“I will have a happy ending. I am sure of this now. And I am not the anorexic girl or the bulimic girl; I am a girl who struggles with anorexia and bulimia. It does not define me. I am not alone. You are not alone. And hope is never lost. We are free.”
I wrote these words eight years ago with no plan other than to shatter the glass walls of secrecy I found myself encased in.
A lot can happen in eight years.
My first story was simply titled “Libero” because it means “Free.”
It was a couple years later when I snapped a picture of myself holding a sign that read “Free from ED + Self-Harm”. This was my freedom statement.
As Libero grew and evolved and I journeyed through recovery, my story evolved, too.
A couple of years ago I found myself staring once again at a blank sign with the words “Free from” written across the top. Completing that statement with “ED” no longer served me. It was time for something new.
At this point in my life, I had journeyed through anorexia and bulimia, depression, suicidal thoughts, self-harm, exercise addiction, orthorexia, and both verbally and emotionally abusive relationships.
An Eating Disorder was no longer the common denominator; in fact, I was learning that it never was.
A new part of our “Free from” project here at Libero is asking the question “What does Freedom mean to you?” After much reflection, I came up with my own definition. To me, freedom is about owning my story and letting go of the shame and secrecy that kept me trapped. It’s about shedding the lies and clinging only to the truth about who I am and what I am capable of.
In short: Freedom is about fully embracing ME.
When I look at what has stood in the way of me fully embracing who I am, I discover one thing: LIES.
I am not thin enough. Lies.
I am not pretty enough. Lies.
I am not worthy. I am not loveable. I am not strong.
I deserve to be alone, to be unhappy, to be damaged. To be dead.
More recently, the lies have taken a more subtle approach:
You are not a good enough writer. You are not relevant enough to be impactful. You are not capable of building the life you want. You are not talented/smart/skilled/experienced enough to pursue what you want.
You are too emotional. You are too open, too vulnerable. You are too outspoken.
You feel too much.
Over and over again they whisper: You are not enough. You are too much.
Over time, I slowly let the lies creep in and take control until I became paralyzed. Fooled by their subtlety and coerced by their relentlessness, these lies have paralyzed me and held me back from pursuing my dreams and creating with passion and purpose.
They’ve been there every time I’ve sat down to write or film. They’ve hovered over me when I sit in my creative space, buzzing around my head until I give up.
They taunt, nag, and abuse me.
When I first wrote my story back in 2010, I mentioned how freedom didn’t mean I was fully ‘recovered’ or that my Eating Disorder didn’t still affect me. I confessed to binging and purging even as I was writing the piece.
Today, the same is true. Though I no longer engage in eating disorder behaviours, I am still vulnerable to lies. I have procrastinated writing this story up until the last possible moment, and I am actively critiquing, editing, and second-guessing as I type out every word, every sentence, every truth.
I am free not because I no longer struggle; I am free because I am standing up and saying NO MORE.
I am free because I am saying no to the patterns and behaviours that I once allowed to take control of my life.
I am free because even though I still can hear the lies, I am finally able to see them for what they are and I am actively choosing not to accept them.
Just as I mentioned years ago that recovery and freedom from an Eating Disorder would be a daily choice, letting go of the lies will be a choice as well.
I will choose it every time I stare at an empty page, every time I feel the pull of creativity, every time I stand in the mirror and stare back at myself.
I am free because I am choosing something different; I am choosing truth. I am free because I am choosing ME.
“Lies cannot nourish or protect you. Only freedom from fear, freedom from lies, can make us beautiful, and keep us safe.” -Anne Lamott