To the girl at Trader Joe’s,
I remember watching you float through the aisles, gravitating to each item with gentle hesitation. Pick up. Analyze. Return. Repeat. Pick up. Analyze. Return. Repeat.
I remember seeing frustration and fear take over your composed countenance as item after item failed your test. I remember watching you, almost in tears, venture on and out of sight. Disappointed. Angry. Afraid.
I felt your pain.
I too, walked these aisles in anguish, aware of the eyes following my weak frame with looks mixed with concern and disgust. I remember feeling unworthy of food, of indulgence, of compassion.
I remember laying in bed, begging for sleep to come. A dull but persistent ache coursed through my body, keeping me from rest. Frustrated, I tossed out about a dozen possible explanations before I realized I had completely lost connection with my body and its senses - that the pain was hunger.
I remember wasting my life away on an elliptical, stamping my insecurities deeper and deeper with each pedal stroke, trying to take up less space in an overwhelming world.
I want to hug you. To laugh with you. To remind you that you are loved beyond measure.
I want to tell you that your body is the mechanism by which you engage with the world - and that the world needs you. There are so many adventures that lay before you, if you could pry free of doubt, of shame, of anxiety, of the voices that scream that you are NEVER ENOUGH. You are always enough. You always were.
I want to sit with you and commiserate. People just don’t get it. I want to cry and laugh and yell, throw our heads back and roar.
I want to hold your hand as you walk into your first therapy appointment. I want to sit through “scare food” meals together, and catch your tears as you hold strong through the anxiety that follows.
I want to remind you each and every day that you are inherently and innately worthy, simply for being.
But I do none of those things. I watch you fade away. I wish I prayed.
I don’t know you. I don’t know your story. But I know that you are strong. You will recover. I know you will. I have to believe you will.
It has been 8 years since my eating disorder first burrowed deep in my brain. He robbed me of my happiness, my relationships, my health, my dreams, hopes, and desires. Determined to step off the treadmill and run my life based on my dreams and desires for the world, I fought like hell. I fought and I fought and I fought.
Recovery feels like a treacherous journey. You’ll climb out of the pits of your disorder. You’ll leap out of your comfort zone. You will fall - over and over and over. But you won’t be alone. You’ll have people around you who love you. They’ll be there to pick you up, brush you off, and follow you every step of the way. And when you get to the top, you’ll take in the view, and know freedom.
Over the last 8 years, I have felt the disorder slowly fade away. I can barely remember the sound of his whispers, the harshness of his voice, the roughness of his clutch on my shoulders. I don’t believe him anymore.
I listen to my body. I move it in ways that are beautiful, meaningful, and fulfilling. I eat foods that nourish my body and bring it joy. I live. You will too.
Intuition is freedom. Recovery is possible. Fight for it.