The word resilient has been subtly on my mind the past few months. A word we have all heard in our lives at one point or another but to call oneself resilient - to truly feel resilient is both brilliant and beautiful. As I look back on everything my recovery has taught me, resilience is the quality I see.
I have spent a lot of my life wondering when things would get better. When my life took a turn towards anxiety and depression following my recovery my love for who I was got lost. With eating disorders comes a journey of rebuilding who you are. It is not an easy task to do at a time when the only definitive thing you know to be true is that you no longer want to be this person who is in pain.
The eating disorder which had taken over all of you, personality included makes your existence seem difficult to maintain. How can one be themselves when they don't know who that person is anymore? I could write descriptions of the torment an eating disorder has on someone, but to truly feel that hatred for oneself is much more difficult to live through than to speak of.
In some ways, that version of who you were died. It can be horrifying to feel you do not have anything worthy of rebuilding. This can leave you feeling empty and without love for who you are. Opening you up to love that is outside of yourself.
Yet the universe wanted me to learn to trust in myself again. That, and the shock of how lonely life had become surrounded by people who only cared about inflicting negative emotions onto me without remorse. Which would inevitably leave me bitterly disappointed.
My words towards myself for so long had been cruel. The shame and guilt I felt just eating in front of another human being was enough to drive a person mad. So, when I was "better" it was no wonder I chose to surround myself with people who were cruel to me. It was as if the love I believed existed also included hatred.
I did not love others with this mindset but it certainly left my empathy open for others to fixate on. To use, deplete and restore themselves all the while filling me with short lived gratitude and meaningless appreciation for what I brought to the table. Because once someone no longer felt broken my existence to them was pointless.
I would continue on believing that I was better having helped someone even if that meant nobody helped me. Even if that meant never truly letting someone in for fear of being rejected.
I didn't have to feel the empty space that stayed within me. It was a choice to continue on a path that crept closely to isolation. After losing all my friends so young and seeing them continue on with their lives as if mine hadn't completely blown to bits was the first heart break I ever had.
There is nothing more discouraging then feeling like you aren't worthy of love. The only more unsatisfying part is when you can't even love yourself. I still longed for love because I knew it was real. Maybe if anything, my need for love came from an internal desire to love myself completely.
In time I'd see the choices I had made were out of fear of not being enough.
Healing our body is one thing but the mind is an entirely different existence. A process that must be handled with grace. For without doing so, you end up like I was, feeling lost and alone. You end up choosing the wrong people to spend time with and rejecting anyone who might love you and accept you for who you are.
What would you do if the only way to feel normal or a sense of stability was associating love with suffering?
I loved my eating disorder and all I did when I had one was suffer both physically and emotionally. After emotionally abusing yourself, it's no wonder so many of us find ourselves around others who bring us the same pain. The same guilt and shame.
At the time, I think it was simply easier to have emotional pain inflicted upon me, because at least then I would have someone to blame.
We get lost in life and forget the truest form of what It means to love. We forget the significance that comes with knowing how to love ourselves, unconditionally.
I had lost that part of myself long before. It was not a surprise to me that time and time again the world had handed me people who toyed with my heart and disrespected my values. It wasn't that I was to blame but rather that I was the one with the power of choice. The choice to love myself and the choice to choose others who valued me. When I chose to not stand in my worth, the people who drifted towards me didn't see worth in me either. It is not to say that their choices were okay because it isn't okay to dismiss someones value. But I had to first focus towards my own inner worth instead of allowing others to dictate it for me. Only then could I see what was worthy of keeping and what must be left behind.
I got tired of playing the role of a savior for others. I was so tired of hurting myself to help others along the way. It didn't feel right anymore. It certainly didn't feel fulfilling. It wasn't like I had dreamed of as a child.
I was bargaining for any sort of affection or love that was given to me. When what I should have done is given that love to myself. But no one can truly teach someone to love themselves.
I spent countless years chasing love and never stopped to wonder what my love was worth.
But just like the word resilience - nothing is done in a blink of an eye. With all lessons we must learn and reflect with time. Nobody has the power to truly stop this process and certainly nobody has the ability to skip over the work that must be put into choosing love.
We do not have to be perfect to be loved, not by ourselves, nor by others.
It is the imperfections and the choice to love oneself regardless that makes humanity beautiful. As cliche as that might sound its worth stating again that loving your flaws, the parts of yourself you might even hate, becomes easier over time. I often find myself embracing those aspects of who I am because no matter what they are still apart of me.
It wasn't until I discovered that my heart needed to love itself first that I was able to see the boundless power love really has. The true essence of infinite love is one feeling that no words will ever fully capture.
What I do know is...
Love that is resilient is love worth holding onto.