“Sometimes the strongest among us are the ones who smile through silent pain, cry behind closed doors and fight battles nobody knows about.” – Unknown
I used to tell myself that I wasn’t good enough. Not smart enough, not funny enough and certainly not skinny enough. For as long as I can remember I have been insecure about my size. I thought: “if only I could be thin then everything would be perfect”. The first time I went on a “diet” I was about 12 years old. Counting calories seemed to be second nature for me by the time I entered high school. At 14 I started on a new plan, I was the healthiest physically I had been in my whole life. Finally seeing the results I wanted I became addicted to losing weight.
Still nothing was good enough. I thought if only I could lose five more pounds, THEN I would be happy. I was obsessed with the amount of control I had over what I put in my mouth. The amount of pleasure I would get from people praising my discipline was indescribable. I couldn’t stop I had to keep restricting the food I was eating. I couldn’t eat in big groups of people, couldn’t eat certain types of food and before I knew it the only time I would let myself eat was if I was alone and the food was deemed to be acceptable by my impossibly high standards. I used to say to myself I would rather be skinny than have a life, because what kind of a life was it unless I was skinny? This came from what I like to call my “eating disorder voice”. I still hear it once and a while but I have the tools now to tune it out, back then I didn’t and it consumed my entire existence. I would go to bed early every night just so that I would not be able to feel hungry because feeling hungry was unacceptable to me; it was a sign of weakness. Before I knew it I lost my appetite all together.
I was inexplicably sad and anxious to the point that I could barely eat at all. With every pound I lost from that point on, I lost a part of myself. I was no longer the outgoing, happy person I once was; I became someone that I didn’t even recognize. It was all okay though because I was loosing weight. I had a new defining accomplishment that gave me self worth and that was my weight loss. Towards the end of my long path of self-destruction I remember feeling so weak that I never wanted to do anything, always in a bad mood because, well, I was hungry. I thought to myself that I couldn’t go on eating so little. That’s when I started throwing up.
For me it was less about the weight and all about control. It was a way for me to get rid of built up anxiety and low self-esteem. Essentially it was my way of expressing how little self-worth I really had. I hated myself because I thought I was overweight, I hated myself because I no longer had a hold on what was going on in my head and then I hated myself for going through this cycle. I became a different version of myself. I was selfish, I was careless and I was empty. Finally, with the love and support of my friends and family I was able to get help. I will never say that I am better because I do not like to use that word to describe my journey. Stronger, maybe, but better I am not. There is no better or worse just past, present and future. My story is what makes me who I am and my past experiences have shaped me. I now know that self worth cannot be measure on the basis of weight, nor can it be measured by how other people think about you. Only you can determine your own happiness. I share my story because I want people struggling in similar ways to know that they are not alone. I still have bad days when I hear my eating disorder voice come back to haunt me, but the new love I have for myself carries me through. It took me years to get here but I can honestly say that my eating disorder does not define me anymore. I am not perfect, but not being perfect is okay with me. I am happier than I have ever been because now I know: I am good enough.