I have always been hard on myself.
I would criticise myself, my appearance and think unkind things about myself. Critical of what I said, what I looked like. If I did something embarrassing I would repeat it in my head over and over, analysing and cringing.I have always weight issues going from underweight to overweight in short amounts of time. At one stage I ballooned from a size 8 to in a matter of months. I felt ashamed and ugly. I couldn’t find nice clothes-shopping was hell. I felt excluded, inferior and self-conscious.
Loosing too muchI began to stop eating properly. To skip meals. I could go a whole day on one piece of toast. I basically functioned on cigarettes and caffeine. And of course, the weight dropped off. And off. And off. I felt an almost savage satisfaction when I fitted in tiny clothes and when my stomach rumbled. I could shop in the fashion-conscious shops and wear on trend clothes.One day I looked at myself in the mirror of a changing room.“I saw my shoulder blades jutting out and thought ‘angel wings’.
Eating disordersI have had a lot of friends with eating disorders. I have watched healthy beautiful girls morphing into gaunt skeletal shadows of life. I witnessed their quest to lose everything; to disappear completely. Many of my friends did. Half-ghosts in life, they passed on with barely a whisper “half in love with easeful death’. I thought of them like angels, distant and here for a finite time.Until I thought ‘angel wings’. I realised I had been following their lead, stepping slowly into their feathered steps. I stopped and listened to myself. Listened to the self-criticism I had barely noticed.
I thought of a little red haired girl; one with a big smile,full of mischief and sensitive. The little girl I was and who I still am inside.
My life changed. I changed. I became healthy, put on weight. I stopped depriving myself and started nurturing myself. I no longer fit the fashion ideal. I’m no size zero but I am happy.
Find a picture of yourself as a child and look at it when you are being hard on yourself.
I firmly believe that kindness is the most important gift you can give yourself.