“I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead. I lift my eyes and all is born again” -Sylvia Plath

What does it mean to view one’s self accurately? Is there a difference between a self-image that is positive and one that is accurate? Does either imply the other? I must think not.

As we self-reflect we quickly face the limit, the native language of the sensual information from which we cannot deviate. We cannot even conceive of fluency in another. We cannot even imagine what that other might be. The territory of logic is neither exception nor refuge. It is equally problematic. We trust it similarly because we have no choice, and yet it betrays us. From a single contradiction, everything follows. And over and over again we contradict, and then we revise, and nothing is steadfast.

I am no longer dysmorphic, which is to say, I am no longer preoccupied by some part or whole of what I see in the mirror. This is not to suggest that what I see in the mirror corresponds to the way strangers and friends see my body, The point is I am not preoccupied. I know I must base my self-image on the empirical. Many people are attracted to me, therefore I am attractive. It is uncomfortable to exist this way. Perhaps more poignantly: Imagine you do not have hands. You look down and have stumps. Yet you when you try to do things which require hands, you are miraculously successful. You tie your shoes, you grip things, you play the piano, you make your lover come. It is impossible and yet it happens over and over again. But you do not have hands. But it as if you have them so it does not matter. And if you try to explain to someone that you do not have hands, he or she looks at you in sheer disbelief. Clearly you have hands, look at all you can do. And then you look down at the stumps at the end of your forearms. The are unsightly and useless.  If only you had hands. Think of all the things you might do!

From a single contradiction, everything follows.

“Who are YOU? said the Caterpillar. This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, I–I hardly know, sir, just at present– at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.” -Lewis Carroll

Changes: Part I

At my gym, we are tracking our progress two ways -fitness (our performance on a specific workout and aesthetics (before and after photos). Our initial test of the workout is tomorrow.

Taking the before pictures was a struggle. I stripped and took out my camera and almost collapsed inside. I know am beautiful just as I am. I know if I lose fat I will be more attractive to some people. I know if I gain fat, I will be more attractive to some people. I know it doesn’t matter because I am healthy. I know it doesn’t matter because I am, because I exist, and that is enough. But taking those pictures, standing in front of a mirror, the shutter button under my index finger became a gavel. I hesitated. Something within me assembled a strong resistance: The trainers are creepy, you don’t want to send them semi-nude pics. You don’t need to judge yourself like that! And then the truth came out -you don’t want to see your self like that cause you look so terrible!

And then I saw that it was just another piece of debris from my ED, and there was clarity. Refusing to take these photos would not just acknowledge but validate this freshly manifested fear of my body. Taking them, acting like it was not a big deal, made it not a big deal. So I took them and now have these tiny punctuations of my whole self as I stretch out through my trajectory in time. These are pictures of me, I say as a scientist (to say this as a philosopher, I would be less certain). They cannot torment me because I decided actively to not let that happen. They are just pictures.

If I had not taken them, I would still be freaking out about it. The experience would have been a trigger. With much practice, and again, universal will to become, I have learned to be victorious of the sinister force that sleeps within. As a scientist, I will look at my after pictures and see that I still am.