Ellie Di, also known as the Headologist, is sharing her Leap into Love today. I am so honored to have her here, sharing such a personal moment in her own journey to self love.
In the winter, the humidity drops to negative a zillion, and my skin gets super dry. It doesn’t matter how much water I drink or fat I eat; I’m thirsty, inside and out. Between the frigid wind outside and central heating inside, the aridity of the air threatens to turn me into a raisin.
To keep myself from drying up entirely, I have to slather myself in lotion after my once-a-week shower, head to toe and everywhere in between. Only St. Ives’ 24-hour Super Intensive Care for Ashy White People can smooth my skin back into place so I don’t feel like my clothes are knocking chunks out of it. The velvety-cool sensation is relief in its purest essence. It’s five minutes of complete and utter self-care.
But five years ago, I couldn’t have done it.
I couldn’t have stood naked and lovingly caressed my parts. I couldn’t have put my hands on my own flesh to care for it because it disgusted me. Every part of my body felt wrong – feet to thighs to belly to boobs to forearms to neck – like it belonged to someone twice my size.
I was in the midst of eating-disorder recovery. I’d stopped restricting and bingeing, but the dysmorphia wouldn’t go away. I was secretly glad to have no full-length mirrors because I didn’t want to see myself from the neck down. The thought of looking at “all that disgusting fat,” much less touching it, sent me plummeting into the Hole.
The winter effected me no less then, but the physical discomfort didn’t outweigh my attachment to the daily emotional torture. I refused to give my body the care it needed.
I simply didn’t love it enough. Or at all.
I couldn’t tell you the day I stopped hating my lumpy, squishy, imperfect body enough to give it some goddamn lotion already. It just happened.
I stood alone in my bedroom, having discarded the towel before getting dressed (already a miracle in itself), and oh my god, I was itchy. Mid-winter dryness produced long, white scratchmarks on my raw skin. It felt like bugs under the surface.
And in that moment, the balance between self-care and self-hate tipped in the opposite direction.
In a flurry of motion bordering on violence, I grabbed the lotion bottle, squeezed half of it into my hands, and started smearing. I touched flesh that my hands didn’t recognize, it had been so long. I had new curves, new lines. To my surprise, I found the softness inviting. Maybe there isn’t anything wrong with that Buddha belly in the first place. Maybe my muscles need thighs that size. Maybe I can enjoy this body after all.
Self-love, for me, has been a slow journey, filled with hiccups, sudden sprints, and long waits. I gain ground in spurts, like with my winter self-care needs, and I don’t think I’m there yet. Maybe I never will be.
But maybe that’s not the point. If I could tip the scales from hate to love once, I can do it again; I can gain unexpected ground; I can build stronger foundations a little at a time. Perhaps instead of looking at self-love as an end goal, we should look at it as a series of milestones, loving ourselves a little more each day, each week, each month, each year.
Ellie Di is a headologist, attitude adjuster, compassionate critical thinker, spiritual nomad, and compulsive scribbler. She spends her days working one-on-one with self-aware, funky people searching for their next level of awesomeness. You can visit her on her site, The Headologist or on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.