My Enemy Was The Mirror

The absolute worst abuse I have ever suffered from has been the emotional beatings I have placed upon myself. It's very true...I have beaten myself up...insulted myself....treated my own body like crap... and worse than any man in my life ever has or ever could.

In the past I have called myself:

a bitch
a burden

In the past I have neglected:

my own emotions
my future
my dreams
my health
my body
my spiritual growth
my intellectual growth

How it has affected my life:

by allowing myself to be a victim of abuse at the hands of others
an eating disorder when I was a teen and into being a young adult: bulimia
weakened my body and mind by not eating right
suicidal thoughts when I was a teen
living with pain that could have been managed by going to a doctor
I have not been able to trust realize when others truly loved me, or didn't
kept myself frozen in place out of fear that I would fail

Wow, even writing all that out I want to shed tears for myself.

This past weekend I read some personal blogs where people wrote about their own struggles with self esteem, and eating disorders. There was one in particular where I read a poem which pulled out some memories of "me" when I was a teen, and young adult who suffered from bulimia. That's not an easy thing to admit, but it is a path I have walked in my life.

I remember walking into the very first eating disorder support group meeting I attended. It was during the car ride there I tried talking myself out of going...

"They'll never believe you."
"They'll laugh at you."
"You a bulimic??? HA! That's a joke! Look at you, you're their worst nightmare - FAT!"
"You can't even get an eating disorder right!"
"I am a freak of nature!!!"

Yes, I was pretty harsh on myself. Not only was I abusing my body, but my mind was destroying my soul. I kept my own cycle of abuse going. When there was no one in front of me, attacking me emotionally or physically, I filled in for them until they came around.

Shaking like a leaf, I walked into that eating disorder support group. I took note of all the other women was obvious to me some were anorexics....and when I noticed that, once again I felt like their walking nightmare.

The door of puberty opened for me when I was just nine years old. I've never been a petite woman. My genes wouldn't allow for it. By the time I was eleven I was already taller than the average woman,and I already had the hour glass curves of a full grown woman. Those curves were already more than ample. Sturdy German stock my father always referred to it being.

So as I took my seat for the meeting, I decided I will just spill it all out....get it over with...and never come back to another meeting, while convincing myself that at least I tried. As usual, for any meeting, introductions started it. One by one the women gave their name and a brief history of their reason for being there.

The woman before me was indeed an anorexic, her slight fragile frame sitting next to my "sturdy stock." A very uncomfortable place to be in, and I think for both of us. When it was my turn I started out with the traditional 12 step mantra...

"My name is Eva, and I am a bulimic..."

And then the self doubt entered...

"Well I think I am a bulimic....I am not sure what the hell to call it. I don't binge and then purge. I just purge. It could be something as little as a cracker, followed by tons of water. Maybe I shouldn't be here. Maybe I should just go. I don't know what the hell I am or where I fit in."

Ahhh, yes, the ramblings of an insecure...emotionally beaten and battered...young woman. Thankfully there was a counselor overseeing the meeting, and she stopped me from the attack I was unleashing upon myself.

"Eva, you are welcomed here. You need to know that an eating disorder is about control. An attempt of taking back control in an out of control environment."

She went on to explain that for some people they self nurture with food, and with others it's about ridding themselves of pain, a poison within, and food is the symbol of that pain. Denying one self of it, or purging it out (whether or not they binged as is often assumed) is a way that person controls what comes into their body. Like anything else, she explained, an eating disorder is as individual as the person, but the one thing all victims have in common is they are all hurting, and carry open wounds from something that has happened to them in the past.

I can remember thinking to myself that maybe for some it was also a form of slow suicide.

I continued with those support group meetings, and followed it up by what I do best....research. While my low self esteem continued on for many years, and surfaced in other ways throughout the years, the last time I ever purged, I was still a very young adult.

It's only been over the course of the last 5 years that I've been able to face myself and take ownership for the self abuse I have dished out, and that doesn't happen overnight. It takes a lot of deep self reflection, and convincing yourself you are worth every minute of the work.

There are still days I struggle with negative thoughts about myself, but they are nowhere close to the self beatings I use to do. The difference now is I also know how to recognize that road when I step down it and not allow myself to get lost in it.

I think one of the keys for me has been realizing I can forgive myself, and realize that I don't have to be perfect. I also needed to stop seeing myself as an object...much like the men who abused me viewed me.

There's that Golden Rule many of us live our lives by.."Do unto others..."

My word of advice to those finding the path to surviving, and regaining your self esteem..."Do unto yourself as you as you wish for others..." Victims often nurture others to fill a need...we treat people around us with the care we wish someone would show us. A survivor knows that we are all created equal, and by caring for our own selves...loving our own spirit...respecting our own bodies....we can then truly live by the Golden Rule.


Angela said…
I'm so glad that you were able to share your struggle, but also your tips for success. This was wonderful to read!

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