"Mirror Mirror on the wall who is the skinniest of them all...?"
When we look into the mirror we expect to see a true reflection of ourselve. We look into it with a certain expectation, with the hope to see exactly the kind of reflection we have created in our mind. A reflection of perfection. At least that's how it was (is) for me.
How close to reality is the reflection that we see in the mirror though? Do we see what our mind is telling us to see or do we see what truly is? And because of this expectation attached to our reflection will we ever be truly happy with the reflection starring back at us? Is it the physical reflection we reject or do we reject the reflection of who is looking us back in the eye?
I use to stare in the mirror for hours on end, counting every protruding rib, measuring the width of my waist, arms and legs. Having to be able to grip around my upper arm with one hand and having my fingers touch, having to grip around my thigh with both hands with ease and the same method of measurement counted for my waist. I would spend hours analyzing the shape of my stomach, bending over forwards so I could count the amount of 'rolls' that formed and measure how thick they were. I would stand tall, straight spine, shoulders back, anckle bones touching to measure how big the gap between my thighs was. I would lie down, get a ruler and place it from hip bone to hip bone and measure how big the gap from my stomach to the ruler was. I would tie my hair up, get another mirror and count my protruding vertabrates.
Eventhough I could count every rib the mirror reflected, I could see my spine as though it was about to cut through my skin and could see the gap between my legs being big enough to make them look like nothing but two twigs, and although there was barely a gram of fat on my body, my reflection, the one that I saw, told me I was fat.
"Mirror Mirror on the wall I hate you so but love you more..."
I hated to love looking in the mirror because I knew that I wouldn't find that perfection I was looking for. In some way I hated that frail, shapeless and lifeless being that was starring back at me, but on the other hand I felt incredible pride and satisfaction, even comfort, at what I saw.
I so often felt like I was trapped within the wrong body. I felt so disgusted at my reflection, because I was never Skinny/Perfect enough. All I could do was spit at the mirror, at myself, to give me a sense of relief. I wasn't only spitting at my physical reflection, but also at me, the person I saw. I was no longer Belle, I felt like I was taken hostage by some demon that had taken over my body and my mind. That demon was Anorexia.
"Mirror Mirror on the wall are you real at all...?"
My reflection to the outside world was seen as skinny, frail and lifeless. My reflection in my world was seen as fat, unworthy and so very imperfect. Even at my lowest weight, 31kg, I still saw a girl who needed to lose weight, who still had a roll around her stomach and who had a double chin. I would try and eleviate some of my frustration by lathering my face with make-up, a way to try and distract from my body.
"Mirror Mirror on the wall please tell me I can stop, that I have reached the goal...?"
That point never came. I never felt, and as perverse as it may sound, still don't think I ever got skinny or light enough. It's irrational thinking I still can't comprehend. The reflection I saw was never at that perfect state, the state that would allow me to stop. Ask me what that perfect state looks like and I couldn't tell you because it's and illusion.
The reflection that I saw and believed for so long shows that our comprehension of that reflection is linked with the frame of mind we are in. We feel good, we generally like what we see. We feel down/bad, we generally don't like what we see eventhough the reflection has stayed the same.
"Mirror Mirror on the wall, be my friend don't let me fall..."
I am learning that its not actually the mirror that is my enemy, it's my mind. I'm learning to see the mirror as my friend, as a tool that is there to help me learn to accept myself and like myself. And not as a tool that only wants to expose my flaws.
"Mirror Mirror on the wall give me a smile, that is all."
I still struggle with my reflection. Very rarely do I actually like what I see. There are times where I wish I could still count those ribs, just for reassurance, but I know it's not a reflection of reality and its just a trap. That way of thinking and living is too tiring and self distructive. Now, when I look in the mirror I look myself in the eye, because they are a reflection of my soul where true beauty is found. I give myself a smile and accept myself, body and mind, for the way I am at that moment. It's not always easy, but its far better to smile at your reflection than spit at it.
Next time you look in the mirror smile at it, you might be surprised to see that it will smile back at you too.
Note: Using the term 'we' is used as a general term, obviously not relevant to everyone.
I am aware that this way of thinking can be hard to comrehend for some people reading this. Anorexia is an addiction and evokes irrational thinking and behaviour. If by writing this I can help broaden the understanding of the issue, help other sufferers and give hope then I will feel like I am making something positive out of my experience.