I’ve been thinking of starting recovery again (I relapsed into restrictive eating a while back), but the thing that’s stopping me is that over the years that I’ve had an eating disorder my self worth has become so tied to how skinny I look and the compliments others give me. I’m honestly so scared of gaining weight, even though rationally I know my body needs it so it can be healthy, because I feel that I would lose the only thing that makes me desirable/a person worth talking to, if that makes any sense. Do you have any tips on how I could overcome this and find self worth in something other than my looks?
I remember being exactly where you are right now. I'd started recovery and had gained some weight, and I went away for a few days with my dad and my brother. Two days in, I was standing in the kitchen getting ready for dinner, and I completely broke down. My dad came in and found me on the floor sobbing, and when he asked me what was wrong all I could get out was 'what if I'm not even a good person?'. That's how little I knew about who I would be once I was no longer the girl with an eating disorder.
One of the strongest ways that eating disorders hold us captive is by convincing us that we will be nothing without them. They can be so all-consuming that it feels like our entire identity is made up of numbers and weigh-ins and that voice. And without that, there'll be nothing left. It's completely natural to be scared of what's on the other side of recovery. But I promise there is so much more than that voice is telling you.
Before this all started you were a whole, multi-dimensional person, with interests and passions and dreams and an identity built on so much more than your size. You are still that person. Your eating disorder has just worked really hard to make you lose sight of her. But she's in there.
She won't be exactly the same as she once was, because after all you've been through something that most people can't even imagine. You've had to change and grow to fight your way through that and you still are doing that. But when you're worried about your future identity and who you'll be post-recovery, I want you to know that the answer, is whoever the hell you want to be.
Think of how much space in your mind is currently being taken up by numbers and counting. Imagine all the things that could fill that space when the numbers don't matter anymore. Think about all the time in your days you spend listening to your eating disorder and being caught up in the fear that it feeds you. You could do anything in the world with that time.
Learn new things. Follow new passions. Go on adventures. You are so much more than eating disorder. You are so much more than a weight. You are so much more than a body. And one day people won't be commenting on your body at all, because they'll be too busy complimenting your mind, your success, your creations, your kindness, who you truly are as a human being.
It might take a while to find that person, but she is so worth finding. And she's got a whole lot more to offer than world than skinny.
Love & bopo,