Being a kid was the best. Summers meant milkshakes and afternoons at the pool, winters meant a steady stream of Christmas cookies and snow angels, and the in between months were filled with satisfying jumps into piles of leaves and scattered puddles with an easy, carefree grin. A lucky American girl in the eighties, I was safe, and (subconsciously at least!) I knew I was good enough.
Like many of us, however, dozens of snow angels later, I realized there are pretty chocolates and gold stars to be won by the best and brightest, and I eagerly determined to prove my young mettle. Unfortunately, however, as I merrily collected stars and chocolate bars, a growing need to achieve resulted in a restrictive lifestyle ruled by a cruel inner critic. My “eating disorder voice” was, to say the least, a real piece of work. Day and night she demanded I starve myself to reach a “perfect thinness”, which I could never properly maintain. I consistently felt like a pathetic loser, grasping at straws to feel “okay” in my body and at peace with the world.
As the years passed and I skipped out on milkshakes and snow angeles to work my body and mind to the bone, I became increasingly exhausted. More than that, I was furious! There I was, trying to hard each day to become perfect while my voice beat on about all my weaknesses and failures! I ache for the voice to shut-up and to feel the warmth and happiness I’d enjoyed as a child. For a long time, I attempted to shove my voice to the curb on my own—too ashamed by my violent eating disorder to seek any outside support. As someone seeking to manifest perfection, how could I possible share my dark secret with the world? How could I possibly say out loud, “I’m struggling and I need help!”?
It took hitting a rock bottom of heart-wrenching pain for me to reach out. And you know what happened when I did? I realized that not only do people want to help, but that the best part of being a human is the bonding that results from true and real connections. Through the love and support I found at an eating disorder center, I crawled my way back from darkness into light. I learned to recognize my ED voice and rediscovered something precious I’d known as a child and forgotten—that I am good enough as I am. This powerful realization meant I could stop sprinting at full tilt to prove my worth. It meant I could let go of perfection. It meant I could once more feel comfortable in my own skin… and eat a cupcake without feeling like a piece of crapola.
With this truth in my cap, I began to follow a rose-lined path towards recovery; the same path that I still follow today. It wasn’t easy at first to give up my harsh, restrictive lifestyle. After years of believing I am not enough, it was hard—really, super hard—to accept my worth and to honor my needs on a regular basis. But, with every stumble and trip along my path, I became increasingly resolved to to continue forwards; to treat myself with the kindness I deserve. The same loving kindness all of our souls deserve. And gradually, I began to feel better. I began to nourish my body with confidence, I reframed negative thoughts into positive truths, and I began to truly believe I deserve a happy and healthy existence, regardless of my achievements.
Perhaps you feel undeserving of love today. You might feel like you don’t deserve the cupcake or a job promotion or the compassion of a stranger. But know that these feelings and beliefs are the lies of your inner critic, and separate from you truth. You are not the negative voice in your head and you are not a failure! Your true, joyful self lies within, and is the true version of who you are.