I’m not too good at talking about much of anything, most especially myself or my issues. It actually seems strange to be doing this right now at all; but I’m out and I feel quite strongly that there has been a major oversight in not addressing body image type stuff and food issues.
Food issues are central to so many aspects of our multiplicity. Some of our earliest and most verified traumas are related to food. Long story short: we went on a hunger strike at age 5 months because we believed ourself to have been abandoned. Refusing to eat just got us into more trouble, though, since adults get a bit panicky when babies don’t eat anything for days on end. Driven to drastic measures, they don’t always stop to think about the fact that their attempts to force feed might be sending food into the lungs instead of the stomach.
That was just the beginning. Food issues got more complex over the years. On top of that, body image, relating to the body, taking care of it, even being able to look into a mirror and see a reflection got to be a major challenge.
When I look into a mirror (an experience I intentionally avoid whenever possible) I “see” (perceive) my strong, healthy, young adult, very masculine body. My mood might register in that reflection; but most assuredly I do not see the clothing and appearance of the physical body I’m stuck inside of. It’s awkward and uncomfortable to intentionally attempt to see what the world around me sees when they look at this body. Nothing about it fits who I am. It’s downright embarrassing to have to attend to it or try to make it do what I would do without thought or intention if what I see in the mirror were indeed the body I live in.
It’s pretty common place for all the personalities to not mentally connect any sense of “me” or “self” with the physical body we reside in. The body is an entity completely separate from my identity. More times than not it is a bother to take care of, a hindrance to what I want to be able to do. Not everybody feels the same way as I do about the body; but very few of us (if any at all) can say we like the body, though some of us are more comfortable than others.
Each personality “sees” a different image when looking at the body. Some have body image issues related to destructive food issues. Child personalities see themselves in a body of their own age. Back when we were newly diagnosed, some of us drew self portraits. It was interesting to see how there were distinct similarities to our physical features- shape of eyes, general shape of head, etc., but each one was clearly unique. To see the whole collection, you might think you were looking at the results of a classroom full of artists of varying ages who all drew their own impression of the same model, with one notable difference – one drawing looked like the model weighed 400+ lbs, and there were drawings done by very young artists who’s drawings reflected the age of the artist – stick figures, or hands and legs extending out of the head – that kind of age appropriate drawings.
Well, this was a rather rambling introduction to two major topics that I hope others will flush out in more detail as they have opportunity. For now, I guess it’s an acceptable start.