During a Body Image Group run by my therapist, all of us were asked to design a mask.
The outside was the face we showed to the world, and the inside represented how we felt on the inside. Here is the outcome–along with my explanation.
One of the most beautiful lessons I learned in recovery is that you do not have to follow your knee jerk reaction to talk bad about yourself.
I didn’t feel the need to create something dark inside me. Although, I do feel anxiety, it is only a small part of me. The black in the corner of my brain represents that worry, which I no longer fear consuming all my insides. I won’t let it. And instead of pretending I’m perfect, I can make my anxiety known to my loved ones, which is what the thought bubbles represent on the outside of my brain.
Recovery is teaching me that I don’t have to wear a mask. In fact, exposing even my darkest emotions is what grants me freedom from my eating disorder. I will be accepted for my sadness, my anger, my insecurities and all. Therefore, each color you see in my brain does not stay bottled up there. And all of it becomes a chaotic masterpiece: which is who I am to the outside world.
Anger is red, the fire you see around my eyes. The blue is sadness, which come out as tears. The yellow shines faintly, but joyfully around my eyes as excitement. And the hearts on my checks represent my gratitude, which I try to always access.
I even added some lipstick and eyeliner because dolling myself up to go out is part of my self-care ritual—I no longer isolate.
Exposing my true emotions can be empowering, but it is also overwhelming at times. For lack of better words: I struggle with constantly feeling “a mess.” Since nothing is running amuck on my insides, I feel like its now running amuck on the outside. Words aren’t being silenced, thoughts aren’t being hidden.
There is a question mark drawn on the inside of may lips representing my constant questioning: “Am I even doing this right?” I worry that people will judge me. Will I be accepted, or will I be shamed?
I have always hoped that the constant questioning will fade. And that the chaos will get tamed. But, I don’t know that it ever will as long as I am being true to myself. And through accepting that possibility, I’m actually learning to love the mess that I am. I don’t expose myself as conventional beauty and perfection anymore. But, at least my image is raw and it is honest. And I am so relieved to know that when I am loved by others, I am being accepted for all that I am because there are no parts of me hiding. It takes work to love myself, I’m not fully there yet. I have to remind myself to see beauty in this chaotic masterpiece. I actually wish it had a lion’s mane around it, because I am a fighter and I always will be.