If you had to write a letter to ‘your younger self’ what would you say? I was asked this question and it really got me thinking. This is such a valuable thing to do.
My letter to my younger self:
Hey there little one,
You probably don’t recognise me now. You won’t recognise me for the happy, healthy person that you see before you. I write you this letter looking back at the quiet shy little girl who was hiding in her own shadow. I just want to take you in my arms and reassure you that you will get through this. You will get through this and come out of the other side a better person.
Things were difficult for you, I can see that now. I can see how you were struggling with so many things, so many thoughts going around in that little mind of yours. You were carrying the world on your shoulders and no one could see your struggle. No one could see the pain in your eyes, the regret in your heart and the damage that was done. No one could see that you were about to hit the self-destruct button.
Looking back I can see the torture you were going through. I understand why you did what you did, I understand where your eating disorder came from and I know you always asked yourself ‘why me’ ‘why is this happening to me’ but I’m afraid that bad things happen to good people. You were a good person, and I’m telling you this now because I know you never believe that. Somehow you thought you deserved this, for not speaking out and getting the help that you so needed and deserved.
I’m sorry for what you went through, I’m sorry for how I treated you. You should never have gone through this alone.
You have been on quite a journey- a journey that however hard has taught you so much. A journey that will continue to teach you and show you who you truly are.
When you get to uni try and enjoy it- it’s meant to be the best years of your life. I want you to find the work life balance. You can never have too many friends. These people that you will be spending all of your time with will be friends for life, you are going to need to keep them close, you will need them one day. Go out with them, socialise, get drunk and spend your Saturday’s hungover and eating pizza on the sofa. Whatever you do do not isolate yourself, don’t put too much pressure on yourself and work 24/7. You can only do your best, and your best is more than good enough. Uni should be the best years of your life, make memories that you can look back on and smile.
When your struggling remember it is ok to ask for help. You are going to need help along the way and that’s ok. You need to be open and honest with those who care about you and any professionals that want to help you. Don’t resist help. When treatment is offered to you I want you to promise me that you will take it- jump at the opportunity and don’t let go. You are going to need treatment to get better and the sooner you get it the easier your life will be. The sooner you start down your road to recovery the more of your life you will have to live. You will soon realise just how precious your life is, don’t waste it punishing yourself. Don’t waste it punishing yourself for something that isn’t your fault. Take the help and start to work through recovery. Your uni course can wait- there is no pressure to finish your degree, your health comes first.
Forgiveness, this is something that you find difficult but you need to forgive yourself, no one blames you for this. You just experienced something no-one should ever have to and as a child you were given too much responsibility. You had to grow up long before your time but that isn’t your fault and wasn’t your choice. I know you blame yourself for keeping it all in, suppressing your feelings and trying to protect everyone around you but that wasn’t your job then and it isn’t now. You were the child, you are the teenager and you are not responsible for other people. They can and will look after themselves. I know you have done all you can to protect them but you are destroying yourself in the process. Forgive yourself for not getting the help when you needed it and stop blaming yourself. Stop feeling guilty.
You struggle to express your emotions but I want you to remember that it’s healthy and normal to be angry. Feeling anger does not make you a bad person, people wont judge you. It’s important to express anger when you feel it, you have been bottling up your emotions and deep down in the mix you do feel a lot of anger, you just don’t allow yourself to really feel it because it’s uncomfortable. Your allowed to. Considering the circumstances you have every right to feel anger, the sooner you let yourself feel this without the guilt that comes with it the healthier you will be.
You are going to experience a sense of deep loss, it will feel like grief and it will hurt as you let go of all that you have known. But grief is a process, at first you will be in denial but this is where you must listen to me. This is really happening, there is no denying it. You are seriously ill and the sooner you accept that the sooner you will be ready to get help. Loss is a horrible feeling but it is just that, a feeling that you will overcome. Grief gets better with time. Give yourself time.
Most importantly of all I want you to remember just how loved you are. You are about to embark on the biggest journey of your life and there will be dark times ahead of you, times where you feel like giving up and wanting to end it all, but if you listen to my letter to you you will get through it.
You will discover the real you and that is going to be such an exciting time. The eating disorder has taken over your life, sucking the life out of you and leaving you the shell of the person that you were. The person you see before you has been pushed and pulled and shaped by the eating disorder, it’s not real. You are about to discover the real you, you will find new hobbies and interests and make so many new friends. Enjoy this process. You will look back in years to come and see just what you have overcome, there is hope. Be strong. Life is waiting for you.