This post is inspired by one of the daily discussion in the Slack group created by Tabitha Farrar for adults in recovery.
It is very common that sufferers of eating disorders have a lack of self consciousness. Wh forget who we really, specially if like me, we are chronic sufferers. I do remember my life as a healthy child, but I have never experienced what the life of a healthy adult is like.
I still remember an exercise my therapist asked me to do, right after I was diagnosed. I experience(d) a very low level of self-esteem. She needed me to realise that I was worth fighting for and that I could do it. I had to ask people around me to write 5 positive and 3 negative things about me. I declined doing the task. Then my mom decided to do it for me and a dew days after, she came back with plenty of witnesses. I barely read it, and removed all value from it. It was biased. Those people, because they loved me, were not saying the truth. And unknown people just didn’t care about me so… I was nothing.
Today I still don’t have a great image of myself. I hate my body. I hate having been sick for so long. I hate my weakness. I am angry with myself. However recently I have started to put all into perspective, to look at my disease differently.
Vero, my dear guide, has taught me that without self compassion, without acknowledgement and acceptance, I won´t get out. I can’t be happy living in anger and frustration and regret.
Indeed, like any experience, ED disorders are also an opportunity for self discovery and like most the painful things, they are an excellent chance to learn.
“Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
― C.S. Lewis
So, coming back to it, what has my anorexia taught me about myself?
It has taught me that I can always thrive and find some happiness or beauty even in the most dark moments. Thriving hasn’t mean recovering, but except for my eating disorder, I have a life I always dreamt for, that I built myself. I have done it through an image of me, where my demons were comfortable for 12 years and I have reached so far.
It has shown me how much pleasure I find in helping others. The power of unconditional gratitude. I was not doing it for the good reasons, as I did to escape from myself, but that energy was there, and is still here. I just have to focus it into something positive, in helping as I am.
Even if too often I build an armour to protect myself, I do care about people. I am devoted to others and if I study science, is to help achieving a better world.
I has shown me how much I love and I rely on my family.
It has shown me what unconditional love means.
That I can be happy and I am simply grateful to those I love and admire. That smiles are food to the soul, and that I love in a way I thought it was not possible a special pair of closed eyes.
It has shown me that it closes your throat, your eyes, and your heart. I lost the strongest woman on the way. I was unfair and ungrateful and a hideous person to her. The one that gave her last breathe to smily to me and her last efforts to cook what I would tolerate then.
I have hated myself for this. But regret leads nowhere. Action does. And my victory, will be for her. This was our war, and we will win it together.
I has shown me I am strong and weak. That I am perseverant and stubborn, but not perfectionist. Indeed being perfectionist is not the obsession I have over food control, and I don’t care how my clothes are washed and hang, I don´t care whether the socks are matching in my drawer. I just need (o omy Eating Disorder needs) my food to be what he is expecting it to be.
It has shown me that life is painted in colours, so is food. And even if now too often I still live in my black and white mental pictures, I now there is more beyond the cave. A world of contrasts and scales. I have a new way of seeing beauty and looking at the world that is waiting to be mindfully practiced 24 hours when I finally let go.
It has shown me what it to live in a dictatorship, what it is to be on the world with no will but a rigid system of rules that you didn’t ask for and that you can’t escape.
It has shown me that it is impossible to please everyone. That we are all different and have different demands and opinions and expectations.
It has shown me how scary I can be and who I don´t want to be.
I can´t see photos of me when I was 11. I don´t want to recognise myself. A pack of bones.
I don´t want to be a liar. I don’t want to be alone. I don’t want to be constantly fearing and depressed. I don’t want to be cold. I don’t want thoughts to be the master of my brain.
I don’t want to restrict on food or on anything bringing me pleasure. I don’t want more misery in my life.
I don’t want to be invisible, nor marginalized.
I want to be a woman. I want to be me, 23 years old. I want to live in my body as I am.
It has shown me how much we are disconnected from our bodies and from what being self conscious is about.
It is not being health conscious. it is not focusing on our image. Wellbeing that is not a size, nor a food style tribe defining you, nor showing control and moderation over yourself. That is not being strong and brave. Being brave is to trust oneself, including our bodies.
Only by falling in all those traps I could realise how deceiving and harmful they are.
It has shown me that we need to learn to live aware and mindfully, because that is real self-consciousness.. To observe beyond watching, to listen beyond hearing, to taste beyond eating, to feel beyond touching, to scent beyond smelling; to breathe beyond being.
It has shown me that I am a victim. that eating disorders affect anyone at risk. that I am not guilty, nor is my family. I was born genetically predisposed, and something triggered.
The we all sufferers are warriors, beautiful persons, full of life and dreams and expectations that deserve compassion and understanding and care. That we are intelligent persons with a great sense of humor and tricky minds, that we are all different and terribly similar.
That outside there, us victims fight and recover by supporting each other.
It has shown me that I need help to escape it. That it requires courage, self compassion, patience, perseverance and gratitude.
This post is dedicated to all the amazing people in the Love Fat Slack group because they are my new best friends and because I admire them.
“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom”