It has been twelve years since you began your journey to recovery from Binge Eating Disorder. Of course, it was a few years before that when you became aware that you were trapped in the cycle of bingeing, restricting, and self-loathing. I know how ashamed you felt and how hard you worked to break the cycle on your own, without anyone knowing and without any help. I’m proud of the way you faced your fear and shame in 2004 and told your therapist, “I think I have an eating disorder.” I’m also in awe of the way you opened up to others after that — telling Mom and Dad, your partner, and your trusted friends. I’m inspired by the way you used your love of writing to start a journal that eventually became a published book. I’m thrilled that you continue to advocate for those who are still on their journeys to recovery.
Since the beginning of your journey, you have learned so much. If I could go back in time and speak to you early on in recovery, I would tell you…
Be gentle with yourself. Self-compassion will be one of the most important parts of your journey. There will be setbacks and times when you want to give up. No matter what you do or don’t do, eat or don’t eat, say or don’t say, be gentle with yourself. Don’t let that harsh inner critic have the last word anymore.
Your emotions are a gift. Allow yourself to feel them. Bingeing is a way of numbing out when your feelings are too intense. Take a deep breath. The emotions will not overwhelm you. They will help you identify areas in your life that need attention. Talk to someone who can help you learn to “sit with” your feelings instead of avoiding them.
Embrace your inner child. Years of perfectionism and rigid thinking have led you to believe that you must be “proper”, “poised”, and “serious” at all times. It’s okay to be silly and childlike and curious. Your inner child is an extension of the True Self, the Divine Spirit within. Give in to those urges to do a cartwheel. Get down on your knees and marvel at the insects crawling in the grass. Draw with chalk on the sidewalk. Sit unabashedly on a swing at the playground.
Feed your spirit. One of the greatest realizations you’ll come to is that disordered eating is NOT about food, weight, and willpower. It is about emotional and spiritual hunger that physical food can never satisfy. So, feed your spirit. Pray, sing, join a worship community, meditate, practice yoga, take nature walks, write poetry, dance in the living room, sit still and just notice your breath, open yourself to the presence of the Divine. All of these things will curb the real cravings.
And again, be gentle with yourself. You’ve come a long way, dear one. I’m proud of you.