My entire body is shaking and I feel a wave of nausea coming over me as I get ready to click “publish.” I’ve hit cancel more than a few times now but a tug inside of my heart is telling me that I need to share something more significant than #tacotuesday today. To be honest, social media has been chipping away at my heart lately. As I carefully craft the perfect post to live alongside other people’s highlight reels, I can’t help but compare myself to their seemingly perfect lives. But you noticed what I said there, right? Highlight reels? Because that’s what we tend to share…the best of the best, only the carefully curated moments we want others to know about us.
Well today, what I’m sharing is imperfect. It’s a work in progress, a struggle, a battle…me. The real version of me. The me that I’ve tried my very best to hide from the corners of social media out of fear of judgement, shame and guilt…until today. In a world that makes it so easy to be consumed and overwhelmed by our perceived “lack” that we feel as we quickly assess the things that someone else has in their highlight reel that we “don’t”, I want to reach past all of that to the person who is sitting in the same seat as I am today in search of something real.
March 2014, I snapped the photo on the left. I remember this day very distinctly as I stood at the top of my stairs in my Royal Oak apartment, alone, petrified to take this picture. I was really good at hiding this version of me; baggy clothes, layers, etc. A lump in my throat formed as I opened my camera. I didn’t want to take this. At all. But I knew I had to. I kept this photo safe and close to me for what has been almost four years now, just waiting for the time to come to share it. I knew when I did, I had to be in the right place. If you had scrolled through my social media feed at the time that photo was taken, you would have never known the darkness that was in my heart…or at least I didn’t want you to. On the outside, my life was great! I had an amazing boyfriend (my now husband), a good job, wonderful friends, a beautiful family. But, I hated myself. I hated the way I looked, I hated the way I felt, I hated that I let myself get to this point and was trapped in a body that I knew wasn’t mine. I can still feel days in the pit of my stomach where I would catch myself in the mirror as I did my hair or makeup. I remember the hatred that filled my heart as I not just thought to myself, but told myself that there is no way any could really love me if I looked the way that I did at the time. This hate was fueled by my binge eating disorder, something that I never shared publicly until now. Food was a coping mechanism for me — for stress, for depression, for fear, for boredom, for anxiety, for self-hate. Until this day. This day in 2014, tears filled my eyes and my heart felt relieved as I finally decided to give up the fight against myself and instead, forge a new path of love again.
The photo on the right was taken earlier this morning. I literally took one photo and then walked away. No posing, no lighting adjustments. Since the photo from 2014, a lot has changed. I reassessed my relationship with food, took time to understand my disordered eating and found ways to make a healthy change. I established a workout routine that makes me feel my best and brings out the best in me. Am I exactly where I want to be in terms of my body? Nope. Do I still slip up from time-to-time? You bet. But do I now approach life with a love and appreciation of the power of my health and body? 100%.
When I first began my health coaching journey, I was brought to tears within the first week of my program. Not only did I finally feel like I had found my “dream job”, I knew this was meant for me because I’ve been on the other side….the “secret” other side. I’ve been through the self-doubt, the self-hate, the feelings of worthlessness, the not knowing where to turn in what seemed like a never-ending cycle of binging all while making sure people only thought that my life was perfect. And it’s through all that darkness that I live in the light today. I still compare myself to others and there are times where I let the highlight reel cloud my mind and weaken my heart. But then I remember that in the secret spaces between the highlight reels are real humans. And if sharing this today reaches just one person who needed to be reminded of the real, the good, the “real life” and that sincerely loving yourself matters so much more than the way you want people online to think they love you, then the girl from 2014 snapped that photo with you in the bright parts of her heart.