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How I Healed My Relationship With My Body During Eating Disorder Recovery

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Editor's Note

If you live with an eating disorder, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “NEDA” to 741741.

My battle with an eating disorder began when I was 20 years old and in nursing school. Really, I had had disordered eating from a very young age, but it didn’t become a diagnosable problem until I was 20. When I was very young, around 7 years old, my mother put me on diets, introduced obsessive thinking towards weight, calories, exercise, and constantly shamed me for my eating habits and made me feel as though the body I had wasn’t good enough.

It’s really no wonder how I ended up with an eating disorder when my entire childhood the times I was rewarded by my mother were times that I was losing weight. She would set goals for me and prizes when I lost a certain amount of pounds. It made me constantly ashamed of my body, and started the restrict binge cycle. It was then that I had core beliefs forming. I truly believed then, and still struggle with the belief that I will never be loved unless I am thin.

Throughout my recovery journey I have done so much work to unpack this belief. I have journaled for countless hours, had many a chat with my therapists about this belief, and done lots of fact checking.

In order for me to move on from this belief I had to first accept that I can love myself while living in a larger body. In order for me to believe that anyone else can love and care about, including friends, coworkers, relatives and potential romantic interests, I had to first learn how to love myself.

I have had such an amazing, difficult, beautiful and tear-filled journey of healing my relationship with myself and my body. I wanted to share with all some of the things that I have done that I have found extremely helpful in doing this.

While in treatment for my eating disorder I started a gratitude journal. At first, I was just writing down small things that happened throughout the day that I was grateful for. I had a goal of picking five things a day. Soon after I started choosing one thing each day that I was grateful to myself for. Eventually that turned into three things every day that I was grateful to my body for. This really helped me a lot.

I started viewing my body, not just as this stomach that I hate and my arms that I try to hide, but as a whole being. I started becoming grateful for each part of my body and the function that it plays, of each one of my organs, and of the tiny hairs in my nose. I realized that my body is so much more than just the ways it looks on the outside and the number on the scale. I realized that my body has taken such good care of me throughout all the years that I have worked to destroy it, and that I wanted to return the favor now, and take care of my body, cherish it, and finally allow it to learn that I can trust me.

Eventually, I started doing lots of meditations and learning how to be present within my body and not feel like I needed to crawl out of my skin. I started taking a few minutes every evening to gently stretch because that felt good for my body. I viewed this time as sacred. During this time I healed my relationship with my body. I would repeat mantras to myself during this special time, saying over and over again, “My body is safe. My body is strong. My body is at peace. I am safe. I am strong. I am at peace. I am a warrior.”

I started picking out things about myself every day that I appreciated about myself that had nothing to do with my body. I began to really care about myself and be comfortable with who I am.

I am still in the beginning phases of my recovery and have started to form the most beautiful relationship that I will ever be able to have. A relationship with myself that doesn’t involve self-sabotaging, self-hatred or destroying my body. I have begun to feel a peacefulness within myself that I have never had before. At 28 years old, I have finally begun to care about myself and realize my inherent worth as a human.

I hope that I can help just one person by giving them hope that they can recover from a toxic and abusive relationship with themselves. If you are struggling with an eating disorder, please seek professional help.

Getty image by LUMEZIA

Originally published: February 21, 2022
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