Maybe not the above average bear though. I don’t know what they’re capable of.

Guys, I just clocked level one of therapy.

I feel like I jumped with everything I had and now I’m gleefully ascending the flagpole. I’m feeling rather good about myself, so we’ll see how long this lasts. We all know that the princess is in another castle, right? Grim. Accurate.

I’ve exhausted the expenses of my benefits account for therapy this year, so I can get back into it come January. It’s good right now though. I think we reached a positive plateau with the issues at hand and I can live with my chin up, looking forward to things that’re coming my way. If I backtrack 4 or 5 months, my mind was bogged down with doubts. Qualms of self-confidence, body issues, feelings of worthlessness and undesirability were gumming up my works, preventing me from going at the world with the enthusiasm I desired. On the other side of that, I feel calmer, more self-assured. It’s not that suddenly everything is rosy, but that I’m now equipped with a better emotional toolbox to handle strife. When shit hits the fan, I know how to clean it up instead of letting it fester. I’m not talking an instant fix, but I’ve learned ways to manage and cope with stress and neuroticisms through accountability, perspective and awareness.

The big issue, the body image stuff. It’s something that’s always gnawed at me and probably something that always will. Still, I’m dealing with it with more constructive methods than I ever did. I know delving into childhood is the shrink’s equivalent of IT telling you to reset your computer, but it helped. My therapist talked through my issues, trying to pinpoint the myriad of ways in which my overweight childhood impacted my adult worldview. We looked at certain held values and beliefs of self that once felt relevant, but really didn’t apply any more. Things I’d held onto for far longer than necessary. Like a muscle that’s been wound so tight for so long it doesn’t remember how to relax, I couldn’t understand how strongly these shaped the way I responded to the world around me. Taking these apart and analysing them from afar gave clarity. I don’t know if I ever would’ve gotten there on my own.

We talked a lot about how I’ve resorted to physical fitness almost as a strike against that upbringing. How it’s allowed me to establish and conquer personal goals, which in turn has informed a belief that it is possible to surpass my own expectations. It’s allowed me to see certain landmarks as victories and acknowledge these successes. It’s a far cry from my usual response, which was to instead mitigating the value of these achievements and tell myself it wasn’t good enough, that I had to do better. Acceptance of self helped me to see that I do have value and I’m doing ok.

After framing these as victories, it helped me look at other aspects of my life and frame them positively. Without being arrogant, it allowed me to pat myself on the back for what I’ve achieved in the last 2 years, crafting a life here in Toronto starting from scratch. It’s made me aware of all of the people in my life who give so much just by existing. It’s made me aware that I enrich their lives in return. I have community, companionship. I’ve found confidence in my ability to write and I can acknowledge that I at least know how to string words together better than the aaaaaaverage bear. I’ve got a stable job, I’m in good health and I’ve got a wonderful, loving partner. All of these things have been symbiotic, they’ve fed one another. Each foundation has supported a foundation of a different type, nurturing them and growing reflexively. The more I’ve accumulated around me, the better I’ve felt about what I’ve managed to assemble. Talking through this with my therapist and seeing positive affirmation has helped me accept these developments as things I’ve rightfully earned. I don’t feel guilty and whatever impostor syndrome I’d developed has dissipated.

Realising the extent of what exists in my life has made me more confident. The more confident I’ve become, the better I’ve felt about my interactions with others. There’s almost a tangible nature to it, I can better accept myself as someone who isn’t a drain on others, but instead has something to offer. For possibly the first time, I can see my own value and god damn self-acceptance looks good in a mirror.

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