic clothes’….
But, I decided that actually it is not just the clothes I have outgrown already I needed to get rid of.
It is the clothes that are now snugly fitting and I am likely to grow out of soon that also needed to go and the clothes that I can remember hanging much more loosely which can also be triggering on a bad day.
So, I have a big pile of clothes sorted to go to a charity shop – my sick clothes…
And I have kept clothes that will fit and I will be comfortable in as my body continues to do what it needs to…
But sorting all these clothes has been an emotional process.
A real mixture of emotions that have been raised in all the sorting and clearing.
Surely, I kept telling myself, I should feel joy that I do not fit into the clothes now that I should never have fit into to start with as it took serious illness to have a body for this clothes size!
And yes – there is a sense of joy, that finally, a day I was not sure would ever come, a day in which I did not have to keep saying ‘one day my body will be too big for this’, is now here… Joy that this is a marker in my recovery.
But there was also sadness and looking at the clothes, ready to be discarded, did trigger sadness.
Reflecting on the cause of this sadness, I think it stems from remembering living in those clothes, in my sick body that was my normal for over a decade and the miserable reality of that life… Sadness that my body did fit those clothes for far too long and grieving the wasted years.
There is also a sense of grief for my thin body – a body that is gone and can never return if I want to reach recovery (and I will write more on this phenomenon in a future post).
Clothes also often have memories associated with them and so it is remembering moments, occasions and often difficult times when I wore them that come flooding back in the sorting through.
And I think it is distress because the future is still so uncertain.
I have left my old thin body behind – but what lies ahead?
This body now is temporary…. And as I realise that I now look ‘healthier’ to the outside world, it is accepting that the visible side of my illness, that proved that I was really not ok is now gone and it is fear that I will be considered ‘recovered’ as my weight hits a ‘healthy size’, yet I know that I am still far from ok….
So, it has been emotional but the old sick clothes are now gone.
And I now set my focus on a temporary recovery wardrobe (floaty, elastic & dresses)!!
Then when my body weight settles finally at its set point in my recovered future, no matter what shape or size that is, I will go and I will fill my wardrobe with clothes that will rock my amazing new body…
A body I will be proud to dress because that body… that body I have yet to meet….
That recovered body will be my real trophy of recovery and that body will deserve to be the best dressed ever!