What does it mean to truly live? To truly embrace life and all it has to offer?
For a long time, the thoughts in my head would keep me from living, would keep me from the present. I would be out with my friends and my thoughts would be on the food I was eating, or not going to eat. If I looked fat, what I was going to do with my future.
I remember at times I would be on a date with someone, we would be discussing something or more they would be talking at me and I was having a whole inner monologue with myself. I was constantly thinking about “how much should I eat so I don’t come across as anorexic” or “but how little could I eat before I would then need to make myself throw up” “one bite was too much” “am I just picking?” “Oh shit, did they just say something? Okay, nod your head and say oh yeah” “oh yeah, wait fuck fuck, what the fuck did they say?” “Was that stupid?” “I’m stupid” “oh fuck, I’m feeling anxious now” “I should just excuse myself and go throw up.” As soon as I felt anxious my normal coping tool was to make myself throw up. As if throwing up was going to get rid of all the feelings.
This was no way to live, I couldn’t connect with anyone or be close to anyone because I was so stuck with the debate in my mind or what I called while I was in treatment as the jury in my head. I always felt that this couldn’t be all my brain could be thinking about. The space I thought about all of this, what else could I be using my brain for? Most people don’t spend hours upon hours obsessing about food, eating or lack of. I would spend hours upon hours looking in the mirror and picking apart every part of my body that I believed to be horrific. Or if I had a scale, I would weigh myself a dozen times a day. Whenever I was having episodes of this obsessive behavior where I would catch myself and my day was completely lost because all I was thinking about was my body, I would then break down and cry because I knew this was no way to live. I didn’t understand that this was due to deeper issues.
I would sometimes talk to my best friend about my issues with my body and she would say how she didn’t necessarily like her body either but she didn’t take it as extreme as I did. It made me think maybe I was normal and my behaviors where more normal than I realized. I would justify my behaviors by saying most women don’t like their bodies and obsess on body image that’s why magazines are filled with them or instagram has all these weight lose tips.
Last summer when I finally decided to enter into treatment for my eating disorder in the back of my head I was hoping that would say I either didn’t have an eating disorder or I was really not that bad. For my girlfriend and for myself I knew something needed to change. Something needed to happen because I couldn’t keep living the way I was. I wanted to really feel love, I wanted to truly be able to experience my girlfriend and truly see her the way she saw me. I wanted to live in the present.
At first, I thought some good ol’ therapy would due. And maybe a dietitian/nutritionist. My therapist on our first meeting told me, she couldn’t give me all the help I needed. She told me I needed to go to facility. I was horrified. I sorta knew this was coming as I had already been hospitalized for something related to my eating disorder, and other times I flirted with the idea of getting help, the therapist told me rehab was probably what I needed. Crying to my girlfriend that I needed more help then just therapy, I decided I was ready to live. I was ready to take my life back, to truly embrace all the world had to offer. To stop self-sabotaging, to give myself a full live, a life I deserve. One where I don’t have to keep torturing myself.
With the help of my treatment team, my support, and daily meditation for the first time in my life I feel like I’m truly living. I still have my set backs, where my anxiety gets the best of me, and I spin myself out in the what if games, the I’m not good enough. I still have food thoughts, but they are in the name of recover. I consciously think about what I’m going to eat, to ensure I get a balanced diet. To make sure I eat enough throughout the day. But these thoughts aren’t all consuming it is more about having thoughtful thoughts. Dealing with present and what my body currently wants at any given moment.
I will be out on a date with my girlfriend, and I will be there. Enjoying her, enjoying her company. Listening to her, communicating back. When I read a book, I can actually read and enjoy reading because I’m not obsessing about if I should go throw up, “what did I eat that day? I’m a failure for eating a piece of bread.”
When I go somewhere, I can take in all the scenery. I can admire all that is around me. Smell all the scents. Look at how beautiful the world is.
Truly living for me is being in the now. Letting things happen day to day. Enjoying your friends, your loved ones, and using every moment, every day as a day to create memories and appreciate all the world has to offer. Truly living is giving thought to your future and the things you want but not being so consumed that your life passes you by and you don’t get the life you want. Truly living is stopping to breathe and taking in all that surrounds you. Truly living is looking into your lover’s eyes and being so captivated in that moment that the world stops spinning and all that matters is you and them. Truly living is allowing yourself to laugh silly and not get caught in stopping yourself because you don’t want that moment to end.