“Am I Still the Same?”

Last night, I bumped into someone from my past; and I shocked myself, when it came to saying goodbye, by nearly asking a question I’ve been grappling with for years: “am I still the same?

Am I still the same” is my “do I look fat in this?” question. The reassurance seeker that I continually seem to ask. “Do I look the same?”, and “Am I still the same”, or “How am I different?”. And please answer that I am not.

I have resisted, more recently, from externalising the discussion, but the variants have been tingling, slightly unpleasantly, on the tip of the tongue

Up until now, I haven’t bothered to unpick why this staying the same has been so important. What, exactly, I am staying the “same” as; and why it matters if I am “different”. There is a vague link to weight in there, and an outdated attempt at subtly asking the “do I look bigger?” question – but it is the underlying implication that has left me slightly more disturbed.

If it matters that I do not look different and is important to remain the same, then I am pretty much destined for failure; because if there’s one thing we can all be certain of, it’s change.

Hmmm.

I have been trying to back-track to where the question started, and find myself stopping at about 12. There was a window, I think, around this period, when I seemed to be quite popular, and I was desperate to make sure that I continued to fit in. So, that was the first “same” (hold on, tightly, to that Melissa, because popularity is precarious, and will vanish if there’s even the smallest degree of change); and then, there was one, a few years later, that was far more linked to my weight: the “you are only special if you’re thin” distortion, that meant that the eating disorder had to be maintained.

Stay the same. Weigh the same. Be the same. Or you’ll lose it – whatever “it” is.

Somewhere along the way, the boundaries between body image and self got blurred. The line between internal – and external – changes lost distinction. Or maybe it was just easier to adhere to a number on a set of scales.

So I clung on, desperately, to the idea of staying the “same”, both physically and emotionally.

hence the question

And I seem to have decided that there was only one acceptable, and slightly precarious, condition for succeeding as me.

and the reassurance

Because the implication of any signs of difference were significant, and fraught with consequences and risk.

explaining the overwhelming fear of change

A few days ago, I wrote about the sense that I keep having to swivel myself forward. That my recovery has had an emphasis on what is dead (ouch) and gone. I think that this is another one of those backward looking symptoms. Something that I need to let go of, please, if I’m going to really move on.

Because an adult does not look the same as a child or even a teenager; and, the qualities that I value at 30, are totally different to those that I (others?) seemed to value at 13. The world has moved on dramatically since 1993; and, despite my best intentions, I certainly haven’t stayed the same.

Which, all things considered, is certainly no bad thing.

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2 Responses to ““Am I Still the Same?””

  1. James says:

    Really true and resonant. That doubt of “Am I still me?” or “Is this me?” or “Who am I?” is always there, underscoring the quest to recover. I’ll just say briefly – along with your re-discovery post – that these are issues I’m grappling with and it’s unnerving.

    You’ve got to just go with the changes and let go I suppose. It’s not easy, but I’m just trying to view it as an exciting opportunity to discover new things about myself. Change is natural and it has the potential to be a really good thing.

  2. Melissa says:

    I completely agree with this. I think I am quite shocked by how resistant I am – and at such a level. Change is natural and I want to move towards being able to embrace this, rather than fight it….so hopefully awareness is the first step to letting go. xx