A couple of days ago I went for my first reunion dinner.
Reunion dinners are funny things. They are supposed to be a time of gaiety aren’t they? A time when dear family members and not oft seen relatives gather around a bubbling hotpot and partake in communal joy.
I’m introverted by nature (which simply means I recharge my social energy by people alone and doing ‘me’ things) but I do like hanging out with people and I love hearing from people and their experiences. Family time means the world to me so every time there is an invitation I will ensure that I’m there. But oh man, such gatherings always take such an extreme toil on me. 🙁
I want to be brutally honest here- I know that it’s a chore not because of anything external but because of my own self consciousness. There is no one to blame, just my own insecurities which shouldn’t even be there. It amazes me to think how slow my mind has healed in relation to my body; how fast my mental health deteriorates in relation to my body.
Physiologically I would consider myself fully healed of my (self) abusive past. My knees no longer knock together when I sleep, my stomach no longer growls. My ribs can no longer been seen jutting out and nor does sitting for long hours hurt my tailbone. My hair is full and my face is gorgeously ruddy most days. When I physically exert myself, I feel my heart pumping strongly and I’m confident of my body’s ability to climb up flights of stairs and I can run, jump and skip to my heart’s content. I haven’t been sick in years and I know I’m really healthy.
Mentally, most days I do really well. Yet there are some days I yearn for my skinnier self. I yearn to fit into pieces of cloth sewn by societal standards. I yearn to be a certain number on the scales. I yearn to look not like me, but like somebody else. Fortunately I think I’ve reached a point where these feelings are few and far between but I wouldn’t deny that there are days where these thoughts still plague me.
And these thoughts plague me none more severely than days where I have to push myself out there and meet people I usually only meet once a year. Suddenly I forget that I’m beautiful and that I’m enough. Suddenly I see myself only through their eyes and even before they have judged me (if they even do), I’ve judged myself. I cringe at the thought that year on year I’ve only been getting bigger in their eyes.
I left that reunion dinner almost in tears once again. It’s not that the people were bad or malicious but good natured jokes are severe triggers on people vulnerable to such attacks. What may be a lighthearted jab at a person’s weight to some may be terrible stab to someone who not only spent years battling a secret eating disorder, but who just hours ago, had to muster up all sorts of mental motivation to even step foot into the house. It was exhausting even to get to the place, let’s not talk about even having any energy left over to deal with such teasing.
And after I left the dinner place, I felt my heart hardening with steely resolve. I wanted to lose the weight, I wanted to be skinny and beautiful. I will do whatever it takes. I will lose 10kg, 15, whatever. I will be a skinny minnie. I need to binge, to eat away this pain, no I can’t, I just need to be disciplined and motivated. I AM disciplined and motivated. I can do this. I just need a plan. I wouldn’t eat carbs. I will go on a juice fast… I will research it now…
With every thought that was going through my mind, my heart hardened in response and I allowed it. With every statement I felt the pain ebbing away only to be replaced with my determination to make things better. I was obsessively scrolling through Instagram and searching out #juicefast or #weightloss and all these while, my fiance’s well meaning words literally fell on deaf ears and a heart so steeled against the words of the world, it wouldn’t let the good ones through either.
Then suddenly things came to a hilt. Perhaps it was all those days of striving to treat my mind and body better. Perhaps it’s all those days of surrounding myself with positive thoughts and people but deep down I knew that this determination to make things better was self abuse. It was not self love and they were all lies. I’ve come too far, experienced too much to not recognize what true self love is now. And whatever I was intending to do was certainly not self love- only the clamour for external validation.
And the more I thought about it, the more my heart softened. And with the softening of my heart I allowed the words and memories of the people around me to flood its chambers. Memories of happy times with my family and friends, laughing over food, not worrying about calories thawed the edges before making its way to my core. Memories of my fiance cupping my face or interrupting me mid sentence to tell me that I’m beautiful warmed the icy core.
And my heart felt soft, full, warm and most importantly, alive.
I could see so clearly then the abyss I so nearly threw myself into. The lies I told myself and allowed myself to believe that so nearly caused my destruction. It had nothing to do with the people around me or the gathering or anything, it was all my disordered thinking. All my doing. All in my mind.
People often ask me how to deal with their eating disorders, how to recover, how to eat, what to do. And I’m going to tell you now that the answer is in a softer heart.
Your days will always be a battle but don’t let the world and what (you think) it says harden you. On your good days, cherish every single moment and file it away in your mind and most importantly, your heart because when the bad days come and your mind deceives you and tells you that you are not good enough, not beautiful enough, not worthy enough, it’s these very memories that will tide you over and bring you back to the side of truth.
I am beautiful, I am worthy, I am alive, strong, enthusiastic, head over heels in love with life-
and so are you…
if you would only allow yourself to be.
Go out there and be strong my lovelies. Everyone has a battle of their own to fight. Make sure yours isn’t against your beautiful self.
With all my love,