Someone asked me recently why I’ve had an eating disorder. This was a loaded question. I immediately felt a tightening in my chest and a surge of insecurity as I struggled to find the words to defend my disease and its thirty year presence. I quickly sifted through my brain and started rattling off a bunch of predisposing factors that were in my life. I felt this pressure to come up with a good enough answer that validated why I had been so obsessed with this evil thing for so long. I’m pretty sure I did a good job answering the question because I hit most of the known bullet points that I have spent countless hours in therapy going over. Honestly, I felt a little vulnerable just answering the question as I let this person have a view of the building blocks of this disease and what that looked like for me…..
Later on I sat down with my thoughts, cracked open my journal and began to dissect my answer a bit. I wrote down the key words like “control”, “perfectionism”, “insecurity”… and things of the like. However, when I got to the bottom of the page I scanned back through my writing. I realized a major theme throughout my words. I deeply cared about what other’s thought of me and how I was perceived. It’s as if I have cared entirely more about what other’s think of me than what I think of myself. There was a bit of an epiphany there. I can attack and lock down on my eating disorder habits all day long until I’m blue in the face. But, if I don’t go after what I fundamentally believe to be true about myself then this thing can disappear out of sight all it wants. It will truly only be waiting in the wings for me for the day that I crack. I know that now.
That said, I am a little bit obsessed these days with talking about our internal dialogue. I am a little bit preoccupied with the narrative that we let run through our minds both actively and passively. We have GOT to be incredibly vigilant about owning what we think of OURSELVES. I have lived my lifetime thus far with a poor self image. I realize that I have actually used others and ultimately my eating disorder as a vehicle to harness some self acceptance. My eating disorder has stuck around as long as it has because without it I am just left with my own thoughts about my worth…. And as long as that narrative has been a crappy one I’ve needed to dip into my bag of tricks to survive feeling so shitty about myself. Pardon my French.
It makes so much sense to me now.
Authenticity Defined: of undisputed origin, genuine
We get one shot. We get one life where we get to express ourselves and to live out of who we truly are. Self doubt meets us at the door and offers us an escort into any situation. Doubt sticks out its grimy hand, rifles through its bag, and offers us masks and barriers, and vices, and, for me eating disorders. It takes its gangly finger, lifts it to our mouth and tells us to hush. That bag of tricks only serves to hide our authentic selves. We become too afraid to be authentic because we care too much about what others think of us and we often have a poor view of how we see ourselves.
Instead of complimenting one another on how we look all the time maybe we could start to practice complimenting one another for WHO we are. Maybe we could start with doing this for ourselves. Maybe we could take the time to see that magic in our character and personality and call that out a time or two. Maybe if you see something someone has done that is a really beautiful gesture you could take the time to remark on it. Maybe we raise our sons and daughters to believe they are of inherent value. Maybe we compliment them out loud when we see things like kindness, determination at basketball practice, stellar commitment with their homework, etc.. Maybe we can alter just a tiny bit the way we see one another and the way we talk to one another. Maybe we can alter just a tiny bit the way we see ourselves and the way we talk to ourselves.
I believe with everything in my core that our deepest hunger is to feel seen, to be heard and to know that we matter to this world and to the people in it. I believe that when those fundamental needs aren’t met we let things like self doubt in the door. We welcome its ugly presence and we hide behind things. How about we get about the business of locking the door guys. How about we open our hearts to our worth and we let that in. Maybe we become a haven for our own worth. A home for our hearts. DO NOT let yourself tear yourself down anymore. It literally kills you slowly and calls for a deep slumber over your genuine origin, your authenticity.
I hear you.
I see you.
You matter to this world and to the people in it.