When I first began the recovery program, I thought self-love was hokey. I had all kinds of assumptions about it, you need to be self centred and shallow, it’s takes too much time and money, it’s froofy, pampering, time consuming, certainly not something I was into, up for and definitely not something I deserved!
In clinic, there are many groups centred around self love, but when I began, I didn’t even understand Self-Soothing and Self-Compassion were amongst them.
I guess I should go a bit deeper, I always considered myself someone who was mindful, in touch with myself and my surrounding. I love to get out in nature, to spend time where it’s peaceful’ I have a natural gift with animals; even one of the classes I instruct’ consists of yoga, tai chi, and mediation. I thought I was pretty in touch.
Hind site of course, is 20/20! When you have an ED, you feel completely worthless, I mean, how could you not? Something, or more likely, multiple somethings, have driven you to deprive yourself of one of the main staples you need to survive, food. It doesn’t matter in what fashion you are depriving yourself, if it’s that you’re just not eating, you’re purging, laxatives, over exercise, it doesn’t matter, you are trying to run your body on a deficit, and let’s face it, we wouldn’t even do that, to the shittiest of shit box cars, because of course, it would die; catch my drift?
As time went on, as I began eating and keeping, becoming healthier both physically and mentally, it slowly started to make sense. At first, I still stuck to the notion that self-love was superficial, painting my nails, using a homemade sugar scrub, perfume, a foot soak, going for a massage, treating myself in some way. I started enjoying methods of self-soothing, not only did I look forward to them, but Gabriel jumped on the band wagon and he started enjoying them right along next to me.
It wasn’t until I was out on a walk with my dog Gigi, watching her enjoy every moment, the sunshine, the fresh air, running, jumping, splashing in the water, chasing rocks, a stick, her ball, not a care in the world. It finally hit me, what true self-love is! If you’re thinking it’s acting like a silly fool, frolicking in the water? Well, maybe sometimes it is! The dots I finally connected, were self love starts with the fundamentals, when you love yourself, you do your best to take care of yourself, you eat nutritious food, you get the sleep your body needs, you drink plenty of water, you bathe, you move and take care of your body. Self-love starts by taking care of yourself, keeping yourself healthy, being kind to yourself.
Suddenly it all made sense, all of these groups and programs I had taken part in, they all came down to self-love. Some were obvious, mindfulness, self-compassion, finding purpose, others not so much, assertiveness, recreation, peer groups; but they all came together, to form a foundation to launch self-love, something until now, I can’t ever remember doing.
An ED creates so much desperation, shame, remorse and negative feelings, not just to ones self, but towards others, towards life. Self-love, care, compassion and soothing were the furthest thing from my mind, but as I started to become healthier, it became so clear why it was such an important part of recovery and life in general. Every part of an eating disorder is unkind, it separates it’s host from reality, from kindness, from connection to oneself and others; adding self-love in any form to your life, is the beginning steps, the foundation of separating yourself from the disorder, moving away from it, towards something better, towards recovery. So be kind to yourself, show yourself Love, Compassion and Kindness, show The Disorder it can no longer control every act and know, YOU are worth so much more!