Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Response: Finding Love For Yourself...

A few days ago, I received a comment on my latest post from Z. She wrote:

“You really make recovering sound like it's worth consideration at the very least. I know that recovery comes gradually, but how can you decide to recover when you have no love for yourself, let alone the love needed to save yourself? Do you siphon the courage from other people? Is it possible to hate yourself more than you do when you're making yourself beautiful i.e. disordered? You've really given me a lot to think about when it comes to my own issues. I think you are beyond brave to speak out against such a silent horror. I hope one day we can all just look at this as a disease and not something we are meant to be so ashamed of. Maybe then more of us would be willing to get help.”

Believe me, you don’t know how much I hope that one day this disease will not be something shameful. I too hope that more and more people out there struggling will become more willing to seek help. Breaking the silence is certainly a step in the right direction. We all have voices and we can all use them if we decide to do so. It’s not easy, but it gets easier with every word.

Let me first say this: Recovery IS worth considering. Sometimes the decision to move forward is like a switch. Sometimes it’s a slow process of realization. Sometimes it’s an “aha” moment. Sometimes you find it has happened before you even were aware of it. So, the question at hand—how do you decide to recover when you have no love for yourself? Well, you start by trying what you can to love yourself. Forget recovery for a second and focus on you.

You may recall a post of mine from a couple months ago called A Daily Reminder. You have to surround yourself with positive reinforcement. It doesn’t matter if you don’t believe it. You hear what I’m saying? It doesn’t matter. Do it anyway. Surround yourself with everything you can. Fake it ‘til you make it. Pretend you believe it. Hopefully one day you will.

It’s gonna make you feel silly. I realize this. But it’s almost…necessary. I mean, I get an alarm message on my cell phone every single morning at 9 AM that says, “I like myself.” It’s my phone telling me to like myself. It’s me telling me I like myself. And I don’t even hate myself, girl. And I still do it. I still make myself receive that message.

Do something like that. Put a sign on your mirror so every morning when you look in it you see something positive. Something that is telling you that you like yourself. That you love yourself. That you are good. It may be false. You may not like yourself or love yourself, but it sinks in. Allow it to happen.

Let me lay it out differently. If you hear the message, “You’re fat” or “You’re stupid” every day for your whole life, you’re going to start to believe that, right? Well, if you hear the message “I like myself” or “You’re good” every day for your whole life, you’re going to start to believe that too.

Cool, huh? Do a role reversal. If you smile because you find the message silly for a while, it’s still serving a purpose.

And yes, you CAN siphon courage from others, but ultimately, that courage must fuel your own courage. You can rely on it in bits and pieces…or for short periods of time…but you need to use it as an example of what you want to give yourself, not a replacement. Know what I mean?

By all means, surround yourself with people who fill you up and help you. Support is vital. Let it buoy you up and hold you above the water so that you can finally start to work on your issues and rise above what is bringing you down. In time, you’ll find that you are doing a lot of it on your own, and you don’t need them to do it for you.

A helping hand is never something to push away. Just remember that the goal is to be helped into helping yourself.

In response to your other question, it is always possible to hate yourself more. But it is always possible to love yourself more too. Don’t choose the wrong end of the spectrum. A choice is easy. It’s the following through that’s difficult, but you have to believe it can happen. You can’t give up on yourself—even if you don’t like yourself.

I hope I’ve given you more to think about. I know I put it all out there as if it’s simple, but it’s not and I will never pretend it is. Please feel free to respond again…and remember—the simplest things (like what I’ve been describing) are sometimes the best things we can do for ourselves. So don’t make excuses… today is the perfect day to begin.

Much love,



Silly Girl said...

It's been about two months since I started in earnest on the road to recovery. I'm 35 but have an active anorexic since I was 16. Some days, I'm okay and others I feel one step forward, three steps back. I'm been having some wanting to restrict but talking myself from it days. I found your blog by accident or maybe fate. I have saved this post in my journal I write in every night. Thanks for the positive words.

Z said...

Arielle, you inspire so many, including myself and Silly Girl up there :). It took a long time to sink in, but I have finally decided to put up a tiny note in my bathroom mirror that says "I am worth something." It's small for now, but I hope I can see it every morning and hopefully get through the day a little easier. Thank you so much for replying; I think it is so wonderful that you take the time to reply to your readers. Also, because of you, I'm even looking into going to a support group once this semester ends. It's time to stop existing in this "safe" place and get to living. Again, thank you so much.