Through the Dark

I have been looking through a lot of pictures taken in the last year, and I have noticed something that I did not before. Then, I scrolled through the thousands of photos on my old iPod. Passing over the numerous screenshots of One Direction, Aaron Tveit, and others, I saw Junior Year me, and boy, did I look even more different. But it wasn’t just the braces, hair styles, or acne, although those things did make me look like someone else. No, it was something different.

For a really long time, I never saw how much weight I lost in this past year. They say you are the last to notice, but I never really did. Yes, I did see a little change, but nothing drastic in the slightest. I look at pictures from January (even earlier) until now and I think, “Okay, I know I look this way.” But when I went back to junior year, or even last summer, I can see it. I am so aware of how different I look.

Even though I was exercising a lot and barely eating, I did not notice any significant change in my appearance. I did not feel any different either. Looking through my photos, this one stuck out to me:

IMG_3161My shoulder is bony, my collar bones are sticking out, and my waist looks tiny. But I did not look like this in other pictures. Maybe it was just that day and that lighting, but I noticed.

I saw the same things here:

IMG_3730My chest and shoulders just look like bones. I mean, the rest of me looks pretty okay, I think. I still had fat on me, and that’s why, in my opinion, I never really saw my lack of eating as a problem for a while. I saw the danger of the situation, but I thought I had control–at least, for a while.

I look at pictures like this, and I see these things about them, but they are only in these photos. Others taken the very same hour look different. That just confuses me. Because of that, I never saw a real change in the way I looked. That is, until I went through pictures from junior year, before I really got into this mess.

Here are some photos from that year and from the summer that followed:

IMG_6390 IMG_6643 IMG_6696 IMG_6920 IMG_6953 IMG_7073Here’s the thing: I DO NOT THINK I LOOK FAT IN ANY WAY IN THESE PHOTOS. However, I see the weight that I lost. I see the fat and muscle under my shoulders and on my chest. I see that I did not have a thigh gap. I still looked fine.

But you know, I do feel self-conscious about these pictures because I was not confident at that time time my life when I took them. I am still trying to find that confidence. Granted, I am about a thousand times more confident than I was even a few months ago, but I still have a long way to go. And looking at these photos and comparing them to the ones of my more recently, I can see that I am still learning and growing through this process and recovery.

I do not ever want to see myself as skin and bones. Just the thought of that scares me.

I look at pictures of me now, and I look so much better. Of course, I have lots of bad days and do not like the way I look, but those are bad days. Those days and those thoughts do not define me anymore. I am better. I am stronger. Sometimes I need a little reminding of that.

But I see the difference. I see how I was, how far I fell, and how far I have come. Progress is everything with recovery. I am a fighter, and I am proud of everything I have accomplished. And I am happy. So, so happy.

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❤ A

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