On fear, words, and truth
I have to start this post by saying I am gobsmacked by the outpouring of encouragement and support I received following my original blog post. I live my life surrounded by good people who love and encourage me on a daily basis, but the response my post received was beyond anything I could have imagined. It reached a broader audience than I anticipated. And to my surprise, I did not receive one negative piece of feedback. Not one. There are tears in my eyes as I write this...because I almost didn’t post the blog. I was afraid to post it. Before I was afraid to post it I was afraid to write it. Before I was afraid to write it I was afraid to say it. Before I was afraid to say it I was afraid to admit it. I was afraid.
I was afraid of what would be said to me. I was afraid of what would be said about me. I was afraid of what would be said to those I love. I was afraid of what would be said by those I love. I was afraid.
Fear has defined so much of my life to this point. I’ve been afraid of not being accepted. I’ve been afraid of not being known for who I really am. I’ve been afraid that living authentically, being who I really am, would lead to rejection.
Initially, fear stopped me from being honest about my struggle with anorexia. I’m embarrassed to even admit this, but I was afraid that if I put it out there I would receive negative feedback—because I don’t look “anorexic.” Because I’m not thin enough? Because I’m not skeletal? Because I haven’t been hospitalized? What kind of crazy thinking is this??? This is Anorexia.
This is the truth about Anorexia. I am beginning to see it in pictures—the sunken eyes, the protruding joints. But I don’t see it in the mirror. I don’t see the scary, sickly frame that others tell me I carry. That is the disease. It’s like I’m wearing goggles and everything I see is viewed through the lens of this disease.
More than that it affects what I hear. “You should eat a cheeseburger.” “She could use a cookie or two.” “I wish I had that problem, I smell chocolate and I gain ten pounds.” “Here you can have some of my fat.” “Can we trade disorders for awhile? I can’t seem to stop eating.” These are all things that have been said to me or about me or that I have overheard. And they hurt. Words hurt. And maybe you didn’t mean them to. Maybe you didn’t even consider that they might. But maybe you should. Maybe we all should.
The words we say to and about each other carry so much weight. “Sticks and stones might break my bones but words will never hurt me.” I was taught to say that as a child. To let teasing and negative comments roll off my back. I understand the intention behind that phrase. I shouldn’t allow another person’s opinion of me to shape me, to change me, to influence me deep down, where it really matters. But if I’m honest I do care what other people think of me. I want to be liked. I want to be loved. I want to be accepted and included and I think that that is a basic human longing. The need to be known and loved as we are.
And so I was afraid to admit that I was struggling and had been diagnosed with Anorexia. Because what will people think? What will people say?
I’ve been warned by those close to me that I shouldn’t share my struggle or post pictures of myself at this time in my life because there are people watching on social media and elsewhere. Because I have chosen a career in fitness and health. And so I might be a role model to some. I might be an inspiration, a physique that another girl is trying to attain. And I’m sick. I have a disease. Anorexia is the reason I look as thin as I currently do. Does that mean I should hide myself. Does that mean I can’t speak about what it means to work toward a healthy lifestyle in regards to exercise and diet? Does that mean that I shouldn’t be teaching the classes that I love to teach at the Studio I am so grateful to be a part of with the clients who have shown me nothing but love since I stepped foot in the door?
That feels a whole lot like fear to me. And I’m tired of being afraid. I choose to live bravely. I choose to be seen. I choose to be known. I choose to love and be loved. I hope you are with me.