by our therapist, Jenna, for Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2017
To our clients,
It takes a lot of courage to reach out for support: change, as you know, is uncomfortable. It’s scary to even think about letting go of the comforts of what we know, and to allow ourselves to befriend the unknown. The fact that you’ve accessed your courage and embraced your fear in order to be here is how I know that recovery is possible.
You are brave and strong, and more powerful than you realise.
You wake up every morning and continue the journey to face your fears and fight something within you, that once provided you with a sense of comfort and safety. Day after day you challenge your harmful relationship with food and your destructive thoughts and feelings about your body, even though they both provide you with comfort and a way of coping. You try as hard as you can to connect to the emotions that you believe to be unacceptable, and by proxy make you feel unacceptable. And although you might not see this just yet, you’re also changing the way you perceive yourself, how you create meaning from your experiences and how you see the world around you.
Each day you’re fighting a battle between a part of you that wants to recover, and a part of you that wants to stay in the comfort of what’s familiar. You’re rebelling against the mean, spiteful, critical voice in your head that, for so long, has dictated how you feel about yourself. It tells you that you’re not ‘enough’ and that you need to be perfect in order to be loved. It takes a lot of courage to stand up to that bully in your head.
But you can and you do, every day, because you were not born thinking awful things about yourself. You have learned how to dislike yourself through the messages projected by our cultural landscape, and from a lifetime of internalising and trying to make sense of painful interactions with other people. We live in a culture that bombards us with messages about how we aren’t good enough, or how we need to look and be a certain way in order to be successful, beautiful, or loved. It’s difficult, and it takes enormous courage to challenge these ideas because they’re culturally encouraged and normalised.
That critical voice, around you and inside of you, does not define you.
I know that you have self-compassion somewhere inside of you, and I’m here to help give it a voice until you can hear it within yourself and actually believe it. As annoying as that might be at times, I do it because I see so much more in you. In all of you.
You are more than an eating disorder.
You can recover.
I know you can recover because I’ve seen it. I’ve seen you, and others, transform. Not just physically and behaviourally but I’ve had to privilege to watch you grow emotionally, spiritually, and humanly. I’ve seen your world expanding beyond these walls, this city, and even this continent. It’s a beautiful thing to witness, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to do so.