Throughout my life, I’ve cultivated my fair share of love/hate relationships. Interestingly, few to none of these hav been with actual human beings. My human relationships tend to be much more black and white, with love or hate ruling the day. Thankfully, I can count on one hand the relationships with others that have erred on the hate side, and like to think of my interpersonal relationships as mainly filled with positivity. A different story emerges when I examine my relationship with certain aspects of life. As a person who often takes things to the extreme, I find it all too easy to slip beyond a healthy interest in something. Among my love/hate relationships, there are a two that stick out: magazines and running.
Evidently, my love/hate relationships play into my eating disorder. Looking at the sociocultural influences on eating disordered behaviour, experts would attest to society’s emphasis on the “ideal” body being enforced in magazines. Headlines like “Lose 10 pounds in 2 weeks!” and “Get your perfect body today!” are often emblazoned on the magazines that I have poured over since I was a young teenager. I’ve purchased an embarrassing amount of magazines, and the pile in my closet is impressive to say the least. As much as I claim to not buy into what is being peddled and despite my knowledge of the messages on the pages being “dangerous” or just plain wrong, I’m sure that magazines have helped to shape, at least in part, my view of my own body. There are, however, redeeming qualities to those glossy, enticing pages. Somehow, despite my knowledge that magazines can be damaging to self-esteem, I cannot resist the shiny and colourful periodicals gleaming from the drugstore’s shelves. As trite as it sounds, I really do enjoy the articles. Often, the length of magazine articles is just perfect, allowing me to acquaint myself with a topic without inundating me with too many technicalities to process. I’ve often found that a brief article might spark my interest and encourage me to find out more on my own time. The fashion, too, is a pull to the magazine, as I can drool over the perfect fall sweater or newest handbag and dream about actually having enough disposable income to purchase it. In a way, a magazine is a fantasy-land, a veritable treasure-trove of distraction in 200 pages or less. So though I acknowledge that the models have been airbrushed beyond recognition, I still purchase magazines, perhaps because of the escapism that reading one entails.
My love/hate relationship with running began as I discovered the power of the sport to transport me far away from a problem, to calm my mind. What started as a coping mechanism among many quickly emerged as the only way I was able to cope with an issue. Bad day at school? Go for a run. Angry? Go for a run. Sad? Definitely go for a run. Running to numb my emotions is something I’ve mentioned before, and provided me with an escape both physical and emotional from “the real world”. As the rain mixed with my tears on a particularly emotional run, I loved the feeling, the ability to let go and let the endorphins take over my brain chemistry. I do love to run, I love how it makes me feel. But the physical toll of evading proper rest and the compulsion to run every day, to run a certain number of miles each week, is emotionally wearing. What began as a healthy way to blow off steam has become an obsession, a drug without which I experience both physical and emotional withdrawal. I’d love to be able to run because I want to. To run healthy, to run strong, to run proud.
Love/hate relationships are difficult because finding the balance seems an overwhelming obstacle. On the scales of life, I’m a little off kilter. My hope for the future is that my love/hate relationships begin to mirror other relationships I’ve worked hard to cultivate, and that positivity will run through my life, a thread tying together the balance and fixing it into place.