I have been fighting my eating disorder nearly every day for 6 years. I have done everything in my power to push it away, to ignore it, to try to do the opposite thing it wants in order to get better. Everything in me went to fighting this terrible, scary, monstrous part of my brain that I so desperately wanted to disappear.
It didn’t work.
As in life, it’s more complicated than that. It’s too big to fight by putting all troops on the ground and trying to ambush and destroy it. It doesn’t work like that. No, in order to really overcome the things we battle most with in our mind, we have to meet them halfway, show them compassion and then slowly persuade them over to our side.
To do this, my friends, is much harder.
When you have a fight with your friend or a coworker or a family member, you may have noticed that denying everything they tell you and ambushing them and screaming at them does not work. And if somehow you haven’t figured it out yet- it does not work. Overcoming battles isn’t a matter of attacking the other party mercilessly. That would be cowardly; short-term that might make you feel better but long-term not so much. To really work through a fight, you need to treat whomever it is like a friend and have some sort of healthy dialogue and peaceful resolution.
Herein lies my problem.
I put up a good fight for my eating disorder and I tried to steamroll right over it and not let it have its say and it didn’t work. It demanded to be heard. And in order to overcome that, you have to do something much harder than scream and cry. You have to treat it like you would a friend, you have to show it compassion and make it feel safe before slowly coercing over onto your side.
I think we probably all have these things we battle with in our mind. Our insecurities, our worries, our fears, our uncertainties, the things that keep us up at night. And I think we probably all try to ignore them or steamroll right over them. For me this thing is my eating disorder. It is my biggest insecurity, my biggest worry, my biggest fear, my biggest uncertainty.
I did not want to make friends with this thing.
I did not want to make friends with this thing that destroyed my peace of mind for 6 years, I wanted it gone. Out, done, over. But I realized (with help of a qualified health professional!) that in order to really come to peace with it, I had to make friends with it.
Do you know how hard it is to make friends with the part of yourself you despise most? I will tell you: it’s really fucking hard. It’s harder than having that part of you to begin with. It’s 8,000 times harder than this internship that last semester required me to work nearly 50 hours and do 20 hours of schoolwork for no money. That’s cake compared to making friends with this part of ourselves.
In order to live healthy and fulfilling lives, we have to show ourselves compassion and we have to accept these parts of us that we don’t want to accept. (Remember how acceptance was one of the words I wanted to focus on this year? Is it too late to change that?) I am a BIG FAN of compassion. I think compassion is wildly underrated in our society. I think compassion can heal all sorts of ills. I will show anyone compassion who needs it, except for myself.
It’s really hard for me to show myself compassion when I get these eating disorder thoughts because my first instinct is to feel bad and to feel like I’m failing. It’s really hard to constantly remind myself that I’m doing okay, I’m getting there. It’s really hard to show myself this compassion but also gently ignoring the part of me that’s telling me to eat less. It’s really hard to have some sort of reconciliation between the side of me that doesn’t want to eat and the side of me that desperately wants to be fully recovered. It is a long, exhausting, infuriating, frustrating process that leaves you mentally and physically exhausted. To anyone out there who has struggling with this: I know. I feel your pain. It is hopefully the hardest thing many of us will ever do. I read a quote recently that sums it up quite nicely: “You don’t know why you’re tired? You’re fighting a war inside your head. If that’s not exhausting, I don’t know what is.”
Unfortunately, I’m not yet at a place where that side of me is my best friend. Truthfully I still think she’s kind of a bitch, but we’re getting there. I know I can get there and whether your battle be the same or different, I know you can get there too. We all have things about ourselves that we want to change. And we may stifle them and yell at them and tell them to go away but I don’t think these things ever really truly go away until we show them the compassion that we (hopefully) grant to others. If you’ve ever faced your own battle or had to make friends with part of yourself that you struggled with, please share in the comments! I would love to hear. And if you enjoy my blog and need a little more inspiration on your Instagram feed, check me out @coffeeandconundrums with the forewarning that there may be one too many pictures of coffee on there. Some things will never change.