Notes to Self: The Same Lesson Twice Is Never The Same And You Are Not Alone
By Julia Webster
I believe wholeheartedly that full recovery from an eating disorder is possible. Having walked this road, I have stood in the depths of this illness at two separate times in my life, not knowing which way was up and feeling unsure if there was a way up; I also know the freedom, ease, and joy that is possible on the other side. When I recovered from anorexia as a young teenager, I felt so certain that nothing could shake the solid ground within me, the relationship I had worked so hard to cultivate with myself and my body. When that solid ground was shaken, though not uprooted or undone but certainly shaken, it required me to step back into the work of recovery and walk a similar yet also entirely different road of healing. The same lesson or experience twice is not the same. The story is less important than the lessons that came as a result and this is what I hope to share.
As I began to fight my way back up and out for the second time, I began to see that this road, though in some ways similar to my previous experience, was entirely different. During this time, I learned in familiar and unfamiliar ways how challenging and important it was for me to ask for the help and support I needed, allow those around me to cheer me on and hold me up often; at the very same time, I needed to show up for myself, take my own hands and actively walk myself towards healing, step by step. Somewhere along the way, I sat down and wrote a note to myself. I did my best to dig in below the voice in my head telling me to do otherwise, and I tried to write and say what I actually needed to hear most. This offered me both a voice and a message as I walked this non-linear, imperfect road of recovery. It also helped me to grow in ways I never imagined possible into a stronger and more open version of me.
During this process of rebuilding and healing, even under the best of circumstances, when I was so fortunate and grateful to be held and supported in many ways by incredible friends, family, my therapist, and my community, there were certainly moments and times when the most genuine extensions of kindness and empathy just could not soften the walls I had built around myself. There were also times when these walls were raised so high, they kept me from myself. The moment I stopped trying to shatter them, they began to soften. The aloneness I felt in so many moments started to lessen as I slowly began to build and rebuild my relationship with my body and to connect to a part of my Self that has always been there fighting for me. This process of healing was both so gradual and monumental.
Note to Self:
No matter what
you have to eat.
No matter the volume of the voice in your head or the thoughts that say otherwise
No matter the emotions you are experiencing in this moment, this day, this week...
No matter what you ate yesterday, last meal, or last week
No matter how much or how little your body has moved lately
You must feed yourself
You deserve to feed your body
You deserve to feed your body
No matter what.
And if you can’t hear that you deserve to,
if that sentiment is unable to penetrate through the thoughts and the rigidity of the disorder in this moment,
then for now, just for now
hear that you have to.
You need to.
You have to eat you have to eat.
No matter what, you have to eat.
Take it bite by bite.
You have to eat the next bite, followed by the next and the next
and if you eat more bites that is even better.
I promise you,
I promise you with all my being,
You are ok to eat,
You will be ok.
This food will heal
And this food is required to help you heal.
Please feed your body
and when you feel you can’t,
know that you still must.
And one day it will not feel so utterly terrifying, overwhelming, and wrong,
this does get easier.
And for now it’s allowed to be difficult,
you get to kick and scream and tremble and question.
And you still have to eat.
You can do this.
You are right here.
And you are never alone.
No matter what, you can do this,
and you have to do this.
You are right here,
go feed yourself.
This note is one of many written during moments of challenge in my own recovery process as a reminder to myself. I am sharing it with you here and now with the hope that it reminds you of your own you: the part of you that is not your eating disorder, that part of you that is always there, that is always with you, and always fighting for you – even when it may not feel this way. And for those moments when perhaps you do feel alone, or the well-meaning and caring sentiments of those in your life are unable to reach you in the way you need most, I hope these words can remind you of the same force that is inside you and fighting for you just as it was for me. The part of you that chooses to continue to take steps towards recovery, to nourish yourself, take rest, reach out for connection and help. These little moments and actions add up, and within each one is healing.
Julia C. Webster is a Masters of Counselling Psychology student who is endlessly fascinated by and in awe of the human experience, the ways we struggle and overcome, the growth that can come from the most challenging experiences. She is thrilled to become more involved with Looking Glass and the incredible, important work they’re doing. Julia is most known for her love of the ocean, walks in the woods, cozy coffee dates (especially at Revolver in gastown), and her wise, fluffy eyebrowed labradoodle, Lou.