Written by Recovered
Group on Tuesday was about self love and self-forgiveness. In early recovery the idea of loving myself seemed so foreign, and so in the distant future, that it was pretty much unattainable. And the concept also kinda made my skin crawl lol. I couldn’t understand how I would move on from being incredibly self-loathing. Sure I didn’t even deserve to love myself anyways, right? Wrong.
The problem, for me anyway, was that I was very tangled up in ED’s web of deceit. I really wanted to be fully honest with myself and others, but frequently found myself in a ball of shame, glossing over things, or pretending I had done things pro-recovery that I hadn’t. I used the word ‘try’ a lot. But sometimes I wasn’t even trying. And so I hated myself even more- a very unhelpful response may I add!
I would receive encouragement and it would transform into self-hatred as I felt unworthy of encouragement. I would receive a prompt to go do the thing I had been asked to do many times, and suddenly it was transformed into ‘they hate me, everyone hates me, I hate me’. I would do behaviours despite not wanting to, and then I’d feel really guilty which would lead to more self-hatred. Of course when I didn’t do the behaviours then I would get such backlash from the ED that it all ended in self-hatred anyway. Can you see the main culprit here? The condition!!!
In early recovery I did things quite differently to now. I made a recovery blog where I edited photographs with quotes I liked. It was a productive distraction. The more I read the positive stuff, the more it was seeping into my subconscious. I covered up the mirrors in my house, cut tags off all my clothes and threw out clothes that the ED was holding onto. I went to every group, and I mean EVERY group. I didn’t make excuses, but there were plenty I could have come up with including financial and finishing college.
I stuck quotes and reminders all over the house. I didn’t have many friends into my house in the early days of recovery, and the ones that did visit knew about my difficulties so they didn’t pass any head of all the bits of paper stuck everywhere. People really don’t care. They are busy worrying about themselves anyway.
I realised too that how we treat ourselves sets the tone for how we think about ourselves. The better I treated myself, the better I ultimately felt about myself and thus the easier it was to treat myself better. It was a win-win sort of situation that went around in circles. It might have felt harder in the short term, but in the longer term it works.
It’s difficult to love yourself when you’ve treated yourself so badly all day, insulting yourself, depriving yourself of basic needs and engaging in self destructive behaviours. So I suggest little baby steps of self-kindness. That’s what I did and it worked. You need to answer back the condition, and tell it that it’s wrong, you DO deserve, you ARE worthy.
I began to notice the little compliments I was given. One part of me wanted to block my ears and rot in my self hatred (so dramatic lol). But there was definitely a part of me that was sick and tired of being sick and tired. That second part was the real me. She wanted out of this miserable state of being. I would be reminded that robbers break in through the back door. And that it was helpful to be indirect with the condition sometimes. So instead of trying to love myself, I just tried to like myself a teenchy bit more than I did before or hate myself a teenchy bit less. I just tried to change the tonality a bit, sneak in a bit of extra self care. I used to try to brainwash myself, sure I had been brainwashed into ED, so why wouldn’t it work in reverse!?
Everything was coming together to increase my self-confidence. I remember a very early group where a girl was talking about lovingly putting cream on her arm. And how it wasn’t the act of putting the cream on, but more so HOW she did it, the intention behind it. I was so shocked. I was looking at her aghast, like how do you not feel guilty for that?
What I realised is that guilt is such a waste of time. And the condition loves to distract us and suck all our energy up with guilt. But guilt is for people who commit serious crimes like murder. It’s not for people who rub some cocoa butter on their elbows or eat a cheese sandwich at 1pm. It helped me to take a step back and realise how irrational it was to be thinking so many guilty thoughts. I just kept reminding myself that I wasn’t doing anything wrong. I wasn’t committing crimes!
I also used to tell the condition I’m doing this because practitioner X suggested it, sorry ED. It helped sometimes to take the pressure off myself, and to recover for someone else. In the early days I did it for my fiance. I wanted him to be my forever person, but he said that ED wasn’t coming too. In the later stages of recovery I had to take full responsibility for myself, and do it for me. Which was scary but also felt amazing.
In the early days myself and my fiance argued non-stop about nutrition. He would say I was irrational because I wasn’t nourished enough, I would turn into a rabid dog and scream at him. It makes me cringe thinking about it. But from this vantage point, with a brain that has been well nourished for some time now, I can confirm that indeed a malnourished brain is an irrational brain. Nourish yourself!
Prior to joining Marino I believed that if I worked on the mental stuff, then I would be cured of ED as sure ‘it’s not about the food’. Wrong. Then I believed that it was actually all about the food, and I could possibly eat my way to freedom because ‘ED is a brain disorder’. That wasn’t right either. Then I found Marino, and learned that there is no Freedom without nutrition of course, but you gotta marry the two. Work on both. So I can confirm that a well nourished brain plus doing the suggestions you learn in sessions to change how you think, leads to a very self-loving life.
It sounds so easy when I look at it from here. Like why not love ourselves? WHY NOT? Who says we can’t? It’s an inner dialogue anyway, it’s a choice, it’s nobody else’s business.
I’m really attracted to people who love themselves. Not in an obnoxious way, but I mean that sort of palpable feeling you get off some people. They accept themselves, they care about themselves, and ultimately take responsibility for their welfare. I love that!
I used to be so so so afraid I would end up big headed. Growing up I got dog’s abuse on the street for supposedly believing I was better than everyone else. The funny thing was that the self hatred started young for me, so I most certainly did not think I was better than anyone, quite the opposite. I scared myself throughout recovery, that if I admitted I liked myself, and got forbid LOVED MYSELF that I would be deemed to be up my own a$&%. That everyone would dislike me intensely.
But what I’ve realised is that if you love yourself, you don’t go around announcing it to the world. And the ones that do that probably don’t love themselves anyway. It’s more a feeling. It’s how you carry yourself. You take the seat when you’re offered it. You look after yourself. Head up. You know you deserve to be here, to take up space, to breathe the same air. It’s when you go asleep at night, peaceful that you’ve not been committing crimes all day, peaceful in the fact that you are good enough for YOU- and that’s all that matters.
I wish I laid out crumbs along behind me a la Hansel and Gretel as I travelled from self-hatred to self-love. But I didn’t. I don’t really know how I got from one to the other, except that I followed the suggestions of the practitioners. I did as many sessions as we could afford, and I worked on recovery between the sessions. It’s not one single thing that takes you to self-love. It’s all the things. So just keep putting one foot in front of the other. And never ever give up, because it’s so worth it!
I loved this post. I thought it was brilliant and very helpful. It inspired me to get card and turn my bedroom into my ‘Reassurance Room’ with helpful quotes.Here’s a pic!
Thanks for writing it:)