I don't believe in coincidences. I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. In May when I hit a rock bottom of sorts with the eating disorder and my life, I picked up the book "Women Food and God" by Geneen Roth. I tried to read it. I made it through the first few chapters but it was a pointless endeavor. I didn't have the energy or focus to actually read much or the attention and awareness to actually absorb anything that I was reading, so I ended up putting it back on the shelf. Yesterday as I was feeding the cat (the cat food is on the book shelf, don't ask) I saw it and decided to pick it back up. In less than 24 hours I devoured the book from front to back. Before bed, in between chores and work, as well as on my lunch break I found myself glued to it. I couldn't put it down. At the risk of sounding super cheesy and maybe a little wonky, I felt like the book was speaking to me. Throughout the book I laughed, cried, gasped, was overcome with fear, shame, relief and many other emotions. At this stage of my life and recovery, with all of the self exploration I have been doing lately, it felt like the missing puzzle piece. No it didn't solve any of my issues and isn't any kind of replacement for treatment or a cure of any sort, but it taught me a lot about myself and my struggles. Although I bookmarked a lot of pages because there was so much that was pertinent and helpful to me, there is one passage that actually knocked the wind out of me.
"I tell her that I have never met anyone for whom years of rejection and hatred suddenly and miraculously turned to love, even after a face-life, LAP-BAND surgery, liposuction. When you love something you wish it goodness; when you hate something you wish to annihilate it. Change happens not by hatred but by love. Change happens when you understand what you want to change so deeply that there is no reason to do anything but act in your own best interest. When you begin to inhabit your body from the inside, when you stop looking at it through, as my friend Mary Jane Ryan says "bank camera eyes", any option except taking care of it is unthinkable." ~Geneen Roth, Women Food and God
Wow. It's been said to me many times that we don't take care of things that we hate. Think about a bad gift that someone has given you, usually it sits in the back of your closet or is re-gifted right away. Because of trauma, abuse and a lot of internalized beliefs over the years, I have had the self-hate thing down pact. Although most people consider me a very considerate person and can't imagine me saying anything intentionally hurtful to others, the self-berating that goes on in my head on a daily basis is far from nice and PG. I have spent the last year trying to recover from an eating disorder, while consistently every day telling myself that I don't deserve to eat. That I don't deserve food, good things or happiness. I have been so confused because I have always had this amazing ability to cater to the needs of others and take care of others, yet I have been clueless as how to go about taking care of myself. I have gone to therapy, gotten advice of others, read books and yet still continuously find myself stuck in the depths of anorexia. Although there have been times of reprieve, I always seem to hit the same wall and end up back in the same place. Am I unable to truly recover? Am I just too sick or too far gone? Am I lying to myself when I tell myself I really do want to change? The answer to all of these questions is no and I am finally starting to see that. The bottom line: Until now I have never truly felt 100% completely worth it. My hate for myself was so strong, that it isn't shocking at all that I continue to struggle.
Although this realization is very painful, it has been the most freeing thing in the world. Through this passage and this book I have finally started to realize that I am not doomed forever. I am not too broken to be fixed. Most of this isn't even my fault. I have spent years running from my emotions and myself because it seemed I had to. It seemed like the only way to survive. Along the way I lost touch with myself and the hatred seed was planted. I have constantly been looking for external things to make me feel better. I have looked everywhere imaginable for freedom, love, peace and acceptance and have always come up empty handed. I now know that I have been looking in all of the wrong places. I will never find love in a place so full of hate. It doesn't matter all of the amazing things that I have in my life, I will never be able to completely appreciate them if I don't appreciate myself. Recovering from my eating disorder is more than learning how to eat properly, it's finding my way back home.