When I was 12, someone told me I was hard to love. They told me I was at fault, and I’ve spent more than a decade punishing myself for the damage done at that person’s hands. A survivor of rape, and sexual and physical abuse, disordered eating has long been a coping strategy of mine, and for over 10 years I have fluctuated between severe anorexic and bulimic episodes to manage the impact of those experiences.
It was never about the food for me. It was about what the food distracted me from. It was about the punishment I thought I deserved. It was, and continues to be, something to give physical form to what is actually hurting. But, in saying that, my poor body image and obsession with the number on the scale is very real, and food is something I think about around the clock. Planning my next meal, and simultaneously calculating the subsequent exercise needed to remain in a deficit, or giving in to a binge and purge to escape the discomfort of anxiety; it’s relentless, and exhausting, and quite honestly a vicious cycle that only you can break.
What’s changed for me is that I am now in a place where I can recognize that the same shame and thoughts of being overweight were just as present when I’d starved my body into kidney failure as they are now. I held the same disgust and hatred of my body that I still struggle with today. Because, for me, weight isn’t the issue. Even as it decreases, I feel the same, because the truth to my actions is a pain that is buried deep within my core, and the eating disorder is simply a means of keeping that pain at a distance I can manage.
It takes a lot of effort to love what you want to destroy. To love a body that has been violated or one that has never felt like home. To have compassion for yourself despite the mistakes you’ve made, and under the burden of what you’ve lost in the process. It takes courage, and a willingness to go against all the ways you’ve learnt to live with your pain. It takes forgiveness, of yourself and others. It takes making the decision that you are up for something bigger, the choice to no longer remain in a space that doesn’t serve your evolution.
You have to stand up to that voice telling you that you’re not enough. And I’m writing this as much for myself as I am you, but nothing will change until you realize that you are so worth loving. Regardless of what has been, who you’ve been, how you made it through; you are worthy of love, especially that of your own. For all the years you felt love was lacking, love yourself tenfold. Tell that voice it’s wrong, time and time again. Because it’s your turn to be relentless. Love yourself through this. Choose to experience your body from a place of gratitude rather than criticism, one of love rather than hate. After all these years, you owe that to yourself.