From Daniel: This is a guest post written by E (name not revealed), who is a patient at The Recover Clinic, a specialist eating disorders counselling and support service. Highly trained therapists provide advice and guidance to eating disorder sufferers, and their families, through counselling, group therapy and workshops. Hence, browse this site to know a true story of recovery and acceptance.
I find it funny now to look back on how hypocritical I was, back when I hated humanity and retreated into myself. I would look at others and mock their cries for attention, forgetting conveniently about my own obsession with my body, something seen by other people. It wasn’t about my physical self, I told myself and others; I didn’t want, or need other people’s perceptions of my body. What they thought was irrelevant.
But now I can see the truth. I wanted to stand out. I wanted to be strange and make others wonder whether I had a problem. I wanted to be like the girls I found interesting. I wanted to look good in anything. If I did that, I thought, then the world was my oyster.
So, yes, I wanted attention too. But “seeking attention” is such a shallow concept. Still, I can see that my eating disorder, to some extent, was rooted in the decision I made to change my personality so that others would like me more.
I had the ability to adapt from a young age (around 11), and through this, I began to see all the opportunities I could have, and all the people I could be, if I wanted to. I was acting, and it was fun. I was, and still am, fascinated to see how people respond to my performances.
The problem with acting all the time is that you can only ever be perfect at being you. You can never perfectly embody the characters you’re trying to play. And sooner or later, some of the personality traits of your latest character begin to conflict with your own, and you become aware that this costume doesn’t quite fit. So you start the cycle all over again, with a new character. And again. And again. All in the hope of finding one that fits, that will mask all the insecurities of the real you.
Eventually you become so far removed from your true self that when you try to “just be”, you don’t know who you are. It’s scary, not knowing where your mind will lead you, what it will be capable of if you don’t control it.
My need to please everyone clearly indicated that I craved assurance and approval for being me. I was sick of other girls declaring we were “best friends forever” and then dropping me and teasing me a week later. What I really needed was simply the confidence and strength to stand up for myself and deal with the situation.
But now I have that. Now that I’ve realized how much I tried to hide my true self away, I feel strong. In myself and who I am, in the decisions I make, and in my relationships with others.
It’s truly healing to finally accept yourself for who you are. When you’re no longer challenging your true self, everything gets so much deeper. You’re open and honest with others, and you can be confident in your friendships because you know your friends like you, and not some character you were just pretending to be. There’s no pressure; you can relax.
Try and get past the uneasiness, and you’ll see you’re a much better person than you think you are. However strange it may seem at first, accepting your true self, and becoming one with it is a massive reality check, but it’s one that will positively affect every aspect of your life and your relationships with others.