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Melanie: Free from Never Being Good Enough

Melanie: Free from Never Being Good Enough | Libero Magazine

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A long time, I thought that if I had the body I wanted, I would have the life I wanted.

It took years of starving, binging, purging, lying, fights with my family, rock bottoms, weight loss, weight gain, therapy sessions, meal plans, group meetings and eventually living in recovery to discover that this isn’t how life works.

I thought that if I could just get thin, my whole life would be amazing.

I’d get the perfect body, and then the perfect life would follow. I thought it would make up for the fact that I constantly felt inferior to everyone—I was never smart enough, funny enough, talented enough, or interesting enough.

I believed that if people thought I was beautiful, none of those things would matter. I never felt good about anything I did, and somewhere along the way, losing weight became my way of feeling accomplished.

However, what many people with eating disorders eventually realize is that you have already set yourself up for failure, because no matter how much weight you lose, it will never be enough for your eating disorder. Maybe there will be some temporary satisfaction, but you never reach a point where you feel happy. No matter what the scale says, you still feel like you haven’t done enough.

That’s because it’s not your body that needs fixing. It’s your way of thinking.

I remember first starting to see food differently when I was 14 and I wanted to have a “dancer’s body” like some of the girls in my ballet classes. I had finally entered puberty and my body was determined to have curves—all the women in my family have them. I thought that if I had the right body, I would be a better dancer. In reality, people of all sizes can be awesome dancers.

But I didn’t know that back then.

I started seeing food as something to be careful of, pay attention to, and control. I read about diets and calories in magazines and eating started to actually scare me. I felt like all food was bad for me, and little by little, I starting cutting foods out of my life.

I went on trendy diets in secret, never letting my family know why I was or wasn’t eating certain things.

I thought about food 24/7. My relationships with people suffered because I would isolate myself and stay home so I could avoid food. And if I did go anywhere, I was typically cranky or tired from being undernourished. I was tired all the time, but couldn’t sleep at night.

And I always felt anxious and sad.

Melanie: Free from Never Being Good Enough | Libero 1

I did lose weight, but I also lost energy, my spark for life, and a lot of memories with people I loved. And no matter how much weight I lost, I still never felt like I was enough. My life didn’t magically come together when I lost weight. It actually fell apart. Even at a lower weight, I was still the same person with the same insecurities. I couldn’t fix my insides by changing my outsides.

Eventually, my family and friends grew incredibly worried about me.

Several people tried to confront me about the issue but I always played it off like I didn’t know what they were talking about. My best friends finally went to my parents and told them what they were seeing, and things came to a head on a family vacation the summer before my junior year of high school.

It was hard to hide how little I was eating when we were all eating together, and people could tell how much I had deteriorated when we spent a large portion of time at the lake. I was also sleeping on the beach in a hoodie in mid-July, constantly freezing as my body struggled to maintain a normal temperature.

My mom approached me about it on that trip, and I was so tired of being sick and sad. When we got home we scheduled appointments with a doctor, therapist and dietitian.

Learning to talk about my eating disorder was hard.

Therapy was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done, but I know that it saved my life.

I learned so much about myself and saw that I am a person of value. I can’t be defined by a number.

I struggled for many years to stay stable in my recovery, but with each backslide I remember that my eating disorder never solves my problems.

One of the most helpful things about recovery was learning that I was enough, and realizing that “perfect” bodies (and lives) don’t exist.

Every single body is different, so it’s impossible for there to be a perfect one. There is nothing wrong with your body, so stop fixating on all the “flaws” you see. There aren’t any flaws, just differences.

Today, I am living happily in recovery and continuing to learn a lot about who I am and what it means to love myself. If there’s any lesson I’ll keep with me forever, it’s to not base my self-worth on something external—change and happiness have to come from the inside.

I still struggle to remember I’m good enough some days, but I am forever a work in progress. And even on bad days, I’m always glad that I chose recovery.

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Did you know “Libero” means “Free”? Libero started with a story shared by our Founder Lauren Bersaglio back in 2010. We believe when we share our stories we can champion mental health, end stigma, and spread hope. We would love to have you share your story and celebrate freedom with the rest of the Libero community! Click here to learn more!

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