Can You Sue Your Inner Voice For Defamation?

20Aug07

I remember reading once that girls with anorexia often think of their anorexia as a separate person. A friend, an enemy. A companion, either way. Often these girls give this second self a name, or so they say. I have no idea if this is true or just a myth passed on through self-help books and disordered eating help sites. But it makes sense. I haven’t named my inner voice and don’t think of it as either a separate person or as a friend, but I’m struck by how truly separate that inner voice can feel at times. How irrational. How not-me.

After Evan was born, I lost about fifteen pounds in the first week or two (half of which was baby, the rest of which was probably fluid, blood, etc) and was back in non-maternity clothes within ten days of his birth. The clothes were a size bigger than I wore before the pregnancy, but I didn’t care. I felt great. There’s nothing like looking in the mirror and being noticeably smaller each day as your uterus shrinks back down to size and along with it your profile.

A couple weeks later, about four weeks postpartum, I weighed myself again, and was at exactly the same weight. No change. I was bummed that the rapid loss was over, but pleased that I hadn’t started gaining or anything.

But then the next day, I felt the urge to weigh myself again, so I did. Same. Next day? Same. No rational part of my mind thought that anything was actually going to change in one day, or two. But suddenly I was very interested in those numbers flashing, literally, on the scale below me. And that translated into completely forgetting how to eat.

Am I hungry? I’m not sure. No, I’m not hungry. Wait, I think maybe I am. But what should I eat? I shouldn’t eat my normal lunch. But what then? How long should I wait for my afternoon snack? If I wait a really long time, maybe I can make it smaller because it won’t be long before dinner. But damn, waiting so long made me starving. I’ll just have my normal snack. Does my reflection in the TV look bigger than yesterday? How am I ever going to lose this baby weight? I am never going to lose this baby weight. I have to lose this baby weight.

That’s when I decided to stop weighing myself.

I stuck with that decision for three weeks. But Saturday I caved. Actually, I really didn’t give much thought to whether or not to step on the scale. I was curious about my weight and just went for it.

Now I remember why I promised myself I wouldn’t. Because despite the fact that I measured my waist and hips and have lost girth for lack of a better way of saying it, that one stupid weigh-in made me feel like crap.

Friday, I was feeling great. Skinny, even. Sure, I have quite a ways to go before any of my clothes from before fit me, but I saw my reflection that afternoon in the automatic doors at Babies R Us and I thought, “Hey, I look pretty good.” My inner voice was being friendly, I guess you’d say. Kind, even. Then I saw a woman in front of me in line at the checkout who was tiny and I realized that she’s not all that much smaller than I am. And again I felt great. Inner Voice applauded me for taking good care of myself: I’ve been walking a lot, doing lots of ab work (a former gymnast knows just a few ways to workout her abs), and eating well but not cutting back. I’m doing great. I’m so lucky that I’m not struggling the way I feared I would.

But post-weigh-in, I felt awful. Huge. My pants felt tighter and my shirts shorter (who knows). Nothing looked right and all I could see in the mirror was pudge. Inner Voice had turned on me. It was saying nasty things. It convinced me to change my clothes six times thinking maybe it was a wardrobe issue and not a mental collapse. Nope. None of the shirts I put on made any difference. Well, one actually did make me feel worse, so there was that.

This is completely insane.

I’m embarrassed to admit that the big bad number that set me off that morning was one measly pound more than three weeks ago. One stupid pound. One pound that set off an entire day of nagging self-doubt and self-criticism. One pound that made that inner voice go all middle-school-girls-in-the-bathroom on me, critiquing every little flaw and finding more where there weren’t any to begin with.

I sort of wish I did see that inner voice as a separate person so I could hate her. Get my friends to stop talking to her. Cut her out of my will, maybe.

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One Response to “Can You Sue Your Inner Voice For Defamation?”

  1. 1 melody is slurping life

    I abandoned the scale years ago. Only my doctor knows my weight…I won’t even let her tell me. Drives me insane although I am in no way overweight.

    The way you feel and how your clothes fit/feel are much better indicators. Plus did you know that muscle weighs more than weight? You mentioned loosing girth and not pounds…could explain it.

    Anyway, I wanted to join your inner voice club. :)


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