“And you don’t have to change a thing the world could change its heart” -“Scars to your beautiful”, Alessia Cara
I stumbled upon this song by the time it was starting to be overplayed on the radio stations, two years ago. I’d say the lyrics are somewhat relatable, in a general sense. When I heard the song the first time, the lyrics spoke to me.
As a woman in recovery from an eating disorder, the lyrics truly do more than speak to me, they somehow described me; sometimes they still do. Up until May of last year, I was struggling to fight off an over-a-year-long depression (and 16 years of self-torture) that was slowly embracing me into an abyss of negative uncertainty, doubt, and fear. I was, however, ready to change. I was determined to be able to be happy. I clung to this song as a form of positive mantra, a form of guidance towards a new mentality.
I searched for the song on YouTube this morning, for some reason I wanted to listen to it. It had been at least a year since I’d listened to it; interestingly enough the song triggered many flashbacks to excruciating moments. Most of which I’d much rather pretend never happened. Denying these moments doesn’t seem the right thing to do either. I wouldn’t be where I am now had it not been for those mainly self-inflicted-painful-moments. But still, sometimes it’s easier, less embarrassing, less painful to forget.
During my darkest and deepest moments into my Anorexia, I had managed to completely disconnect from myself. My thoughts were consumed by her, that distorted, self-destructive perception. I was hurting my body, my soul, my mind. I was lost in the darkness of myself-hatred.
However, life keeps going, you manage to find some sort of balance. You get back to a “healthy” weight –just cause the body doesn’t look deadly-thin, doesn’t mean that you are healthy –. At recovery centers and sessions, they do warn you about relapse, but one is so happy to be done with it all, that you hardly pay attention. You don’t notice how fragile your mind still is.
It comes back in waves. Sometimes as a reaction to what life throws at you.
When I started my master’s degree two years ago, I was also going through my divorce. Too many overwhelming events. I found comfort in Ana. I started to feel her getting stronger again. I didn’t fight her, I let her win. I thought she would help me. She always seemed like the best and only option. And I fooled myself into thinking that “I’d have control this time.” Of course, I fell into a deep-dark-swirl of fake control, unhappy workouts. I didn’t enjoy eating. I didn’t get hunger cues –I’m still working on that –. I had a hate relationship with myself. But I continued to pretend I was ok, I got lost in it. My last two semesters of my MA were quite dark.
I remember hating the reflection in the mirror. I was getting disgusted by it, again. Her voice would start –sometimes she still does– to attack that reflection, making me hate it even more.
I got tired of feeling depressed, hating myself, not enjoying my meals, or my workouts. But I didn’t know how to get out.
How did I started changing? The answer to that is love. Self-love. To most people it’s obviously simple, I suppose. For me, however, it has been harsh and complicated to accomplish, to admit and to continue to practice. It turns out, as in other relationships, self-love is an everyday practice –an everyday battle at times–.
Today, I’m happy to say, it’s different. Not because Ana’s voice is gone. She’s always there. It’s different because I found myself. And it’s an everyday beautiful and daring challenge, to learn about oneself. To truly see my soul in the mirror and learn to love it. It’s even more challenging to see myself, full body, in a mirror; naked or not, I feel exposed regardless.
As I shed old patterns, I exchange negativity for positivity, peace, and love. I feel a sense of growth, of inner peace to which I’m growing use to. My soul resonates warmly within myself, and I’m peacefully happy. Alhamdulillah. I don’t take it for granted, it has taken me a long time to reach this point. I can now smile at the reflection in the mirror, she looks back trusting, happy.
Still, some days are easier than others…
As I continue to write I suddenly realize that I am 30, and it’s 2018… Joder, when did I grow up? Where did the time go?
Big change. “I still feel as I did when I was 21” jajaja. In all honesty, it is somewhat a lie. The truth is I have come a long way since I was in my early 20’s. Mentally, physically, emotionally, intellectually. And, my body has changed –despite people telling me that I look exactly the same –jajaja
True, I do look young for my age –I think me being almost flat-chested and my lack of fashion have a lot to do with that misconception –, but I do start to see where my wrinkles will form as my skin ages. Natural platinum highlights begin to appear –I see you grey hairs! Welcome!
Well, my grey hairs came around my mid 20’s, I blame school for that. I did not accept them back then, instead I decided to dye my hair black. Now I kind of like them, kind of… jajaja
I definitely do feel the difference in energy and stamina. In my early 20’s I could go out dancing for the weekend, and I’d still wake up at 7:00 in the morning, work out, and then study. Without properly feeding myself, no wonder I felt like I was born tired. I would push and strain myself a lot.
At 30, on the first step toward the third floor –round two of being an adult –one cannot simply attempt to do such a thing. I have learned to appreciate sleep and rest way too much. The lack of sleep is more detrimental than before, and it is definitely tougher to pretend otherwise. Over all, I have learned to care for myself, something I did not do in my 20’s. I stretch more, do more yoga, I make it a point to nurture myself, my body and my soul.
Again, some days are easier than others. But despite my body being older, I have never felt more alive. My soul feels the joy of falling in love with food. The beauty in working out because I actually enjoy doing exercise. It’s not that desperate need to burn calories, or the guilt of eating a piece of chocolate, or a hamburger.
Without my eating disorder, it turns out I’m a happy, easily amused woman who loves to eat and laugh. Without my eating disorder, I am strong. Without my eating disorder, I am at a much better place going into my 30’s than I ever was during any of my 20’s, or my teens. It is crazy to accept the fact that we do indeed age, and that 30 is actually not that old jajaja. Or is that what we say once we approach/ reach it?
As I slowly slip out of my 20-year-old cocoon, I am ready to embrace myself –imperfections and virtues – be better, happier, healthier, wiser. Overall, I am making the conscious decision of tuning into the frequency I want to resonate at, and working hard to stay there. Simply put, je vois la vie en rose…
Ps: I have to add, thank you to my partner for being so loving and supportive. You’ve held my hand in my darkest moments and helped me see a way out. I love you.
An incurable passion for writing; a poet and storyteller at heart. I am a writer on the road.