The Garden of Comparison
Looking back at me I feel a lack of something, a restlessness that constantly tried to be filled.
I see someone who was looking forward to a lot, but forgetting how to stop and experience – because she was so afraid of what other people might think of her.
I remember not being able to enjoy a jumping castle because people might think I am jumping in a stupid, wrong way. That feeling of not doing it “right” kept me from engaging, doing and living. Always.
I saw other people having fun but I forever failed to release myself into the moments, no matter how much I wanted to. My mind didn’t let me. “It” didn’t let me. I did it wrong.
My story is cursed and blessed by this chase of belonging and identification and it reminds me of how when I travel, I always feel lost and watched the first days of arriving at a new place. Almost as if everyone knows that I am new here, and lost.
Growing up I felt like that all the time; lost and like I didn’t belong. I saw how people simply just lived, and I wondered why I couldn’t do the same? So I looked at them and what they were doing, how they were living and what their families and upbringings were like and I started to compare myself, and everything about me, with everything about them. I quickly came to the conclusion that I, and everything about me, was wrong. This was an easy conclusion to make because I could feel it so real in my body; I could feel that I was just…wrong. I felt like everything that I thought was right for the rest of the world didn’t apply to myself. I didn’t feel as happy as they looked, as confident as they acted and as put together and beautiful as they were. This quickly made me turn around and look at myself with eyes that searched for everything about me that wasn’t like them.
When I looked at myself trying to compare me with the rest of the world, with a belief that they are right and I am wrong, I obviously found that I was wrong because essentially I am unlike everybody else. Practices such as these also turned me away from myself, and I lost the trust for my own instincts, needs, wants and feelings. I wanted to be like everybody else, but I was me and therefore I was wrong in every possible way. I studied myself with all different lenses, looking for a syndrome, reason, disease, letter combination; just something that could pinpoint why I felt so wrong and different to the rest of the world, but all that came up was anger. I was angry with myself for feeling how I felt, acting how I was acting and for being this unhappy, ungrateful, needy person for my family. I was angry with the rest of the world for not understanding.
The eating disorder for me grew out of this soil, or maybe the eating disorder was just a nutrient deficient soil where only mould could thrive. With this lack of growth, in this vacuum of dis-growth it was obvious to the world that this wasn’t healthy ground, and for me that took the pressure off for a while. It brought me calm because people didn’t expect things to grow there. It fulfilled my need of identification, but left me still outside of the participation of living and experiencing what I saw other people experiencing. I identified myself with something, but that something didn’t bring me closer to the ‘me’ that was missing. Even though I could identify myself with a flowerless garden it was still a garden with no life.
The first person to ever explain this in a way it made sense to me was my first psychologist Mia. Mia threw all thoughts of food and weight straight out the window as soon as I entered the room for the first time. She basically told me just to focus on seeds of love and keep water and plant and water and plant and water and plant only love for myself and the world, and then she said “the rest will take care of itself once the seeds start sprouting and growing”. She shared with me, in a room full of thank you cards and in a room that breathed hope, that every single boy and girl who had sat where I was sitting shared a similar feeling of not being able to picture themselves free, ever. When I told her I couldn’t either she winked at me and said “my drawers, lockers, cabinets… my whole world is filled with thank you cards from girls who once sat here feeling the same lack.. and so will you”.
And I did.