By Kassie C.
I recently listened to a podcast discussing personality types and Neel Burton’s theory of the differentiation between self-confidence and self-esteem. He believed that self-confidence is one’s trust in their abilities and themselves to succeed where as self-esteem is understanding one’s worth. Burton quoted that “Growth depends on bravely living up to our ideals, not on the ideals of the bank that we work for, or our parents’ praise, or our children's successes, or anything else that is not truly our own”. This concept really resonated with me reflecting on my life, my relationship with my ED and the growth I’ve had into the person I am now.
When I was in the heaviest points of my ED, I had all the self-confidence in the world. I was moving up in my career, I knew I was really good at my job, I had good relationships with friends, family and was presenting as a very put together person. On the other hand, my self-esteem was very lacking; I didn’t value myself, so I didn’t expect others too. I was seeing men who I didn’t let treat me very well, I was letting bosses dictate my time, I was punishing myself with distorted eating behaviours, and prioritizing unhealthy choices over sleep, activity and self care.
It took me a long time to realize how little I understood my worth. I have always been complemented on being a confident person - things that make other people uncomfortable, I thrive in. I moved almost every 6 months for about a decade, being in rooms with strangers gave me energy, I loved job interviews and public speaking. I think this really comes from the fact that if I stayed somewhere for a short amount of time my self-confidence would be what left the mark and hopefully no one would realize how low my self-esteem was.
Looking back now, maybe I was moving so much not to hide my darkness from those around me, but to hide it from myself. I have said before in these blogs that I didn’t know how bad my mental health was, acknowledge my ED or understand the impact they had on each other until much more recently in my life. I was so used to my baseline being unwell that it is what I thought normal was.
I think people get so wrapped up in validation from others that we forget to validate ourselves. I have really dug into my ED recovery over the last year and recently went back to a city I lived in for a wedding with people who I love but who had met me when I wasn’t in a good place mentally. It was triggering. I had the memories of the way I was in the mindset of who I am now; but walking those streets made me realized how much of the bad I blocked out of those memories. But this was also so unbelievably rewarding: I got to be around my people and a place I wanted to love but didn’t have the space to before. Being back there now allowed me to be able to be there fully. I believe that the development of understanding your worth, is one of the biggest areas of growth in ED recovery because it is getting to a place where the decisions you are making are to better yourself, not restrict yourself. I don’t have ton of advice about how to do this because it is different for everyone, but I think that achieving self-esteem comes in little changes and one day you realize you feel lighter and looking back you can see little moments where this began to happen.
My name is Kassie C. I am in my late twenties and am trying to live what I preach - picking yourself first and that loving yourself really is the best medicine. It’s not always easy and it definitely is not always pretty but it’s real. I hope joining me on this journey will provide perspective, connection and solace. So, here’s to life because for good or bad we are all in it together :).
*Photo credits: Kassie C.