**Not sure if there needs to be a warning but hey ho – I’m talking negative body image folks so heads up**
Alternative title: Because sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees.
“And how do you feel about yourself?” She asks as she flips over the page of her notebook.
I wish she hadn’t asked me that. I sigh. I furrow my brow. The word is already there, on the tip on my tongue … Acidic. Abrasive. I really wish she hadn’t asked me that.
“I’m … ” I start, the tears already burning my eyes, I don’t want them to fall, I will them to stay where they are, eye balls swimming in them “… Grotesque”.
I say the word with a sickening level of warmth, as though doing so would cushion the meaning of it … It’s a word that my brain uses to taunt my reflection with, my brain never uses warmth.
The word just hangs there in the space between us, her eyes focused on me … I can feel them, I don’t meet them. It just stays there, along with silence … And I can’t decide which is more devastating.
I’m not entirely sure what sparked her interest in that particular demon … But that became the topic our “introductory” session. What my childhood had been like? Was I bullied at school? Why did I feel the need to avoid mirrors? Avoid people? What is my relationship like with food?
I didn’t want to talk about all that … And yet the words spilled out. Utter brain vomit. It seemed that it didn’t matter what I wanted, that demon wanted out. It wanted to be known. All the times I’ve cried at my reflection (and picked at my skin), or fussed about a flaw that was something only I seemed to be able to see (and my view that other people were lying to me, that they could see it too but were secretly judging me), how I’ve avoided social situations as best I could … And if unable to avoid, having an emotional meltdown during the run up to it. How it had impacted relationships … How it continues to impact relationships. How I hide my body because I am ashamed of it … How I wish it was different. How I wish I was different.
It was all there, in the open. Leaving me raw, vulnerable and consumed with self-loathing. I talked until I started to talk in circles, repeating things already said because on some level my brain was trying to process the sentences as if it were new information.
Except it isn’t new. It hasn’t been new for as long as I can remember. It just feels new because I’m hearing myself say it aloud.
And she sits there, capturing this piece of me. Absorbing the words, the body language, the whole. She sits there, seemingly unfazed.
I talk until the words run out … Until the silence enters the room.
“Have you ever been tested for Body Dysmorphic Disorder?” She asks, I shake my head. There has been no formal test, just a suggestion that I show symptoms of it. She seems to nod at something unsaid. Scribbling notes.
She mentions a test for next time … That it’s nothing to worry about, just something to explore. I feel as though I’ve explored enough.
She smiles a clinical smile that concludes our session …
I can’t mirror that smile. My brain has turned to cotton wool. Fuzzy. It just recalls her saying “until next time” before I exit a door into the cool Autumnal air.
I gasp at the cold. Until next time.