Becky Curl

@becky-curl | contributor
Writing has always been the easiest way for me to communicate with others. I just want my words to help others the way theirs have always helped me.
Becky Curl

Body Dysmorphic Disorder Is the Real Enemy, Not Your Body

I hope one day I can look in the mirror and see myself for who I really am. I want to look into my own eyes and see more than my loneliness. I want to look at my crooked smile and not be disgusted. I want to stand up straight and feel like the way that I am is good enough. I want to embrace my ribcage, especially on the days where I cannot see it at all. I want to scream at myself that it is OK. It’s OK to be human. It’s OK to have flaws. I look the way that I look, they look the way that they look and we are all exactly how we are supposed to be. I want to learn to love every part of myself, even if no one else ever can. From my crooked teeth to the softness of my stomach to the tiny marks telling stories all the way down my thighs. I want to love every part of me. I want to learn to look at myself with the same envy and awe I look upon others with. I want to remind myself that what I see reflected back at me is not who I am, it is only who I appear to be. I want to look in the mirror and see my soul. I want to know there is goodness left here. We all have our demons, but I am so sick of always letting mine win. I wish we were not conditioned from such a young age to hate ourselves. I wish instead of constantly being taught how we can improve, we could for once focus on loving what is already there. Why was I taught to hate my body before I could even understand how it functions? Why was I made to believe that beauty could be found only if I was willing to inflict myself with so much pain? Why do any of us even aspire to be perfect? Perfect only exists because we let it. We are taught from a young age what beauty is. We are told to pluck and paint and shrink ourselves into these absolutely unattainable images of what society decides is beautiful in that exact moment. Every time you think you might have finally found it, and every time you feel like you might finally love the person looking back at you in the mirror, beauty changes. Society decides that the image you have been striving toward for so long is no longer “it.” So then the cycle starts again and again and again, and I fear it will never end. We have to stop doing this to ourselves. We have to stop doing this to our future generations. You can only push someone so far before they break, and I think so many people in our world are already so broken. Why can’t we just stop and put them all back together? Why can’t we all just agree on the fact that beauty is everything and nothing all at once. What I find beautiful, you might not, and that does not make either of us wrong. The way you look naturally is never wrong. The way the world treats you is wrong. I wish I could look myself in the eye and get myself to believe that. I wish I could look in the mirror and know that my purpose in this life goes far beyond how appealing my physical appearance is. I want to wake up every day and thank my body for the good it does for me, rather than chastising myself for looking this way. I want the weight of the world off of my shoulders so I can hold my head higher and carry myself the way I am meant to be carried. I want to believe it when someone tells me I am beautiful, just like I want you to believe it whenever I say it to you. It’s funny how much time we spend trying to get our loved ones to love themselves when we cannot even love ourselves. If we could only see ourselves the same way that we see those we love, we could be living in an entirely different world. Your body is not your enemy. Your peers’ bodies are not your enemy. The way you look at yourself so negatively is your true enemy. I want to learn to love the girl in the mirror. My body is not my enemy. My body is my home. My body is not my enemy, but I know I have made it so. My body is not my enemy, and I would give anything to truly believe that.

Becky Curl

Falling In Love When You Have an Eating Disorder

My eating disorder was my first real relationship. I spent my days consumed by it and the hold it had over my life. Night and day, day and night, my anorexia was there by my side. Instead of a warm embrace at night from someone I loved, I felt its grip tighten over my bones while I struggled to find solace in my sleep. I did not love myself, and I feared that my obsession with my outward appearance would forever be the only one by my side. People like to tell you that in order to be loved by someone else, you have to love yourself first. How toxic it is to make someone feel as if they are unworthy of being loved because of their own struggles with their mental health. We all deserve to feel love, even if we can’t quite love ourselves yet. I often could not see my own beauty, but luckily, one day, you did. You were the first person to show true romantic interest in me. I couldn’t believe that love was finally happening for me, after all of these years of feeling so alone. You were patient and kind with me when it came to my eating disorder. You accepted that big fancy dinners and ice cream dates might never be something we could enjoy together. I shared more of my body with you than with anyone I ever had before, and I do not remember ever feeling uncomfortable in your presence. You brought me peace and love, and I thought that maybe I had finally found my person. I am not sure how I ignored the signs so easily, when there were sirens blaring all around me. You broke up with me and not just because you found someone else. You were frustrated with my eating disorder and the fact that you couldn’t take me out for dinner like all of the other girls. You didn’t know what to do with me. I was boring, awkward, and not someone you wanted to spend your free time with anymore. The comfort I found in you was decimated, and again, I was back in the arms of my eating disorder. I struggled for years after you left to jump back into a dating scene that looked like a war zone to someone struggling with an eating disorder. How could I go out for drinks when they had so many calories? How could I go out for dinner and eat in front of a stranger? How could anyone ever want to be with someone as disgusting as me? Every time I thought I met someone, it always fell through. Until one day, I finally met you. You were all in before I even had a chance to show you the darkness I kept so well-hidden. I did not realize it then, but I had finally found someone more toxic to be with than my anorexia. At first, you were supportive, understanding. But soon, my eating disorder began to fuel the fire that would eventually destroy us. I was in love with you, and I like to think that you were in love with me, too. For the most part, you were very patient with me and my need to take things slowly. I have never loved my body, so how could anyone else? The idea of someone seeing you naked is one of the worst things someone struggling with an eating disorder could ever imagine. During one of our most intimate moments, just when I was finally beginning to feel comfortable enough to share myself with you, you saw my body and told me that I was disgusting. Complete and utter devastation. Shame. Those are just the highlights of the way you made me feel that night. How could someone I love so much and who loved me so deeply see me as so repulsive? I know that I will never see my own body for what it really is, but having the person you love tell you that your body is disgusting is enough to fuel your self-doubt forever. It took me a long time after that night to feel comfortable enough to share myself with you again. I wish I could say the next time went any better, but all you did was solidify how much I hated myself and how much I was beginning to hate our relationship. Some days, you told me I was too thin. Others, you told me I needed to start working out. You didn’t like the way my clothing fit me. And you certainly did not want to stay with someone who couldn’t even take care of themselves. Eventually, I left you, but not without emotional scars I fear will never fade. When you love someone, you decide to love them for their good and their bad. And while you may not condone the bad, you certainly should never shame them for it. Shame never saved anyone. Patience, understanding, and support are what those of us struggling truly need. So what is it like being in love when you have an eating disorder? It is like you are drowning and can see the hand trying to pull you back out, but no matter what you do, the current keeps pulling you under. It’s like finding the light only to be cast back into the darkness because the flame didn’t last as long as they said it would. It is like fighting a battle, but forgetting what side you are rooting for because sometimes, everything feels wrong. You never know when love is real, and you never trust anyone to stay. You are afraid for how they will react when they see you for who you really are, so you do your best to hide yourself from them. But sometimes the hiding is what makes them leave in the first place. You start to wonder if love just isn’t in the cards for you. But then you remember that you used to think you would never make it to the other side of your eating disorder. You used to think that recovery would never be for you. We become so used to finding comfort in the toxic because sometimes the toxic choice is the easiest one that we forget that a little bit of fight can yield beautiful results. Loving someone with an eating disorder means loving a person who cannot love themselves. It means supporting a person who sees a different image reflected back at them. But just imagine the strength of that person you are loving. To get through every day hating what you see reflected back at you, but persevering because you know there has to be something better than how things are right now. That is true strength. And love needs a strong foundation to blossom and thrive. Being in love when you have an eating disorder makes a challenging aspect of your life come center stage. But love is also the way out of your pain. So please, fall in love. Feel loved. And don’t be afraid when the first few don’t work out. Because if your eating disorder has taught you anything, you know that you are stronger than you ever thought possible. Don’t let it or anyone else’s toxic love convince you otherwise.

Becky Curl

Falling In Love When You Have an Eating Disorder

My eating disorder was my first real relationship. I spent my days consumed by it and the hold it had over my life. Night and day, day and night, my anorexia was there by my side. Instead of a warm embrace at night from someone I loved, I felt its grip tighten over my bones while I struggled to find solace in my sleep. I did not love myself, and I feared that my obsession with my outward appearance would forever be the only one by my side. People like to tell you that in order to be loved by someone else, you have to love yourself first. How toxic it is to make someone feel as if they are unworthy of being loved because of their own struggles with their mental health. We all deserve to feel love, even if we can’t quite love ourselves yet. I often could not see my own beauty, but luckily, one day, you did. You were the first person to show true romantic interest in me. I couldn’t believe that love was finally happening for me, after all of these years of feeling so alone. You were patient and kind with me when it came to my eating disorder. You accepted that big fancy dinners and ice cream dates might never be something we could enjoy together. I shared more of my body with you than with anyone I ever had before, and I do not remember ever feeling uncomfortable in your presence. You brought me peace and love, and I thought that maybe I had finally found my person. I am not sure how I ignored the signs so easily, when there were sirens blaring all around me. You broke up with me and not just because you found someone else. You were frustrated with my eating disorder and the fact that you couldn’t take me out for dinner like all of the other girls. You didn’t know what to do with me. I was boring, awkward, and not someone you wanted to spend your free time with anymore. The comfort I found in you was decimated, and again, I was back in the arms of my eating disorder. I struggled for years after you left to jump back into a dating scene that looked like a war zone to someone struggling with an eating disorder. How could I go out for drinks when they had so many calories? How could I go out for dinner and eat in front of a stranger? How could anyone ever want to be with someone as disgusting as me? Every time I thought I met someone, it always fell through. Until one day, I finally met you. You were all in before I even had a chance to show you the darkness I kept so well-hidden. I did not realize it then, but I had finally found someone more toxic to be with than my anorexia. At first, you were supportive, understanding. But soon, my eating disorder began to fuel the fire that would eventually destroy us. I was in love with you, and I like to think that you were in love with me, too. For the most part, you were very patient with me and my need to take things slowly. I have never loved my body, so how could anyone else? The idea of someone seeing you naked is one of the worst things someone struggling with an eating disorder could ever imagine. During one of our most intimate moments, just when I was finally beginning to feel comfortable enough to share myself with you, you saw my body and told me that I was disgusting. Complete and utter devastation. Shame. Those are just the highlights of the way you made me feel that night. How could someone I love so much and who loved me so deeply see me as so repulsive? I know that I will never see my own body for what it really is, but having the person you love tell you that your body is disgusting is enough to fuel your self-doubt forever. It took me a long time after that night to feel comfortable enough to share myself with you again. I wish I could say the next time went any better, but all you did was solidify how much I hated myself and how much I was beginning to hate our relationship. Some days, you told me I was too thin. Others, you told me I needed to start working out. You didn’t like the way my clothing fit me. And you certainly did not want to stay with someone who couldn’t even take care of themselves. Eventually, I left you, but not without emotional scars I fear will never fade. When you love someone, you decide to love them for their good and their bad. And while you may not condone the bad, you certainly should never shame them for it. Shame never saved anyone. Patience, understanding, and support are what those of us struggling truly need. So what is it like being in love when you have an eating disorder? It is like you are drowning and can see the hand trying to pull you back out, but no matter what you do, the current keeps pulling you under. It’s like finding the light only to be cast back into the darkness because the flame didn’t last as long as they said it would. It is like fighting a battle, but forgetting what side you are rooting for because sometimes, everything feels wrong. You never know when love is real, and you never trust anyone to stay. You are afraid for how they will react when they see you for who you really are, so you do your best to hide yourself from them. But sometimes the hiding is what makes them leave in the first place. You start to wonder if love just isn’t in the cards for you. But then you remember that you used to think you would never make it to the other side of your eating disorder. You used to think that recovery would never be for you. We become so used to finding comfort in the toxic because sometimes the toxic choice is the easiest one that we forget that a little bit of fight can yield beautiful results. Loving someone with an eating disorder means loving a person who cannot love themselves. It means supporting a person who sees a different image reflected back at them. But just imagine the strength of that person you are loving. To get through every day hating what you see reflected back at you, but persevering because you know there has to be something better than how things are right now. That is true strength. And love needs a strong foundation to blossom and thrive. Being in love when you have an eating disorder makes a challenging aspect of your life come center stage. But love is also the way out of your pain. So please, fall in love. Feel loved. And don’t be afraid when the first few don’t work out. Because if your eating disorder has taught you anything, you know that you are stronger than you ever thought possible. Don’t let it or anyone else’s toxic love convince you otherwise.

Community Voices

This Is Why I Don’t Like Drinking: An Open Letter

In life, there are so few things we actually have control over. For a perfectionist like me, this fact is often devastating. I want so badly to have each and every day go according to plan, but I have learned time and time again that this is not how the world works. This is why I am so adamant about being able to control the parts of my life that I actually have a choice in.

One of these choices I made at a fairly young age was to mostly avoid alcohol and being in situations where drinking is the center of attention and the main amusement for the night. I realize that most people do not choose to live their lives this way unless something has forced them to, and I am not here to judge anyone who does enjoy drinking. I just wish that people would allow me the same open-minded way of thinking.You would think that choosing to only be an occasional drinker would be nothing that others would concern themselves with, but I have found time and time again that I keep having to explain myself and the choices that I have made. Depending on who it is that I am talking to, I may or may not go into full detail as to why I rarely drink; I am beginning to wonder if my vague explanations are the reason why I have been feeling such harsh judgement from others about the way I have chosen to live my life. These days, I am trying so hard to be as transparent as possible with everyone I am close to in my life, and this is why I felt the need to express this to all of you.From a young age, I have always felt a lot of fear. I always joke that I have been anxious since the age of four, but honestly, it’s not a joke; I remember what was probably my first #Anxiety attack at that age when I realized I would have to start going to school and that my daily routine would change. Change has always terrified me, hence why I try so hard to have so much control over every aspect of my life, even when I know I am taking on an impossible task in doing so. One thing I discovered as I got older that had the capacity to drastically change people was alcohol. I have distinct memories from when I was younger of being so frightened after seeing people acting so strangely under the influence of alcohol, and those moments have never left me.Growing up, I watched friends deal with the horrific effects alcohol could have on a family, as their loved ones died and others faded away from who they truly were. As the years went on, I watched as other friends died from drug overdoses or drunk driving, all the while wondering how many more people I would have to watch go through this before we all finally woke the fuck up and realized what we were all doing.Fast forward to college when casual drinking became the only way anyone knew how to let loose and have fun. I attended a total of three parties the entirety of my four-year college career, and those three times were all it took for me to realize that this was not the life I wanted to live. I watched a person set their arm on fire after taking a flaming shot and noticed how everyone just thought it was funny, rather than recognizing the serious danger everyone could have been in. I got pressured into going to an annual party where the goal is to get the underage freshman as drunk as possible and ended up leaving before the party really even started. I have gotten stuck in a basement taking care of some of the drunkest friends I will ever have, waiting for the cops to leave and hoping nobody got caught. All of these memories are from three separate occasions; I cannot help but wonder how much darker my memories would be if I had attended any more. I just want to know at what point all of that becomes fun. I don’t remember having any fun, I just remember being scared. I was always so scared.Even after going through all of these negative experiences involving excessive drinking, I somehow found myself in a serious relationship with an alcoholic. I believe that a lot of my issues with drinking were made worse from this relationship, but I do need everyone to understand that my feelings on alcohol are not a recent development. They have been brewing in me for years, and I think this relationship was what truly made me wake up and realize that I cannot change someone who does not want to change, even if they themselves are aware that what they are doing to themselves is hurting them. When we first met, he had recently stopped drinking. The person I went on my first date with was not the same person who showed up buzzed at my apartment after making their own alcohol, thinking that I wouldn’t be able to smell it on him. I could. The person who I talked with for five hours the first time we hung out is the not the same person who told me I was a burden, a buzzkill, and a lying slut. Alcohol has the power to change the most vulnerable ones among us, and in my personal experiences, these changes have not been good. I can pinpoint the exact moment when everything changed between us and that moment was when he started drinking again. You would think that someone who got put on probation at school for punching their best friend when they were drunk would realize that drinking is nothing but toxic for them, but unfortunately, addictions have a horrible way of telling you that you are the reason you do bad things, when it is the #Addiction fueling you the entire time.The most that I ever really drank was when I was with him, and there was a never a time that we did that I actually wanted to. I never finished my drinks, so naturally, he would. I only drank because he wanted me to, and all I ever wanted was for him to love me. He would admit to me that he wanted me to get drunk so that I would be more intimate with him, so that I would relax. I am so, so glad I never gave in to that. He would tell me I was a buzzkill because I wouldn’t get drunk with him; he could not understand why I did not just want to drink and let go like he did. Eventually, I would learn that he would never be able to understand me.He broke up with me multiple times when he was drunk, and later on I would learn that he did not even remember that he had done so until the next day when he realized I had blocked him. I have been broken up with over Facebook messenger while he was drunk at a club at 4am in another country because I was becoming too much of a burden to him. I have been broken up with because a door slammed in my apartment, and he was too drunk to realize it wasn’t another guy leaving my apartment, it was just my roommate coming home. It got to the point where anything I said to him was almost always the wrong thing to say, and I never quite knew when would be the day he would break up with me all over again. He would ignore me for days, even when we were in the same city, in the same apartment building even. He loved to travel, and this is truly when a lot of his drinking really started to get to me. I would see him out living his life, drinking with girls in strange countries, all while I sat at home and wondered if he had found one to replace me yet. I was always just sitting around waiting for him.Once this relationship finally ended after almost three years of constant ups and downs, I was more damaged than ever before. The emotional abuse I endured because of someone else’s alcoholism is something I think will stay with me forever. I am slowly starting to heal from all of the pain caused by that relationship, but it is by no means a process that will be completed overnight. All of my close friends know that I went through this and that is why I am always so shocked by their reactions to me not wanting to go out and get drunk with them or be around them when they are planning to drink.Alcohol really scares me. A lot. I know that might sound dumb or childish to some people, but it is the truth, and that is why I avoid it. I have never been drunk, and I don’t know how I would be if I ever was drunk, and I honestly do not ever want to find that out. I do not like being sick, and I don’t know why I would ever intentionally make myself feel that way when it can all be avoided. I am afraid of being around people who drink excessively because I always assume they will get mad at me, and so far, a lot of people have proven me right in that respect. It is not that I won’t go out for a casual drink or that I have never been a little tipsy before because I have been. I can go on a date to a bar or drink every now and then, but more often than not, I am perfectly fine being sober. I can sit at a bar and not drink and be perfectly happy, yet it seems that not everyone else can handle that. I have felt so much judgement from others from simply being at a bar while they drank, and I didn’t that I have just gotten to the point that I now generally avoid going out at all. Why would I even put myself in that situation when you have proven to me that you will never take the time to see it from my perspective?I am not even thirty years old, and the amount of people I now know who are my age and have already had to declare themselves sober because of their excessive drinking and drug use is truly terrifying. We aren’t even thirty you guys, how could it already be this bad? I have had friends admit that they know they will be alcoholics because a parent was and other friends who don’t care to even try to get better. I just wish that you cared about your lives as much as I care about all of you because we are all way too young to be so broken already. I know life is so difficult, and drinking is an easy way to cope, but what are you going to do when your coping mechanism turns into your suffering? There has to be a better way. I just want you to all understand why I have always desperately been searching for another way to ease my pain.I think this is one fear I am okay with never conquering.

Community Voices

For the Days When You Can’t Look in the Mirror

There are going to be days when you can’t even stand the sight of yourself in the mirror. Every time you catch your reflection, you will only feel disgusted. You put so much effort into your appearance only to be met with an image looking back at you that you cannot recognize. You will wonder why anyone would ever be attracted to you and would choose to be with you when this is what they would be choosing.These are not the days that will define your life.

Living in a society where so much pressure is put on everyone to fulfill outlandishly unrealistic beauty standards can become so exhausting. No matter how much weight you lose or times you dye your hair and change your lipstick, you are still told that you are not beautiful. I don’t know why the word beautiful has to be synonymous with the word perfect because some of the most beautiful things in nature happen to also be some of the most unique.

If we are told time and time again that we must look a certain way or we will never be attractive, it becomes almost impossible to silence that voice within. It becomes deafening.You want to be attractive enough to get attention, but not bold enough to stand out. You need to say all of the right things, but you can’t have too much of an opinion if you still want people to like you. It is like our society is trying to mold us into one-dimensional paper dolls without realizing the value of all of our many facets and curves.

We have to do better.
We have to teach ourselves and our children that our value goes so much deeper than what anyone can see on the outside. We need to learn to accept that not everyone fits into the cookie-cutter world we have been conditioned to want to live in and that those of us who choose to be unique still deserve a place among the beautiful.We are all so beautiful.It doesn’t matter if you aren’t a size zero and blonde or if your smile is made up of crooked teeth. Who you are is not defined by who you appear to be. Your crooked teeth have character, and your body is strong and healthy and ready to get you through the difficult challenges we all face every day. We should all be allowed to feel comfortable in our own skin without feeling guilty about it. There shouldn’t even be a question of whether or not you look nice today when you look in the mirror; we should always know that we do.

It has become so easy to convince ourselves that we are not worthy of love until we are able to fulfill all of the ridiculous beauty ideals society has burdened us with. No one should feel like they have to diet the week leading up to a date so that their date will be more attracted to them. No one should have to start dressing in ways that make them uncomfortable in order to finally be paid attention to. No one should have to deal with any of this.Our world has taught us that outer beauty will lead to happiness. While I do think that “looking good” can help you feel good, I don’t believe that the secret to living a fulfilling life lies in our dress size. Your body is just a body; it is not your mind or your spirit or your soul.

When was the last time you really looked at a person and saw them for all of the magic they have been holding within?
I think we all need to start believing in the power of our own magic and with that, we will finally see the true depth of our beauty.

Community Voices

This Is For You On Your Worst Days

I know it seems like things will never get better. And I know that you feel like you are stuck in your current situation. Life has seemed like more of a battle than a blessing lately, and every time you finally seem to make a breakthrough, life only seems to knock you back down. These are the days that can either destroy or define you, and it is up to you to decide which path you take.

I hope you don’t let it destroy you.
I hope you get back up every time the world expects you to just give up and stay stationary. I hope you never feel like you won’t get any further than you are right now because you have no idea how much more you will grow in just a few short years. You will meet people whose impact will stay with you for years, and though some of these memories will be negative, you will learn how to transform that negativity into exactly the motivation you need to move forward. You will learn what love really is and exactly what it is not. You will finally understand the value of being alone and all of the joy that only you can bring to yourself. You will learn to start living for yourself.None of this will be easy, and I don’t think change will ever become easy for you or for anyone. The more things change, the more unpredictable life becomes and with that unpredictability comes the fear of the unknown. You have always been so afraid, but eventually, you will learn to not only tell yourself to be brave but to truly live that way. You will have your moments where your fear may get the best of you, but the older you get, the more resilient you will become. You will begin to understand the power of your own mind and your ability to either make a bad day better or worse. And one day I hope you will always choose to make it better.

Things are definitely going to get better. It is all in how you perceive what is happening around you.
You can either let your circumstances consume you, or you can use them as motivation to get yourself to where you truly want to be. Your career, your money, your love life, all of these things are ever-changing and therefore, you must learn to live with the fact that life will not and cannot stay the same. If everything around you is changing, you have to learn to adapt along with it or else you may find yourself crumbling under the weight of all of the things you cannot control.You are going to meet so many different people throughout your life. Some of these people are meant to stick around for a while and others are just here for a moment; regardless of how long you get to spend with someone, know that their impact on your life is not determined by the amount of time you knew them. You can spend years with a person and never truly know them and minutes with others who seem like home. Learning how to let go is one of life’s biggest challenges, but the more you encounter these types of situations, the more you will truly understand the value of the phrase, “If you love someone, let them go.”Love comes in so many different forms. You will find romantic love, and you will lose it. You will think time and time again that this time will be the time that everyone always talks about only to realize you are just not at that time yet. It’s okay. With each new person you meet and you lose, you will learn exactly what you want out of a relationship, and one day, I am confident that you will meet someone beyond your wildest expectations. You have already met some truly remarkable people, and if it hasn’t been any of them, just imagine who it is you have waiting for you. They are waiting for you, too.You will form so many new friendships, and your heart will grow with the realization of how many more people like you there are out there. With these beautiful new relationships forming, you will also experience what it is like to lose those who you thought would always be by your side. We are not the same people we were when we were 18. Life changes, and so do we, and none of us should shame each other if that growth pulls us in different directions. We are not all meant to be the same people, and we have to learn to accept that. Sometimes these “break-ups” will hurt worse than romantic ones because so often we forget that our friendships need as much work as our romantic relationships. Sometimes you will be able to repair these ties, and other times, you will learn that often the best thing two people can do for each other is to simply just move on. Moving on doesn’t have to be ugly; it is just the acceptance of the fact that not everything we love is meant to last forever.

Today may not be your best day, and tomorrow might not be either, but I promise you that one day, you will wake up and realize this is the beginning of everything you have ever wanted.
Please don’t give up on your dreams and the life you always wanted for one that feels comfortable or seems like what you deserve. You do not deserve the horrible things that you think you do, and I hope one day you can truly believe that. It is up to you whether you want to move forward or stand still; but know that if you choose to stay exactly where you are, you will never know how far you could have gone.It is always worth the risk of failure to work towards all that you have ever wanted. You never know what tomorrow could bring, so please don’t close yourself off to the future. The difficult days can be crippling, but the beautiful days are worth more than you could ever imagine. I promise you that.

Becky Curl

Habits People Might Have in Eating Disorder Recovery

Eating disorders have plagued my life for as long as I can remember. I am finally in a place where I can call my recovery home, rather than my anorexia nervosa. However, I think a common misconception about those who are in recovery is that they have been “fixed.” We look at someone who has a problem, they take steps to solve that problem, now they are recovering and that is when we like to move on and assume they are now fine. We are in recovery; we are not just “fine.” Every day is an uphill battle to try to stay afloat. One wrong move or thought, and we could easily sink back into despair. Throughout my recovery, I have found I have developed a number of habits and personality “quirks” that others who are not struggling the same plight cannot always understand. You cannot just go to bed one night deciding life is going to change and wake up the next day miraculously cured. Change takes time. Recovery takes persistence. And sometimes, we do things others do not understand because it is the only way we know how to move forward. This is the only way we know how to survive. Here are six habits people don’t realize you have because you’re recovering from an eating disorder: 1. Eating the same foods every day. One of the most difficult parts of recovering from an eating disorder is reintroducing foods back into your regular, healthy diet. We have spent so much time telling ourselves that so many foods are “bad” and to be avoided, so the idea of suddenly having to eat all of those foods again can cause a lot of stress. In my personal recovery, I have found eating consistent foods at consistent times helps me ensure I am actually eating. I know what to expect at each meal, and I know how these foods make me feel. I have been able to successfully reintroduce them into my diet without feeling a sense of panic each and every time I eat them. The shame of someone constantly questioning what you are eating today when they already know the answer is enough to make me want to skip that meal altogether. Eating causes those of us in recovery enough anxiety already, and the last thing we need is for anyone to condemn us for our meal choices. What you might find odd has become our only way to get back on track, and we just need you to understand that the fact we are eating anything at all is huge. There will come a day when new foods are not so scary to us, but please do not chastise us if today is not that day. 2. Only eating meals around those you know well. When you have conditioned yourself into believing food is the enemy, you can trigger yourself to feel a lot of shame whenever you do choose to eat. Going from avoiding eating at all costs to trying to accept food back into your life at all times can be extremely scary to those recovering from eating disorders . Even though I now know that no one around me is as tuned into what is on my plate as my brain has made me believe, I cannot help but be paranoid when eating around new acquaintances. Taking lunch breaks at work has always brought me severe anxiety, as I strongly fear anyone making any commentary over what I may or may not be eating. To me, eating is not a comfortable event; it is still something I am learning to accept as a necessary part of my life. By adding that discomfort into a room full of people I am unfamiliar with, you are basically creating a recipe for disaster. I have found I am more likely to eat at home before or after a social event so I can avoid the judgment of those around me. If someone you know is recovering from an eating disorder, please be sensitive to their food anxieties and offer to eat somewhere more private rather than at a bustling, public place. We know we need to eat, but sometimes our anxiety triumphs over what we know is right for us. 3. Avoiding the dating scene. My eating disorder has caused serious issues in my past relationships. I have been broken up with for being anorexic and not wanting to go out to dinner. I have been told I will be left if I do not start taking better care of myself. I have been called disgusting by someone I was in love with for losing too much weight. In a way, my anorexia was always my partner. Anorexia was there for me when a lot of others were not. Anorexia was truly my first abusive relationship. Now that I have separated myself from it, I am desperate to know what it feels like to love someone who is good to you. I want to know what true love feels like, rather than constantly feeling like I will never be good enough to deserve love at all. However, the emotional trauma I have endured due to my eating disorder hangs heavily over me at all times and has made acclimating back into regular life extremely difficult. I want to go on dates and be carefree, but the idea of going out for dinner with strangers is immobilizing for me. The thought of having to eat a meal in front of someone who does not know the demons I will forever be fighting off is so, so scary. All I can think about is how they must be so disgusted by me, by how I look while I eat, and how they must be judging me for the food choices I have made. My mind can conjure up an endless stream of worries that often causes me to avoid going out to meet someone new. I have had dates get upset with me for not wanting to eat in front of them, for not ordering food or for not drinking my drink at a restaurant. Please keep in mind that not everyone’s brains work the same way and that for some of us, the mundane aspects of life are actually the most terrifying. It isn’t that we do not want to meet you; it’s that our mental illness is trying to tell us we shouldn’t. 4. Repeatedly canceling plans. Some days, I wake up and I am so disgusted by my body, and by myself, that I can barely get out of bed. Fat is not a feeling, but when you have been under the control of an eating disorder for 15 years, it can be hard to convince yourself otherwise. Sometimes, I have great outfits planned out ahead of time for a social event, and then the day arrives and all I see in the mirror is someone who is too disgusting to even think about going out. I have literally felt I needed to keep myself away from others so they would not have to be subjected to my appearance. Now that I am in recovery, these days are becoming fewer and fewer, but I still have my moments where all I can think about is going home and crawling into bed until the feeling passes. It is not that we do not want to go out with you, because we do. We so desperately want to go out and laugh and dance and not even think twice about how many calories are in our drink or if our stomachs are poking out just a little too much in our dresses. Unfortunately, our mental illness does not always agree with what our heart desires. Please know we are trying to come back to the world. We are trying to be the bright, shining stars our hearts can see but our minds cannot. We still just have our days where staying in is what is best for us, and we can only hope you can understand our needs and will be there waiting for us on the other side of this pain. 5. Wearing ill-fitting clothing. Someone living with an eating disorder is not seeing a true version of themselves whenever they look into the mirror. Even though I have been in a state of recovery for almost 10 years, I still know I will never see myself for who I really am. I will never know the truth of what my body looks like. I will never know if the fat I see and feel is real; I will never truly know myself. I have been able to train myself now to do my best to ignore what I see reflected back at me, but I still have my moments when the mirror wins. Every day, I feel fat. I see myself as fat, and I see that as a bad thing for me personally. I do my best to dress in clothing that fits the body I know I have but cannot actually see, but still, I find myself buying things that are often a little too loose for me. I am still afraid to show off my body even though I know now that I am healthy and strong. I cannot bring myself to wear most jeans, pants and shorts because I cannot stand the way they hug every part of me — parts I still wish I could erase. Trust me — we know our clothes may be a little too big for us; we know we may look a little frumpy. But what you need to know is that just getting out of bed and putting on those clothes was a huge triumph for us. Just being able to go outside on any given day and not hide from the world is the equivalent to us winning the lottery. The more distance we put between ourselves and our eating disorders, the more we will be able to learn to accept ourselves. Please just know this acceptance cannot and will not happen overnight. All we need is time. 6. Having food rituals. Another reason I hate eating in public is my fear of the judgment of others for my eating habits. As someone who spent almost half their life strictly regulating their every bite, it really should not come as a surprise that the way in which I eat may be a little bit unique. Back when I was in the worst of my anorexia, I would do whatever I could to eat as little of my meal as possible without anyone catching on to what I was actually doing. Now that I am doing my best to add healthy eating habits back into my diet, I have found some of the food rituals I developed as an anorexic still make an appearance in my daily life. I still like to organize and section off my food as I eat it. Rarely will I eat a burger as one solid unit; I still find myself separating the bun from the patty and so on and so forth. What is different now, however, is that I actually eat all of the food on my plate instead of just pretending to. I am lucky enough to eat most of my meals around my family and those who understand my situation, but I know this will not always be the case. If you know someone who is working to recover from an eating disorder, please be patient with them as they slowly begin to learn how to view food as a necessity instead of the enemy. I hope that one day, I can sit down to enjoy a meal without dissecting everything I am eating, but right now I need to celebrate the fact I am actually eating. Please don’t lose sight of how far we have come. A version of this article was previously published on Thought Catalog.

Becky Curl

When You Think Your Body Is 'Disgusting'

I think my body is disgusting. I don’t have just “off days” here and there. No, this is a deep-rooted hatred that comes from my core. I am not sure of the exact day it started or when I noticed it. One day, I just got curious about what it would be like to be someone else and I haven’t stopped searching for the answer since. I made the mistake of looking at my thighs the other day. Where I wished that all I could see was smooth soft skin, I was met with dozens of scars and dimples reminding me that no matter how hard I try to fight it, I am human. I have my moments where I can appreciate my stretch marks; sometimes, I like looking in the mirror and being reminded of the beauty in the imperfections I carry. But other times, I only see them as reminders of my inability to control another aspect of my life. When you think your body is disgusting, there is only so much you can do to quiet your mind. When I have to get dressed everyday, it’s like going through a war zone. I never quite know how I will feel or what is lurking just out of sight. There are days when I look in the mirror and I feel remarkable. Just the same, there are days when I cannot even look at myself. Those are the days that are the most difficult to get through. In a world where we are constantly surrounded by mirrors and bombarded with images of anyone who is seemingly better looking than ourselves, it can be difficult to even leave the house. How can you possibly go outside when the sight of yourself is so sickening? Through my experience with poor body image and eating disorders, I have come to understand that I cannot always trust the image I see reflected back at me in the mirror. Our minds can do a great job of showing us things in the worst possible light. But lately, I have been wondering if this is just the excuse I have been telling myself to cope with the fact that my body is changing. I’m getting older. Now, at the age of 26, I am sure most people would think that was a ridiculous statement to utter. But it’s true; I am not 21 anymore. I do not have the metabolism I used to and I have developed curves in places I didn’t have them before. It is so difficult to be at peace with this fact. It’s so easy for me to accept others as they are and to see their beauty, yet when it comes to myself, I have found that I cannot be anywhere near as kind and understanding. I will stop at nothing to make sure others feel whole, confident and beautiful, but I would give anything to be the perfect image I tell them they don’t need to aspire to. Call it hypocritical or just plain sad, but I don’t know if I will ever be able to give my body the respect I know it deserves. It is like no matter what I do, I will never be satisfied. Tell me, how would you get through your day when one of your favorite things lets you down? That’s my current situation. I was once with someone who made me feel comfortable in my own skin. He was the only person who praised me for the curves I was always conditioned to hate. It was like he knew exactly which parts of my body I hated the most and picked those to love. But then he left. And when he left, so did the confidence I had slowly started to regain in the changing body I call my home. I know you aren’t supposed to base your self-worth on the opinions of others, but having someone you genuinely care about love you for exactly the way you are is absolutely everything. I hope one day I can find this again. And I hope you do, too. I think my body is disgusting, but I will never stop trying to love it.

Becky Curl

Why We Need to Take the Word 'Beautiful' Back

I can’t recall the first time I was told I was beautiful, but I remember it enough to know that this ideal of “beauty” has followed me almost my entire life. From a young age, girls are often praised for their looks and paraded around like little dolls for all to admire. We get new dresses and bows and pose for countless photos as the flashes pop before our eyes, forever capturing ourselves solely at face value. “ What a sweet little girl, ” and “ Smile for me, Sweetie, ” are words that are often thrown at girls from their very beginnings; but eventually, these so-called endearing terms can turn sour and can leave us feeling unsettled and under attack. At what age will I finally stop being a stranger’s sweetheart? With so much value being inherently placed on a woman’s outward appearance, it is no wonder that so many of us grow up wondering if we will ever be enough. One day we could be told we should be stick thin, then the second we achieve that, we are told that curves are back “in.” I think part of being a woman in our society is constantly being told by the media who we are supposed to be in order to be well-liked and successful. After all, no one likes an ugly girl, right? We often spend sickening amounts of time trying to shove ourselves into the tiny box the rest of the world has deemed “beautiful,” when we were probably never meant to be there. And in reality, most of us will never truly “be there” or achieve the standards thrust upon us by society. I do not know who decided that it was OK to belittle women because they do not fit into one narrow view of what is supposedly “attractive,” but I do know that we need to snap out of that fairytale world and realize what it is we are truly doing to ourselves. This needs to end. All my life I struggled to feel like I was pretty enough — enough to be accepted by most people and left alone by the harshest ones among us. But I didn’t want to be too pretty because people might chastise me for that, too. There is this delicate balance of being liked enough to fit in, but not enough to stand out, because apparently, beauty like that can also cause problems. Every day we are bombarded with mixed messages of who we are supposed to be, and every day it can get more difficult for women (and men alike) to sift through the deluge of self-deprecating thoughts to try and recover some sense of purpose in their lives. Do we even have a purpose if we aren’t beautiful? According to the world we live in, apparently not. I think we need to take the word beauty back. It is not wrong to appreciate beauty; beauty is not inherently bad. It is when we twist a word meant to express fondness and joy into one that cuts and wounds so deeply that we begin to destroy something that was never meant to destroy us. People are beautiful for so many reasons outside of their physical appearances. I truly believe that everyone does view beauty differently, and I do not believe that is wrong. What is wrong, however, is to criticize someone for not fitting into your definition of beauty. What I see as “beautiful” might not be the same as what you recognize as “beautiful,” and I have no place demeaning you because our minds interpret the world around us differently. That fact itself is beautiful. There are so many unique perspectives in our world and I wish we could begin to celebrate them instead of trying to cast them aside. Beauty does not have to be something we fear; we should celebrate it and recognize that all of us have so much unique beauty to give this world, if only we are given the chance to share. I can remember many times I was told I was not beautiful. Often, I think our minds can recall those negative comments much more easily than when we were praised for our beauty. It has taken me many years to get over some of the harsh words that were used to describe my appearance growing up, and I wish my younger self was less affected by those words — after all, they are just words. Yet what so many people might not realize is that words really can do more damage than anyone might think is possible. Once someone demeans you, it can be hard not to look in the mirror and hear those words over and over again. It is as if they are written across your forehead and down your arms, exposing your flaws for the entire world to see. As I have gotten older, it has been a little easier for me to recognize that other people’s perspectives of me are not the way I must define myself. But every once in awhile, the wrong person will say the right thing and the self-doubt comes creeping back up, longing to be back in the forefront of my mind. This is not OK. A woman’s existence should not be consumed or defined by what other people think of her beauty. No one should ever wonder if they would have gotten the job if they were more attractive, or if I would have accepted his flirtations, I would have gotten the raise I worked so hard for. I think it is so sad that women are still fighting for the basic right to be viewed as legitimate, hard-working people, but this is also the world we have built for ourselves. And we are the ones who can take it back. So start having these difficult talks about how we got here and how we can fix it. And the next time someone tries to tell you that you aren’t beautiful, remember that you have so much more to give the world than a nice dress and a plastic smile. Your unique perspective is what is going to save us all and rebuild what it means to be beautiful. This piece was originally published on Thought Catalog. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Getty image via Archv

Becky Curl

When Your Eating Disorder Makes Your Body Feel Like a Prison

They often say that in order to find true love, you must fall in love with yourself first. They make it seem as if those of us who feel like damaged goods are undeserving of another’s affection until we can pull ourselves out of the hole we’ve fallen into. What no one tells you is how to fall in love with a self you don’t identify with. To them, you might appear one way, when inside you are fighting a battle that you fear you’ll never win. What do you do when your body is a prison and your bones have thrown away the key? For as long as I can remember, I have never been satisfied with the image reflected back at me in the mirror. Too fat. Too pale. Teeth too crooked. Breasts too small. Eyes too big. Face too ugly. I am older now and able to understand that the image my mind conjures up is not 100 percent authentic; those shapes, shadows and lines are all the distorted product of the mind I was born with. However, understanding can only go so far to quiet the insecurities of the mind, making each glance in the mirror a dance with a shape-shifting reality. I vividly remember the day when I looked into a mirror at my childhood friend’s home and decided that I had to pick at least one feature to like of all the ones my brain told me to hate. I remember deciding that even though I felt they were too big, my eyes were pretty and that I would stick with that trait as being my best one. The heartbreak I feel whenever I see another young girl scrutinizing herself in the mirror is agonizing. I want to shake her out of the nightmare world she’s ensnared within and tell her to wake up and see things how they really are. I want to smash the mirror with her, until the tiny pieces form a beautiful mosaic of jumbled colors and shapes, each unique and wonderful because of its differences. I think the world we live in today does an excellent job of telling us everything that is wrong with us, while seldom recognizing us for our achievements. Often the first thing someone compliments us on is appearance based. Your smile. Your eyes. Your hair. Your body. Your firm handshake. Don’t they realize that behind all of those tangible pieces of ourselves is the mastermind behind it all? Without our mind, our beautiful smiles wouldn’t know when to smile. Our eyes wouldn’t sparkle with love and admiration. And our bodies wouldn’t serve us in all the ways we dream about. Your body is important, there is no doubt about the value of this space we inhabit, but please know that your body is there to house your beautiful soul. A soul so many people are dying to meet. I was 18 when I finally started treating my soul with the respect it deserved. I had spent so many years focusing on perfecting my body that I had forgotten about the soul that was starving, too. I cannot change the thoughts flowing through your mind, but what I can do is share mine with you and hope that you find a common thread, linking us together in this vast community of people trapped inside a place which does not always serve them. I am not the fat on my stomach. Or the stretch marks on my thighs. I am not my crooked teeth or less than spectacular curves. I am a soul waiting to take flight, to break through the barriers of who we are told we are supposed to be. You are the only one who can decide you are beautiful. It is up to you to then share your beauty with the world. Whatever you do, do not tell yourself you are trapped in the image you see reflected back at you. Your body is only a prison when you perceive it to be. You are so much more than the skin and bones you aspire to be, so be free. And let your soul stretch to its fullest potential, regardless of the marks it may leave behind. For every mark, scar and roll on your body, a story is waiting to be told. You are not your eating disorder. And your body does not have to be your prison. This piece was originally published on Thought Catalog. Follow this journey here. If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237 . We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Getty image via MarinaZg