We are living in a digital world but I am not a digital girl.
And that makes me feel out of place. But, at the same time, I am not entirely sure it is a place I want to be.
I’m not sure it is the place for me.
Maybe I’m too fucking old. Maybe I missed something. Maybe I just don’t fucking care.
When my body image issues first surfaced there was no Internet. Okay, there was but it wasn’t in people’s homes and everywhere like it is now. It was something still being developed. It was, essentially, in its infancy when I was about to hit puberty.
There were, however, magazines, television, movies. MEDIA. EVERYWHERE. Always depicting that unattainable yet enviable perfection. I was aware of it all from a very young age. And it was at a young age that those seeds of imperfection were planted.
But not by the media.
Seeds of my shortcomings. Planted by the very person charged with my care. The one meant to ward off such heinous hints of inadequacy. The one from whose womb I was taken. The one who should have made me feel better but instead made me feel so terribly insufficient it diminished any opportunity for me to shine my brightest.
More like she fucking snuffed the damn flame. And it has never reignited.
The web, the net, is just that. A seemingly safe place to land but one that quickly proves dangerous. It snares you, pulls you in…deeper and deeper. Until everything around you is distorted and the line between that place and reality becomes so blurred that you embrace where you are and forsake where you came from as a means of survival.
And once you are in, you can never leave. Sure you may think you’ve gone rogue and labelled yourself “offline” but there is a part of you that will forever linger. There. No matter how many times you hit delete. You were there and so you are always there, even in your absence.
That digital world is a strange, strange place. And though distant from it, I have a connection to it. We all do.
It has become THE paramount measure of worth. No longer is a person “judged” by their deeds (good or bad) but instead by the number of LIKES and/or FOLLOWERS they have.
Fuck, are we all just lemmings?
Those likes and follows now translate not just in to profitability but literal likability. And a person with millions of mentions suddenly becomes the focus drawing away from people who are actually doing things. Suddenly success is measured not by what you do but by what you portray.
Companies and organizations seek out those residing in high traffic zones. They want nothing to do with someone genuinely flawed and far from trending. And that leads to many meaningless and ostensible connections.
And those meaningless connections are masked by monetary success. So, we don’t question them. We accept the situation. As if it were okay. We’ve normalized it. And forsaken real, authentic connections.
This became shockingly clear to me at a recent event for people with Type 1 Diabetes.
There were folks in attendance, with all kinds of backgrounds and different diagnosis stories, some had been living with T1D for more than fifty years. Some were recently diagnosed. And then, of course, there were all those in between.
We all wore name tags, depicting real names, handles, aliases and hashtags.
Because we are identified that way. It’s fine. I play along. Because…survival, right?
I had quite a few people – both newly diagnosed and long time insulin addicts – question my hashtag: #bantingst1dcousin. And it confused then infuriated me.
How the fuck do you not know who Banting is?
I get it. Maybe I am out of touch. Like I said, digital world not a digital girl. But no one using insulin today would be here were it not for that man, and his partner Charles Best.
Literally. Would. Not. Be. Here.
So how can it be that people do not know who he/they is/are?
But that person, who has lived with Type 1 for less than a heart beat, with all the perfect things, and 10, 000+ followers is top of your list for advocacy?
I get it. Maybe the world has changed enough that what was done no longer counts for as much as what is obvious. That “in your face-ness” has a harnessed energy that catapults flashy figures to the forefront of our head-space. And our screens.
When I was young people referred to my physicality as thick. Big boned even. I was never the thin girl. And somehow that made me less pretty, less desirable. And not even in a sexual way. Just in general.
I stopped eating my second year of high school. Like completely avoided the consumption of food. For several months. And I lost a noticeable amount of weight.
But I gained a lot of problems.
Like a massive internal infection that took several months to go away. Like chronic fatigue and dizziness, confusion and constipation. And some unseen mental triggers that I still carry with me, some twenty-five plus years later…
It’s a humbling moment for a teenager when your parents make you come home every single day for lunch to make sure you are eating and your mom* has to give you several enemas because you cannot recall the last time you actually had a bowel movement.
I would like to say that I learned something from that experience, but I am not sure that I did. And if I did, I have yet to apply it. Instead, it exacerbated my food fears and set an underlying tone for my self image. Things would, in fact, get worse. And even now, nothing is truly fixed. While I typically do eat, my relationship with food is so incredibly fucked up that some days I wish I could just not…
may not be am not social media savvy. And I cannot help but think there is something else at play. Something else, stopping me from getting my feet off the ground. I have grown quite passionate about bringing a voice to the table and ending the stigma that surrounds those with mental health struggles. Especially those with mental health struggles and T1D. Mental illness and Type 1 Diabetes advocacy is the passion in my heart, but I feel I am not a worthy advocate.
I am convinced my appearance is so flawed it has diminished my likability. That my insufficiency sends potential followers elsewhere. And that reduces my modern day worth exponentially.
It’s why I highlight my relationship to Banting. I have tried for over two decades to find a way to employ that cool fact as my way in to a position I can use to help other T1Ds. But it carries little to no weight. And I am very aware that me alone has no value.
And that diminished sense of worth triggers my anxiety. Like all of it. And it makes me question so many things about myself, and not just my worthiness. But also my wants, their source, the credibility of it all.
And, my actual, physical existence.
And all the space I take up; it’s too much.
And then, it makes me wonder…am I even worthy of that space?
And then I stop eating.
And I pay a little less attention to my diabetes.
And too much attention to what I see in the mirror.
So I stop looking.
And I wear the same thing for days on end.
And I stop smiling because it makes me uncomfortable.
And then, I wonder…will I ever be able to find the wick again let alone the flame?
And then I stay sad.
And become a little less attentive to my family.
And offer all of that attention to the things I should not.
So I recoil.
And I fixate on sorrow for weeks on end.
And I stay there because it makes me comfortable.
* For reference, my Mom is actually my step-mom, who adopted me, and the only mother I will ever refer to as such. Should I make note of the other one, I shall refer to her has my bio-mother.