We first met when I was in High School. Someone I love had just told me that if I kept eating like this, I’d become fat, ugly, and no one would want me. I was seeking comfort, someone to tell it wasn’t true. Someone to tell me I wasn’t worthless. So there we were. You walked into my life at my most vulnerable state and I welcome you to with open arms and heart.
You went to work right away. Started out with a list of all the things I needed to do in order to earn your love. How many times I had to exercise and for how long. I learned how to stay on the treadmill for hours. How to push through injuries even if my body was falling apart. Since you came into my life, I cannot remember a time when my relationship with food didn’t fluctuate between careless gluttony and sheer panic for excess calories. You would force me to throw up every time I ate anything, making me anxious that all my hard work would be in vain. You taught me how to sneak away to the bathroom and held my braids as I regurgitated everything. You sat there with me as I was lying on the bathroom floor exhausted with blood shot eyes, red skin and my chest hurting from an overworked heart. Then we’d practice how to put on a smile and pretend all was well.
I wanted to stop
I just wanted to be ok
but you would always convince me that this is what it would take for me to feel worthy of anything good
On the days I was too exhausted to throw up, I would just lie on my bed, starving myself for nearly 2 days at a time. If I lacked anything , determination was not it. I was never enough. I was chasing a love based on unattainable criteria, There were never enough pounds to lose. I just wanted your love so desperately
for you to see me.
For you to approve of me.
For you to tell me I had done enough.
That I was good enough
I’d cry nearly everyday, begging and pleading, and you would apologize. Telling me that you didn’t mean to be like this. I just made it so difficult for you to love me, but you promised to never do this to me again. The happy times would come back for maybe a week at a time, then we’d return to you telling me I was useless and unworthy of love.
I tried to run. I really did. But everywhere I went, there you were. Never a moment of respite and it was driving me to madness. They often ask why we stay. Why we don’t pack our bags and leave in the dead of the night. But it doesn’t work like that in this case.
They don’t have exit strategies for when you are your own abuser.
But thankfully, you needn’t try to escape to escape yourself. Not if you give yourself permission to love you as you are, unconditionally, unapologetically, abundantly, like your life depends on it. Because it does.
Isabelle Masado writes about body compassion on her blog "The Dear Body Project". She knows all too well that the personal is the political, is the community. As such, there is no discussing body compassion without talking about the assault on black bodies, trans women, and people with disabilities. Her mantra is, "How can I live in a way that makes room for you too"? She writes to examine, to heal, to redeem.