I Love Myself

But I didn't used to.

I love myself, but it wasn't easy to get here. The strange thing about eating disorders and life in general is that it's frighteningly easy to convince ourselves we love us when we really don't.

Anorexia granted me an inflated sense of self. I had this strange need to be perfect in every aspect of my life, perhaps to prove to everyone that I was doing just fine. To the world, I might have looked self-absorbed and I sort of was, but it was rooted in this sense of hatred I had for everything about me.

We don't realize it at the time, but we shrink ourselves in order to contain. We want our lives to fit in a perfect little box so we can control and mold it to fit what we think is right. We're not taking charge, we're just trimming ourselves down a little here and a little there in order to manage with more ease.

The realization that I didn't love myself hit me one morning and cracked me open like an egg. It was the first thought that came to my mind that day, on a Sunday about a year ago. I had just woken up and rolled over to stare at the ceiling, paralyzed with this feeling that nothing had a point and I shouldn't be here.

It was heartbreaking. I lay there, unsure of how to proceed.  A thought like this had never occurred to me before, but suddenly it seemed as though it had been looming there my entire life. Every glance in the mirror, every pull of my skin or frustrated tear that bubbled up from staring at my stomach for too long flashed through my mind. I saw with clarity that my entire worth had always been based on my body, and sadly that didn't make me any different from most women.

I don't love myself, raced around and around and around my mind, exhausting me in my horizontal position. I don't love myself and I never have.

I could have given up right there, but I chose to see it less as a tragedy and more as a challenge. Okay, so I didn't love myself. All these years I was convinced that I did, that I was perfect and that the only improvement I required was a smaller waist, always a smaller waist. But this epiphany hit me just in time to show me the size of my body meant nothing. There was so much more about me to appreciate, and I had to keep searching.

That was a tough morning for me, but I moved forward with a goal even more important than my recovery: I HAD to love myself.

So how did I proceed? I began surrounding myself with things that made me happy, things that made me feel rooted in my own foundation. That's how I saw it: I wanted to be able to get back to Young Taylor, the little girl who didn't give a shit how many calories she ate, the little girl who ate simply to feed her hunger. I wanted food to be the last thing I thought about - I wanted to create space for so many more important passions.

I joined a dance class. I carved out more time for me to write, sometimes for my blog, sometimes professionally and sometimes just for myself - for no one else's eyes. I took myself to the park, to lunch. I gave myself a break when I needed it. I took naps. I let other people cook for me. I went to book readings and protests and dance clubs. I forced myself to live the way I really wanted to, the way my eating disorder was always so terrified of.

I love myself now, and I can't tell you exactly how I did it. It took a long time, and it is by no means perfect. I still have self-doubt and days where I don't want to leave my bed. But I do. I keep pushing, because that's all I've ever known.

I'm not sure how to coach someone else to love themselves, because what worked for me may not work for you. But I think our intentions have to be the same. However we figure out how to get there, we have to want it. Put it before every need and desire and doubt and roadblock and just keep pushing.

We all deserve to be loved by at least one person, and that person is you.


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