It feels like it’s been a long grieving process; like a part of me was dying slowly before my eyes for the past few years and I had to watch it unfold. I just couldn’t let her go. No matter how mean, how frustrating, how deceiving that voice was, I could not let her go. Hadn’t she given me success? Hadn’t she brought me glory?
Or had I forgotten that there was pain and fear all along?
After gaining the weight back, I felt I had lost the powerful Rachael, the Rachael in control. And now I’m left with a blanket of fat to cover me up. Or is it the eating disorder covering me? Did I just need to let that past Rachael go? I felt like losing all the weight through restriction and gaining it all back plus some left me feeling that I lost a piece of myself. And every day I thought about bringing her back to life.
I love this past Rachael but I hate her all the same. I knew that the only way to let go, to “unstick” myself, to pull myself out of the rut where I felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere, was to find a happy medium instead of skyrocketing up into restricting euphoria only to plummet down into binge-eating depression. I know it sounds obvious and easy to most other people, but I finally realized that to be okay with where I am now, I had to give up the old Rachael. I had to stop dwelling on the past. It’s just difficult when I still expect myself to get back to where I want to be even when Coach Woj says he is fine with where I’m at now and that we can just “work with this new body.” I couldn’t accept that. I didn’t want to accept that.
“Rawchael” wouldn’t let me accept it. She told me that despite what everyone was telling me, I would show them; I just had to keep trying.
I could get it all back.
These past few days I realized that I am not about to regain that past Rachael. I am not the X-pounds-less-again future-Rachael. I have to focus on the present, to live in the moment. That means I have to be okay with who I am right now, without a thought towards future weight-loss or dwelling on the past and hating myself for “messing up” by gaining the weight. I know that to be the best person I can be, I must either fix this unresolvable relationship within me or finalize its death at last. If I want to live again, that old, destructive self must die.
So I killed her. I killed “Rawchael”, the hurt, scared girl who always feared weight, who always felt trapped. I set up a “burial” this week for the scared Rawchael and threw away the bad Rawchael.
It was one of the hardest, most difficult parts of this process because it hurt so badly to learn to accept that I may never be All-American again, that my race times may never be the same, that my weight may just stay where it is—and that I have to be okay with this. I have to be happy and fine with where I am in order to live life to its fullest and be there for my teammates. I have to be okay with with letting go so that I can live, not just exist.
I have to be okay with where I am. That means I can’t weigh myself. It means I can only do the best I can with food. It means I need to try to avoid the mirrors. The mirrors are tempting, but they bring me down, just like the scales do. Each time I stop at the mirror to “measure” I pull myself away from it, saying, “No! No measuring with your eyes. Leave it.” It’s sad that I can’t love my body yet but it will come in time. At least I have learned to accept it.
Each time I thought about the past, I reminded myself: “You have to be okay with this.” As in, you have to be okay with where you are now, and that you may stay at this weight for the next few years. I have to be okay with where I am at now. And every time I reminded myself that I felt a wave of relief; there is no more pressure from that internal voice to drop the weight again, that if I didn’t drop the weight I would be a failure. I told myself that I could maintain this weight for the next few years of college and I would be okay.
So yes, I’ll admit it—I’ve been harboring Rawchael, the girl that still wants to lose weight, all this time in “recovery.” I think I realized it, but not completely. I just didn’t want to let go of her. I still wanted that anticipation, that possibility that I could lose all the weight again. I thought I could still keep her and recover.
I’m going to enjoy life and live more. I am allowed to lose weight but I’m not allowed to have to lose weight. Sure, I will feel the ghost of that former self hurting me mentally each day, or maybe just some days more than others. I will still have “perfection” tendencies and it’s not like I feel like I can suddenly eat any food I want.
There will still be difficult days.