Minding My Mirrors: Proportion Distortion

So there are a whole slew of things that I’m admittedly terrible at.

1) Any sport. No seriously, pick anything and I am horrendous at it. Perhaps this is due to my high pain avoidance (I avoid things that have the possibility to cause me physical pain. Sports= a cornucopia of ways in which I can experience physical pain). Most of it though I think is because I legitimately have pretty terrible hand eye coordination, which my parents can’t figure out because they both were pretty into sports and had excellent aim. I tried to land something in a trashcan two feet away from me the other day and missed and hit the window. Yes, seriously.

2) Saying, “good enough”. I really struggle with this. Part of it, I’ve realized in the past week particularly, is because I literally have no self-trust or belief in my own abilities to do something correctly. I know, perfectionism, but it does get in the way. Especially when you’re trying to get out of work on time, but still insist on completing every item on the checklist when the world actually wouldn’t end if you missed one of the minor things.

3) Repetition. I hate doing things that require a lot of repetition with very little deviation. I get bored way too easy, cue the distraction and complete unwillingness to actually get the task done. Hence why studying and monotonous rote doesn’t work well, practicing piano never happened (I always played I just never practiced), and also why I literally spend all my time cooking my own food and making every meal different. The idea of having the exact same thing twice in a row or even twice in a few days bores me to tears!

4) Unpacking a Suitcase. So not only am I a last minute packer, which can be a problem of its own, I have this inexplicable inability to unpack a suitcase. Thankfully, dirty laundry is instantly taken out, but other than that I will just systematically take out things item by item as I need them until eventually my suitcase is unpacked.  I think the longest my suitcase has sat on my floor after a trip was 2.5 months.  Yes, really.  And there has really only been one time where my suitcase was instantly unpacked when I arrived home, and that was when I was going through a change-all-your-non-productive ways-and-judge-yourself-on-every-move-you-make-phase.  It was fleeting, and as I said it only happened once.  (Side note:  this is just reminding me how my suitcase is still on my floor from a trip I took last week… perhaps I should deal with that…)

5) Cooking fish. My love of fish is huge, and there are a couple (actually one- basa fillets) that I’ve mastered. But this more so is because I know my oven, and not because I really can cook the fish. Either way I always, ALWAYS get someone to double check because me+salmon=overcooked. And I like my fish just barely cooked, or I find it dry and unpalatable. It’s a work in progress.

6) Folding sheets. It doesn’t matter how many times someone shows me, or how many times I practice, they always end up a crinkled mess. I’ve since given up and just morph them into something between a pancake and a muffin top shape and call it a day. If bed head is considered a legitimate hairstyle, there’s no way my sheets need to be smooth.

I could go on. That’s life. Hopefully one day I’ll marry someone that can barbecue a killer salmon, doesn’t need to play soccer or go for jogs for “fun”, and can fold at least the guest room sheets like a beast. Currently accepting applications.

There are also some things that I’m crazy good at though!

1) Word games. You name it. Crosswords, Boggle, Pick Two (my favorite!), Scrabble… I’m a beast. It actually seems to drive people nuts, to the extent that they don’t want to play with me anymore (other than my Aunt Lucy… her goal is always to beat me!). It’s kind of sad though because I’m not TRYING to win… there are just so many good words right there in front of me!

2) Numbers. Addition, subtraction, algebra. Now I don’t mean that I find these things particularly FUN (although algebra can be a neat game…), and I certainly don’t want you to come up to me with a two trains meeting question because I will run away screaming with my hands in my ears (actually I’ll probably run and trip over something, hence the lack of coordination…). But I’m good with them. Like I can add sums really quickly, and I tend to remember them well. Hence the whole calorie counting thing and anything you can really put into quantities has always gotten me like a magnet.

3) Listening. I’m a killer listener. I prefer to listen really, and I don’t actually do well when it comes to the relation and talking part of a conversation (especially with people my own age… I have no opinion on Nicki Minaj and probably couldn’t even pick her out if you showed me pictures…). But if you need someone to sit and listen to you mull a problem over, or just listen to really anything at all, I’m your girl. I’ll even listen to a conversation about Nikki Minaj with vague interest. Just don’t ask me my opinion. (Side note: my knowledge of Nicki Minaj is so vast that I actually had to look up how to spell her name. I totally spelt it wrong.)

4) Looking in the Mirror. No, I’m not vain. Don’t get me wrong here. I don’t spend hours in front of a mirror, primping and preening, and I don’t actually seek out mirrors to check myself out. But I know how to use one really well. And by really well, I mean something like this:

Oh look, a mirror/reflective surface that I happen to pass by. Just a quick glance. Hmmm, wow, my thighs are really big. Yep, they’re at least an inch wider than last week. Soon they’ll touch, and then I’ll want to die. Never mind my chipmunk cheeks. You can’t even see my cheekbones anymore. I wish my hair would grow out faster so that I can cover them up before this weight gain phase is over. And my ribs… ha, well you can’t even tell I have those. Yep, I’m a cross between a chipmunk, the Pillsbury Dough Boy, and a marshmallow. Ha, remember that episode of Arthur where he gets a really puffy green jacket that makes him look like the Michelin Man? Yep, I’m like that… but I don’t need a jacket.

Yep that’s my thought process, or something remarkably similar, usually actually ending with the Arthur memory. Did anyone else see that one?

So unsurprisingly, this pretty much makes me feel like crap, makes me anxious, and kills any positivity I might have been experiencing. So needless to say, I don’t specifically SEEK out mirrors to make myself feel shitty. I just seem to have a laser ability to find them, or at least, when I happen to notice my reflection in something, I can’t help but stop and look, just to double check that I haven’t ballooned up like a blimp. Except that while I might not be exactly Mr. Puffy (I’ll stop with the Arthur references, I promise), I always seem to find something that appears bigger than the “last time”, even if the last time was earlier that day or (more usual) a few days ago.

Mirrors are tricky. When I first entered residential treatment, a few days after I arrived they decided to do a little experiment where they covered all the reflective surfaces and taped over all the mirrors in the house for two weeks. We couldn’t see ourselves for two weeks, and some odd things happened. At this point I was in the honeymoon phase of recovery where I truly believed everything would eventually be fixed by gaining weight and it would be like a temporary thing that I could totally be rid of once I completed my prescription of poundage. So I didn’t really have this crazy urge to look at myself in a mirror. I didn’t find a roll of tape and sneak into the bathroom, peel off an inch section to body check by standing in the sink and re-tape it so no one would know the difference. And I didn’t find myself suddenly lifting the semi opaque kettle at odd angles to try and decipher some sort of image in its barely-there sheen. (All things I saw/heard about other people I was with doing). In a weird sense, I felt liberated. I felt calmer. And while it probably was the start of my bend over, head between the legs thigh checking, in other ways it made me freer than I had been in a long time.

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Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles

Here are the things we tend to forget about mirrors:

1) Distortion. Yes, the ED brain comes often with some body dysmorphia. It’s like, if we were sitting in the living room and I pointed to the rocking chair and tried to tell you that that plain as day chair in the corner wasn’t actually there. It’s all in your mind. Crazy and hard to believe, right? It’s hard to not believe in something that’s staring you in the face. However, there is also mirror distortion. Mirrors reflect light, that’s all they do. So if there’s a divot, or a crack, or an uneven surface, the image reflected back to your eyes is not going to be accurate. Think of a funhouse with its wonky mirrors and associated distortions.

2) Fear amplifies things. Think of something you’re afraid of. Perhaps it’s spiders. Now, if you’re afraid of spiders and you see a spider on the wall, to the unaffected friend sitting next to you it’s nothing more than a tiny common household pest, but to you…man you could swear that thing was the size of a tarantula! Or at least half as big as your hand… it doesn’t matter! It was HUGE! Fear makes things seem bigger than they are… it’s a self-preservation thing, a survival tactic. So if you look in the mirror, and you fear seeing fat on yourself, guess what you’ll see? Or at least, guess what will look more prominent than it actually is?

3) They’re not a measure of health, or of worth. Cue the violin solo and the inspirational I have a dream speech. You are worth more than what you see in the mirror. A mirror doesn’t show you how your heart is functioning, how your brain neurons are firing, or how well your liver is detoxifying your body. And the size of your body is not an indicator of much. Some people are genetically larger. They have bigger bones, they carry their weight in different places, they have a higher natural set point. Does this make them unhealthy? No. Does it make them fat? No. I sound like a recording, a psychotherapist, and a hypocrite all rolled into one. How does someone who is clearly so affected by her reflection feel she has the right to tell us not to be affected by what we see?

I don’t.

It’s a work in progress.

Anyways, the point is, mirrors don’t help much. Sure, they can tell you if you have a mascara spider or spinach in your teeth, or if that red hat really doesn’t go at all with that blue jacket, but beyond that they’re kind of toxic.

And cue my brainwave of last week.

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The Hall of Mirrors again at the Palace of Versailles… for once these mirror shots are bringing back positive memories… but I still judge what I’m seeing even now.

I like naming things, often alliteratively. See there’s Fear Food Friday, and Survivor Sunday, TBH Tuesday (that’s a new one I just thought of… will have to explore that more). So I figure that Monday has to have something too, right? Because Monday kind of gets the short end of the stick… for many it’s just kind of a crappy day. It’s the start of the workweek, it has a lack of good late night TV, and it reminds you of the homework you didn’t get done on the weekend that was due. Oops.

Anyways, Mondays suck. And I’m not all into the whole Man Crush Monday shenanigans, and while Mugcake Monday holds promise, it is a little bit of a drag if I either felt like having the mugcake on a Tuesday, or simply didn’t feel like one on the Monday… and Muffintop Monday sounds delicious but can be taken in too many more destructive ways…

Distracted.

So Monday! Let’s throw some self-compassion, or at least take a stab at it, into a crappy day. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you:

Mirror-less Monday.

Yep.

One day a week where you don’t look in a mirror, and you avoid all reflective surfaces. Psshaw, sound easy? You’d be surprised…

So I came up with this cockamamie idea on Sunday, and being the type of person I am, I thought hmmm let’s try this, and decided the next day I would dive into it.

I don’t wear makeup. I think I stopped during my hospitalization 3 years ago and just never started again. Once you see how much nicer your skin health is without it, it’s hard to go back to foundation-induced pimple-land. So I mean, aside from spinach in my teeth or out-of-place cowlicks, my actual NEED for a mirror is quite minimal. But hey, we already determined that bed head is a legitimate look now. I can just elect for the grunge look and fake it till I make it.

I’m kind of lucky in the sense that my house has a general lack of reflective surfaces. We’re not that decorative, so it’s not like we have these little knickknacks with mini mirrors or a lot of silver decorations everywhere. And I’ve found that if you actually leave the exterior of your windows dirty, you don’t see your reflection near as much… logically this means that it’s a wonderful idea to never climb on a ladder outside to wash your windows. I have just been unconsciously planning ahead for this project!

So basically I’m faced with three-ish overt mirrors that I regularly come into contact with: my bedroom, my bathroom, and the door leading outside. I’m not someone who spends time really in my bedroom, so my contact there is minimal- getting up in the morning and going to bed. It also tends to be one that hates me often, as you tend to get dressed in your room and thusly can see that much more of yourself.

Note to self: Take a note from treatment facility for next week and at least make a board or something you can place in front of the mirror the night before when going to bed. Then you don’t have the instant, I’m-not-thinking-straight-because-it’s-5-am slip up when you first get out of bed, and have forgotten today’s goal…

But I digress…

The most frequent one I come into contact with is the bathroom, because I’m almost never in the other bedrooms, and let’s face it: nature calls more than once a day. So the practicality of this one is a little different, as I can’t just cover up a common bathroom mirror that everyone else uses. The most effective strategy seems to be leaving the lights off when I’m in there, as it has no windows, and we only have a tiny nightlight that really only spreads enough to see where you’re going and give you a vague outline of your shape in the mirror with no specifics. So technically, assuming you remember not to turn on the light that one should be easy enough.

Work is actually the easiest place to avoid seeing my reflection because there are literally almost no reflective surfaces, other than in one section that I very rarely have to be in. The only real cincher here is the bathroom. Obviously, it has no nightlight, and leaving the lights off is not an option unless I leave the door open. Obviously, that’s a no go (I’m sure the other employees appreciate my conclusion on this one too). I think that one is just going to take a bit more practice.

The side view mirrors in the car… another one that you just have to try to remember. I can see all kinds of bad things happening if I tried to cover those guys. And because I’m not allowed to exercise at this point, various external reflective surfaces are at a minimal because I’m not going out for a jog or a walk. Check and check.

So it’s a work in progress, but I think it shows promise. And I invite others to join me, regardless of sex, age, condition, constitution… we all could use a break from the scrutiny of the silver eye. Screw Man-crush Monday, Meatless Monday (because I just like chicken, okay!), and Mimosa Monday… actually wait, that last one could be delicious.

And just because I can, I’m going to end this by sharing a recipe I’m currently crushing on at snack time.

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One bowl wonder!

Because little, round cookies don’t need a mirror either to embrace their cute chubby perfection.

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Mid delicious creation…

So if you love the wonder that is peanut butter, love one bowl dishes, don’t feel like turning on your oven, or just need to remind yourself what deliciousness is…

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Second batch I made- drizzled with peanut butter chips instead of dark chocolate chips, because peanut butter.

Try these no bake peanut butter chocolate drizzle cookies.

Tada!  Original batch I made.  Chocolate and peanut butter heaven :)

Tada! Original batch I made. Chocolate and peanut butter heaven 🙂

Now. No really. Right now.