When I saw my therapist at the beginning of this month, one of the things we talked about was my feeling I had brought up, in an email the week before, that I’m nearing the winding-down point in therapy. The topic came up in session as part of a discussion around my plans for this year, in preparing to move up north to live with SS. My therapist asked me what my goals are for this year, and I told her my list of goals.
When I mentioned the one about wanting to finish therapy, she asked me what areas still feel unfinished to me. I thought for a moment and said I didn’t know that I still have any big feeling of something unfinished, other than “the food thing”, I think I called it, but looking back on the conversation now, and my reaction to talking about it, I probably should have called it “the body image thing”.
I also said, out loud, that I’m not ready to let go quite yet, and admitting that to her caused me to choke up a little bit. I’m not ready to stop therapy right now, but I have been feeling a growing sense of being “almost done” for a little while. I have heard comparisons made between a client’s feelings around the ending of therapy and a toddler gaining a sense of independence and Self and beginning to toddle away from Mom. I have also heard the analogy of a teenager going off to college.
There is, for me anyway, at this point in my progress, a feeling of awe, finally developing that sense of “I can”, and that is very powerful. It seriously makes me wonder how I managed to survive all these years without that sense, or with the impaired version of it that I carried with me. The huge, major-change-tidal-wave I experienced in the past several months is still new, and I still haven’t completely settled into those changes yet, though it is getting easier and beginning to feel more natural. I have more work to do there, yet, but it’s now more about work I need to do (and continue to do) myself, and less about work that I need to do in the therapy room. I have the tools now. I just need to continue with the reconstruction project.
There was another issue I tackled in the last six weeks or so that was, up to that point, the most difficult to talk about with my therapist, and now that we’ve crossed that bridge, it’s suddenly better. I had thought that was the last big obstacle. But no.
There is still The Body Image Thing. When I started to talk about it that day, I became very emotional. Much more emotional than I had expected to. It was truly hard, talking about how I avoid mirrors and how there is a fine line, when trying on new clothes, for instance, between enjoyment of trying on new clothes and falling into a tailspin over how my body looks in them, and wanting to push away and just put something on that makes me feel covered so that I can focus on other things and not have to think about how I look.
She asked me, “What about from your shoulders up?” and I cringed and shook my head.
No, I don’t like my face, either, or my hair, or anything about my appearance, really, except that I kind of like my eyes.
Later, after I left her office, when I began to replay the session over in my head, the way I always do, something occurred to me. I have thought, for years, that if I were to lose the weight, I would like my body better. I would be able to look in the mirror and possibly even like what I see. But what occurred to me, as I mulled this over in my head, was the fact that, although losing weight would make my face smaller, and I might be able to see a more recognizable “shape” to my face again (I had a heart-shaped face when I was younger and smaller and only had one and a half chins), it would not alter the shape of my nose, or lips, or chin, or make the age spots (liver spots) on my cheek bones disappear. Losing weight won’t change the texture of my hair. I’m still going to have the same features I have now, only smaller. Losing weight isn’t going to make me magically like my looks.
And that brought me to looking at the possibility that it may not fix my body image issues, either. That is a little frightening, to me. For so long, I’ve carried around an “Oh, I can fix that by losing weight” sort of outlook on that, but I acknowledged that I just wasn’t ready to deal with that just yet, as I had other things that were more pressing to be dealt with, in order to live a more complete life.
Now that so many of those other things are being dealt with, I’m seeing that it’s getting to be time to deal with this one, and I suspect it’s not going to be so simple as going on a diet and exercising.
So. Nope, I’m not quite to the end of my therapy, yet.