When I was sixteen, I was told by a doctor that if I didn’t stop starving myself, I would be dead within 6 months.
When I was seventeen, I was having such a hard time controlling my bulimia that I was throwing up blood multiple times a day.
When I was eighteen, I decided that I wanted to live–not just exist, but to thrive emotionally, mentally, and spiritually somewhere outside of a cage of self-hatred.
I chose life. It was the scariest decision I’d ever made, but I’ve never looked back. And these days, I am proud to say…
I am alive. And I am beautiful.
There are some things that happen in our lives that shape every angle of who we will become. I have now been in recovery from anorexia and bulimia for sixteen years. That’s not to say that the dark voice of self-loathing simply vanished one day. You know the voice I’m talking about–the one that whispers, “You’re not good enough. You’re embarrassing to look at. You’re ugly, fat, stupid, and everyone else thinks it too.”
Nope–I still have to fight to kick that voice in the gut every single day. But over the course of sixteen years, I’ve gotten pretty good at kicking.
Every day is a choice. I wake up and choose to grab life with both hands. I wake up and choose to listen to love over hatred, to embrace light over darkness. I wake up and choose to live.
I haven’t gone into too much public detail about my eating disorders–but I am ready to start telling more about that very influential part of my story, because it has deeply shaped who I have become and why I am so passionate about where my business is going. It’s a part of my journey that I sometimes feel a deep shame about–and so I feel nervous and vulnerable putting it out there for all to know about.
Yet at the same time, I feel like this is one of the most important messages I can tell you. It’s especially important when it comes to fighting against the negative self-talk that is bound to creep in when we succumb to the Culture of Comparison. I want you to know:
I’ve been there. And some days, I AM there.
Listening to an inner voice of negativity on a daily basis really sucks. It affects the way you choose your clothes in the morning. It affects whether or not you hang out with friends. It affects the way you hear compliments. It affects the way you talk about yourself in front of your children. And it affects the way you see (and judge) other women.
But you don’t have to listen.
That voice might still be there, but you can let the message wash over you without touching you. “Like water off a duck’s back,” as an old friend’s mother used to say. The negative message doesn’t have to stick.
I don’t have a utopian vision of a perfect world where we all see ourselves and each other without flaws. But I do have a vision where we have the courage to see ourselves and each other in the light rather than in the darkness. Where we choose to see Beautiful. Where we choose life.
I want you to know that I am on this journey with you. I’m in the trenches with you. I know the power of those dark voices. I know how hard it is to respond with courage and self-appreciation. But we can do hard things. Especially together. Hard things are always easier to do together.
And you don’t have to comment here or post on our Facebook page or tag an Instagram photo to feel like we’re in this together (although with each comment and post, the community of support grows stronger). Just know that we’re all out there, each one of us, fighting against that negative voice and working toward embracing our beauty together. Know that I am out there fighting the fight, too.
You’re not alone.
Now…I have a challenge for you. When you’re done reading this, I want you to close your eyes wherever you are, take a deep breath, and just say these two lines to yourself:
I am alive. And I am beautiful.
The first sentence is a sentence full of gratitude. And the second sentence is full of truth. And if you are feeling especially brave to go on this journey with me, we’ll be holding those two things as our strongest tools: gratitude and truth.
We are alive. We are beautiful. And we’re still kicking.