(a chapter from Telling Ed No! by Cheryl Kerrigan©)
Lying naked on a table while someone rubs you down is a luxury for most people. For me, though, it’s therapy, because being in tune with and connected to my body is important for my recovery. So I go to my massage therapist, Erin, every other week. And because she knows my history with Ed and my problems with body image, she is especially sensitive to my fears and feelings.
One would think it would be excruciating for a person with an eating disorder to have someone touch the very thing they despise, but for me massage is actually healing. It brings up feelings of strength, power, acceptance, and a sense of freedom from my poor body image and negative thoughts. Getting to that point took time and courage, but when I was ready to take the risk and push through the fear of exposing myself— emotionally and physically—the rewards were definitely worth it.
I remove my clothes, lie down on the table under the covers, take a deep breath, and for the 90 minutes I am on that table, my mind and body become one. Sure, for the first thirty seconds Ed tries to jump in and tell me that I am so big that my fat is hanging over the table, but I talk back and tell him he is a jerk. I want to learn to live in my body and accept it, no matter what its size. So, I reframe the negative thoughts into positive ones, and before I know it my mind is in tune with what Erin is doing.
When I am on the table, I actually experience my body from the inside out. I feel light all over, and I can sense the energy inside. I do not judge myself. Massage therapy helps me become more mindful of my physical self, and am aware of my body as the instrument and gift that it is— instead of thinking it’s my enemy. When I leave that tranquil space, I am ready to face the world with a sense of wholeness, because I know that my mind and body are learning to become friends.
Making peace with your body is a challenge for anyone, but particularly for someone in recovery from an eating disorder. But you can accomplish it. Think about your body. Are you connecting with it or ignoring it? Write down three ways you could have a more positive relationship with your body.
With health, hope and strength,