The body I live in

How comfortable am I with the body I live in today?

In my eating disorder I always thought that once I got thin enough everything would come into focus. I would suddenly love my thin body and finally be at peace. Ha, that was a crock of shit. The deeper I got into my disorder the more I hated myself and the harder it was to crawl out. 

As an eating disorder counselor I sit across from women who hate their bodies, fear being fat more than death, and scoff at any mention of body acceptance. If I still had that old relationship with my body that I had in my disorder (and for most of my recovery journey) I wouldn't be able to effectively help my clients. As Hilary and Dana from Be Nourished say, "We cannot help our clients go further than we have gone." 

So, where am I now and how did I get here? I love most of my body and accept the parts with scars (I'm working on that part) and I got here with a lot of hard work. 

My body has defied death and battled through recovery, it's carried two amazing children, it's withstood cancer, and it's gotten me out of bed every morning so far and carried me through all my activities. My body is reliable and trust worthy and at times I find it to be quite beautiful. There are still things I have problems with: cancer has left me with scars and some deformed areas and those are hard to accept and love, but each day I do my best to show my body appreciation and gratitude. 

I am a woman who lives in the western world with these societal ideals of thinness and beauty so it's not all sunshine and rainbows. I find myself comparing to other women or even daydreaming of a different body (specifically one with less scaring). When I find myself in that space I give myself some grace and I try to nurture that part of me that still conforms to beauty equaling worthiness. I remind myself that beauty can look like many different thing, maybe even like strength and perseverance. 

I got to this space of body trust by

  • fighting that voice in my head every day, the one that told me I would only be "okay" if I were thin,
  • noticing the parts of me that are beautiful,
  • finding value in who am I by something other than how I look,
  • appreciating the small things that my body does for me every day,
  • getting real about how f'd up our society is in telling women what we must look like in order to be worthy and desirable, and
  • recognizing beauty in women of all shapes and sizes, and counting myself among them.

None of this was easy and it sure as hell didn't happen over night, but my entire world began to change for the better when I started the process of healing my relationship with my body and finding body trust. 

I'm not done either. Body trust is something I work at every day, multiple times a day. I'm not perfect or complete. I'm just here, enjoying the space I'm in now and fascinated to find out where this journey will take me next. 

Does my story sound familiar to you? Do you live in a space of self-hatred? Are you at war with your body? Do you think that everything would be "okay" if only you were taller/thinner/prettier? Are you ready to get free of all of that? Are you ready to experience body trust?

If you are in the Vancouver, WA or Portland, OR areas and you'd like some help, please call me at 360-284-7008 or click the button below to schedule a free 15-minute phone consultation. I'd like to help you. 

This blog post is part 2 in a series based off an assignment given to me in a body trust course for providers through Be Nourished in Portland, OR. The 3rd part of the series (Finding joyful movement) will be out soon, but if you missed it catch up on the 1st post: my dieting/eating disorder history

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Tamara Duarte

Tamara Duarte is a counselor, author, speaker, and activist. Her private practice, Get Centered Counseling in Vancouver WA, helps women with food and body issues learn to love themselves, their body, their life, and their relationships. Her life’s work is steeped in personal experience, having fifteen years in recovery for anorexia, in addition to being a breast cancer survivor. An up and coming force in the counseling community, Tamara has been published in a textbook called Treatment Strategies for Substance and Process Addictions, and has sat on a panel at the American Counseling Association Conference, where she spoke to her peers on strategies and tools to use with clients struggling with eating disorders. Having a deep, personal understanding of what it takes to recover from this condition, she seeks to be an example to those she treats, to let them know that recovery is possible. Currently developing a podcast which addresses the cultural issues that promote body shame, self-esteem issues and eating disorders, Tamara lives in Vancouver, Washington, with her husband and best friend, Adam, enjoying life to the fullest with their two beautiful children, Jacob and Chloe.