Editor’s note: Today’s post is by the courageous Tayla James, who is coming out on the other side of a long battle with Anorexia Nervosa. Eating disorders and unhealthy body image runs rampant in men and woman of all ages, and we exist to redefine beauty for these people. Tayla’s words are enlightening and brave, and we are so thankful that she would share them with us. Please pass her story on to anyone that you think may benefit from it. -Micaela
–RECOVERING FROM ANOREXIA HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE IN MY ENTIRE LIFE.
In fact it has been my entire life. I can’t even remember a time when I could truly say I loved my body.
When I was little, of course I loved myself but it wasn’t something I had to struggle for, or even think about. I was carefree and wild naturally without trying.
This changed when I got older and falsely believed that in order to be liked I needed to have a certain body and a certain personality. At the time, neither of those things lived up to my fake perceptions of what beauty was and what life was meant to be.
I thought that being thin was all that mattered and being quiet was just not “cool”. Turns out this line of thinking got me into some deep trouble and it would take almost a decade to break free.
From the time I was twelve I hated myself. To me, my body was disgusting, wrong, and not good enough. To me, my shyness was weird, unnatural, and prevented me from being“someone”.
Through my anorexia, I was able to express myself and make myself better. Or so I thought.
The opposite came true.
I could no longer express myself, instead my anorexia was the one doing the expressing.I didn’t even know who I was anymore. I surely wasn’t that little girl who was carefree and wild. No, I had become too caring about what others thought and I had lost my “spark” that made me beautiful.
On my journey to freedom, I learned that in order to break free, I needed to find out who I really was again. I had to bring back that little girl that once lived inside me.
I tried a lot of different things to do this. I rented books along the lines of “how to find yourself”and “who are you?” and although they worked somewhat, I needed more.
I needed acceptance. Self acceptance.
I had to accept myself exactly the way I was, in order to move on and change.
Because I despised myself so much, the soul searching only brought me more self hatred. I couldn’t get over the fact that I felt worthless and never good enough.
How would I ever find this girl again, if I kept getting swept away by my inadequacies?
By accepting myself.
This allowed me to be okay with who I was even with the anorexia and even with the shyness. Being able to appreciate my flaws and all my imperfections was the key to moving on and finding that carefree girl I once knew.
Accepting myself took time and in fact I am still constantly working on it every day, but it’s given me freedom and I have found love for myself through it.
I also found that wild girl again. She is back and more present than ever. She is the reason why I am able to be true to myself and my needs and wants.
Being able to live life with this carefree child has given me the strength to continue to love and accept myself day after day.
Some days are extremely hard. I find things that I don’t like about myself once again and believe I am worthless, but she brings me back. She allows me to see the bigger picture:
Nothing else matters unless we love who we are completely.
Where is your little girl today? Do you need to find her or have you found her already?
Tayla James is a writer, artist and fitness enthusiast. After finding freedom from an eight year battle with anorexia, she now writes about her experiences, self love, acceptance, and how you too, can break free from your own eating disorder. Follow her blog, She’ll Be Free for more inspirational posts and ideas.
Eating disorder hotline: 1-800-931-2237
Suicide hotline: 1-800-273-8255