Beautiful People Do Not Just Happen
Rewind to 2012. It's a new school year. I'm 24, sitting in a classroom with 18-year olds. "What am I doing with my life, why am I so far behind?", screamed the demons in my head day in and day out. I'd go home, back to my parent’s house, feeling like I'd lost all control. I felt like I should have had a career, apartment, handsome boyfriend and a solid core of friends by then. I could check one thing off that list. I had a great boyfriend and I was lucky for that. Or so I thought. Eventually, I realized I had little control in that relationship as well. There I was, 25 years old, left insecure, lost and in the shadows.
This is when it all began. I needed to find some type of control in my life. Something that was mine and that no one could say otherwise. Before I knew it, I couldn't wait to get home so I could enjoy this control. I could release any negativity, shame or judgment I was feeling. I preferred feeling empty, rid of everything in my head, rather than feeling lost. Was it healthy? No, of course “it” wasn’t. I knew that. But the feeling “it” gave me– that control, that power– overshadowed everything, even my health.
Once I started, I couldn't stop. I eventually told my boyfriend, who insisted I tell my parents. They didn't get it, no one did. Just eat. Snap out of it. You look great how you are. Where did you learn to do it? What did I do wrong? What is wrong with you? But you love food. You have such a great life. Just some of the things they'd say.
In comes my dad, to me, the smartest, most understanding man in the world. He was completely clueless about why I would be doing it. But he did assure me that I was not behind anyone in life; I was simply exploring all of my passions and ensuring that I would find the right one. Apparently, it is common to feel this way at my age, not entirely happy or confident in where you are in life, because you expected so much more from yourself. Reality takes time, and success takes hard work and patience. “Don't worry”, he'd tell me. “You'll find your calling soon. Don't worry”
Come November, I moved in with my boyfriend until the end of the school year, roughly 6 months. My parents, he and myself all thought this would be the best thing for me. His career was demanding of his time, leaving him exhausted and unmotivated from a bad day, or travelling for days at a time. So there I was, stuck in a 600 sq. ft. apartment, just me, my thoughts, and “it” – getting worse as time went on.
Fast forward to July. I found myself single, depressed and not wanting to make much effort in my social life. Sad, right? The only thing I had going for me was I was thin! Finally, I had control over something – my body! I could wear whatever I wanted. I felt confident in a bikini or crop top. I was getting compliments wherever I went. There was no better feeling than that. Wrong. It is easy (sometimes) to put on a happy face, but no matter how I looked, nothing changed the fact that I still couldn't find happiness, acceptance or just shut off all the demons in my head.
That October, and after leaving one therapy centre for another, I' found two therapy angels. The first, whom I saw for just over a year, helped me come so unbelievably far, I could not be more grateful. Each two-hour session with her was spent in tears, slowly peeling off all the layers of emotional trauma that I didn't even know I had gone through.
My newest therapist has a completely different approach, and each hour and a half session with her is spent peeling through even more layers, leaving me speechless at how the smallest things in life can have the biggest impact.
I had been emotionally abused in my relationship. Shamed, name-called, controlled, threatened, excluded, demeaned, disrespected, and cheated on – just some of the things I let him get away with. I didn’t tell anyone. I put on a happy face and everything seemed perfect from the outside. I lost touch with some of my lifelong, best friends. I had so many passions and goals, but lost those as well. I didn't want to go out with the friends I did have left. And, I certainly was losing the desire to exercise or do yoga. Why did I let this all happen?
Eventually, I was diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and “it” – the demon in my head. "It" was an eating disorder.
I don't even recognize the person I was just describing. Sure, the anti-depressants help but so have the hours of therapy and damn hard work. I refer to the girl who was caught in that relationship as a completely different person than the woman I am today. I’ve also found a lot of calmness, comfort and peace with my mind and body image through yoga and meditation. It never hurts turning to the big man above, as well. I put a lot of my faith in Him. Lastly, it is with utmost excitement that I can honestly say I have found my worth. I will never again let anyone treat me as less than I deserve. I know my value and what I have to offer. The self-respect I have for myself will not allow me to settle for anything less, ever again.
I just finished my Bachelor of Commerce degree. I have a set career path. I have reconnected with and met some of the best friends I could ever ask for. I have a family (and dog) who are my biggest fans and support group. I could not be happier with my life. I completed my 250 hr. Yoga Teacher Training and am excited to embark on a new journey, obtaining my Diploma in Natural Nutrition. My long-term goal is to become a “Body Image Coach” and to help those who have suffered realize their true beauty through yoga and nutrition.
It hasn't been easy. It won't be an easy road ahead, but that's why I'm here. I don't want to suffer alone. I don't want to suffer in silence anymore. I want to end the stigma around eating disorders and mental health. I didn't choose this illness but I am choosing to beat it.
Without going through those muddy waters, I wouldn't have bloomed into the beautiful lotus I am today.
“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”