Healing is letting your inner child tell their story
Dear younger me, don’t be so afraid to ask for help.
Healing is letting your inner child tell their story. I haven’t let my inner child tell her story as I didn’t know if I could trust her. I felt ashamed for her. My experiences and emotions living with an ED were dismissed and invalidated by the people closest to me to the point I didn’t trust my own reality anymore. I am not writing this to blame anyone, as we are all doing the best we can with the understanding and knowledge we have. However, it made me feel ashamed for what I was going through. Unable to show up in vulnerability and asking for help. For many years, I stayed quiet, hiding this part of myself and slowly losing my voice. To me letting my inner child tell her story means showing her compassion and validation for what she has been through. It means letting her use her voice – maybe for the first time ever.
I was very shy and anxious growing up. When I was 17 I developed an eating disorder for the first time, I became extremely underweight, my hair was falling out and I was constantly freezing. I became scared of food and hyper aware of what and how much I put into my body. People around me noticed my underweight and comment on my body. Even though well meaning, it made me feel very ashamed. Home became a place filled with tension as my parents were extremely worried and overwhelmed. They didn’t know how to support me in what I was going through and would either deny and invalidate my experience or humiliate me for the way my body looked. Filled with shame I was too afraid to reach out for help.
After I finished high school and moved overseas, my condition slowly got better. However, I hadn’t healed the relationship to myself nor to my body. Never having been taught a healthy way to cope with my emotions, I was numbing down my feelings through food and alcohol. I began to feel so disconnected from myself, dissociated from my body and I resented the person I saw in the mirror. My ED voice came back telling me that I wasn’t worthy until I lost some weight again. At first it seemed like I was taking healthy steps towards well-being, but very soon I became obsessed with minimising every meal and restricting again. My world kept getting smaller and smaller and I was withdrawing more and more. Naturally after a while, depriving myself led to strong cravings and binging, to compensate I began to purge. Every single time, I told myself that this was the last time and it would never happen again. But it did.
For around a year I was denying that I was living with bulimia. It became my coping mechanism for whenever my life felt out of control. It came to a point when I was feeling physically and mentally so weak that I knew I couldn’t live like that anymore. I was underweight, I had lost my period again and my oestrogen level was so low that I was at risk of developing osteoporosis. I knew I couldn’t get through this alone this time. Filled with lots of shame and fear, I reached out for help. I was so lucky to find a caring therapist and for the first time I felt understood and seen for what I was going through. After a few sessions we were making progress and through the trusting therapeutic relationship, I felt safe to be vulnerable and share my experiences. Finally I was able to open up to my closest friends too and speak about my feelings. I was surprised and so grateful for all the love and support I received.
Living with an ED can be very isolating and shameful at times. But don’t be afraid to ask for help. You are not alone in this and you deserve to feel seen, heard and understood.