“You can’t be loved until you love yourself.” I’ve heard this quote many times in reference to eating disorder recoveries. It’s this stigma that people with eating disorders are unlovable until they love themselves and get healthy. Since I’ve been in recovery for Avoidant/ Restrictive Food Intake Disorder, I’ve gained around 80 lbs. Now I am what is considered a healthy weight for my body. I’ve been underweight since high school when my eating disorder really began to take hold. So while I logically know that I am healthy now, I’m carrying an extra 80 lbs around. None of my clothes fit anymore. I went from a small t-shirt to a large. I went up 7 jeans sizes. Mentally I reacted negatively to all the weight. I constantly mention how fat I am, or how I look pregnant because of my tubby tummy. I hate that none of my favorite clothes fit anymore. I developed an even worse self-image than I had when I was still under the thumb of my ED. Normally when I make a negative comment about my weight, everyone is immediately exclaiming “no you’re not!” “you’re beautiful” “you look great”, but it was hard to believe them. I felt as if they didn’t see what I saw.
The biggest “nay-sayer” was my boyfriend. We spend most weekends together, and they often involve eating junk food, which I struggle with… eating is already a daily struggle for me, on top of the fear that eating junk food will make me even fatter. Throughout our relationship, James, my boyfriend, has always encouraged me to eat, and let me know he was proud of me when I did eat. He proved to me that he was a safe person to eat food around, and next thing I knew we were eating donuts and ice cream together. We went shopping together to get new clothes that fit me, and he never failed to call me beautiful and sexy.
A few days ago, he encouraged me to really look at my body for what it was. I critically judged my stomach, arms, and thighs in the mirror… but then it dawned on me that my body wasn’t as ugly as I had perceived it to be. I realized that when I look down at my tummy, it looks like it stuck out more from my perspective that it does in the mirror, and that my thighs are still muscular looking and not just jiggles of fat. Since this moment in the mirror, I haven’t had a negative thought towards my body. It really feels like I’m onto something here: that I’m beautiful AND healthy now. And I have nothing to be ashamed about when it comes to my body.
“You can’t be loved until you love yourself”… I believe my ED recovery proves just the opposite, it was because James loved me and my body that I did begin to love my body and accept that part of myself.
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