First year in awhile I’ve been single on this day, and it feels good. No high-pressure, commercialized dates. No sugarcoated, over-the-top romance. No overpriced roses. No dependency on a man.
In the spirit of this day of love, I have decided that I am going to prioritize working on the most critical relationship in my life right now: the one I share with myself.
Yes “working on me” corny, but it’s something I’ve never actively done. To venture on a wild hunch, I would guess most individuals struggling with eating disorders haven’t. We’re too consumed in our own bubbles of punishment, self-loathing, and inner turmoil. We don’t think we’re worthy of receiving love.
But at the same time, we GIVE love so freely. We are some of the “nicest” people we know. Most of us have excellent support systems with bountiful friends and relationships. We give to others what we cannot accept for ourselves: unconditional forgiveness, timeless second chances, indefinite support. And when we make a mistake, we catastrophize. When we do not achieve perfection, we must be failures. We identify ourselves by our fragments (our weights, our distorted behaviors, the food we eat) rather than by our whole, genuine selves.
I developed a relationship with you because I experienced such discourse in the relationship I shared with myself. I was abusing myself to begin with: you merely exaggerated it. I was harsh on myself: you merely made the demands and discipline firmer. You did not plant new ideas into my head; you just helped cement and maintain them. You just encouraged the negative self-talk and fueled the disturbed pathology.
What will loving myself entail?
For one, giving myself time and energy to do the things I enjoy. To take care of both my needs and wants. To make myself feel good without experiencing guilt or remorse over it. I have composed a list of things that bring me joy and happiness, and I will make the genuine effort to engage in these activities on a routine basis. Once they feel like work, I will STOP doing them. Even though I did not recognize it before, passion is absolutely different from compulsion. Passion entails no expectations, time table, or punishment. Compulsion does.
On this note, I will make an effort to stop or reduce doing things I don’t enjoy. This includes spending time with people who add unnecessary emotional turmoil to my life, pursuing in activities that make me feel anxious or stressed, wasting time on things/people that do not matter to me.
For another, I will continue practicing my positive attributions and self-talk. Why? Because I am a damn good person! Because I deserve to FEEL like the person I so often project myself to be to others. I want to FEEL comfortable in my skin and FEEL proud and comfortable at the idea of simply being me. I want to FEEL happy with the choices I make and the personality I have.
Finally, I will start stop waiting to begin LIVING. I have devoted so much of my life to “my future,” to “what’s coming next” to “ten pounds lighter” to “being in a relationship” to “after I finish school” to “when I have more money.” No more. I don’t have enough time? Bullshit. I had time to binge, time to compulsively exercise, time to spend hours researching diet plans and weight loss strategies, etc. I don’t have enough money? Bullshit. Happiness cannot be bought and prioritizing my money on worthwhile things immensely stretches the value of the dollar. I need a relationship. Bullshit. I can rely on myself, feel the love I generate from my family and friends, and enjoy the unpredictable spontaneity of dating, lust, and attraction. I need to lose weight. Bullshit. This is a blog devoted to eating disorder recovery…I don’t even need to go into the reasons why this excuse is incredibly flawed, illogical, and detrimental.
Start living now. Live the life you want to live. If you don’t, who will?