Saturday, 31 May 2008

faith and reason

It amazes me sometimes how many contradictory thoughts I can contain.

I'm a fairly intelligent woman, certainly a thoughtful woman, a woman who sees both sides to an argument. On one level, what I believe about women's inherent value and about the body fascism that is so prevalent in our society is very clear and simple to me, and I can articulate that easily.

What I usually don't mention, however, is the violence of the conflict that rages inside me – me versus me, forever at war - on this subject.

Here are some things I believe:

I believe I am not really this fat woman.

I believe I am a much fatter woman.

I believe being fat is not a moral position, nor is it an inherently unhealthy one.

I believe that I am not putting in enough effort, that I'm failing and that I am probably killing myself.

I believe that fat is ugly.

I believe that many fat women are beautiful.

I believe that my husband is very attracted to me.

I believe that no one in their right minds could be attracted to me.

I believe that it's more important to have a healthy relationships with food and eating than to be the "right" size.

I believe that it's quite possible that I would kill someone if their death meant I would be thin.


I feel like half a dozen different people on this. There's someone in there who is clearheaded and reasonable, looks at the facts, considers the arguments, can be dispassionate and logical, and who has it all taped.

But there's also someone in there who agonises every goddamn minute over how fat she is, how her arms jiggle, her thighs sway, her boobs rest on her stomach when she is braless. Someone who sees herself in the mirror and wants to cry.

And someone who is so angry about all that self-hatred.

Someone who thinks that she should just be what she is, yet wears make up every day, in the hopes that maybe she will still be pretty.

I honestly don't know who the fuck I am some days.

The thing is, all the arguments are very clear, and that's great. It's good to have clarity and logic. And I can present with that. It's just that faith, you see, is a different thing. And faith and reason rarely live together easily. And I still cling to the vestiges of a childhood faith in my own shameful fatness which should be hidden and repudiated and expunged. It doesn't seem to matter how much reason I have to defend against it, it still creeps back in.

I don't suppose it's helped by the fact that most of the society I live in shares this faith, and presents a set of arguments about it that are quite convincing also. We all sit together in some kind of bizarre mass in worship of beauty and youth and thinness which undermine any notion of personal value if we do not fulfil those criteria, and afterwards list all the reasons that these beliefs are logical.

I suppose this is the thing about a disorder - at least about my disorder. It can be justified with reason ("thinner is healthier"), but it isn't really about reason at all. That's only its outer garb which makes it more presentable to the world. At its heart, it is about faith, faith in fatness, faith in my own unworthiness, faith that I can't ever conquer either my body or my feelings about it.

Of course, I've left a faith before, which shattered my life for a couple of years, but in retrospect, was a blessed relief. I suppose the difference is that you can walk out of a church, but you can't walk out of your body. But I would like to rediscover that courage that allowed me to get up from a faith my life had revolved around for twenty six years and walk away from it.

2 comments:

Michelle said...

Thank you for so perfectly finding the words to describe this inner tension. I think these multiple selves constantly at war is the hardest part of this disease.

Maddie said...

Thanks Michelle. :) It really is incredibly difficult, especially when you have enough of a rational mind to recognise the total insanity of your heart, and you can see just how nuts you're being, but that doesn't ever make it stop.