Dearest @Micro, I am so proud of you for sharing this with us. The instant that you did, it became impossible for you to be alone. You’re now surrounded by people who hear you, who love you, who care, who share in your feelings, and who will be with you every step of the way. I hope you know just how worthy you are of all this love. You’ve been fighting this for so, so long, but you’ve never been alone. You just didn’t know we had your back yet. I have read over your post a lot. Whether the things I say are helpful to you or not, I hope you’ll receive the most important message: I see you, I hear all of what you’ve shared, and I still accept and care about you without hesitation.
To put words to something that’s burdened you for so many years, to ask with such an open heart whether there is hope, looking so earnestly for the healing you know you deserve, it is all so touching. You have done such incredible work to get this far and that is something you should absolutely be proud of. If you want to know if there’s hope for things to get better, consider this: the version of you struggling with this just half a decade ago wouldn’t believe how far you’ve come by now. I can’t even imagine how relieved the teenage you would feel to see who you are today. Who knows where you’ll be in just another couple of years? What I can say for sure is that God, yes, there is so much hope for things to get better.
It’s completely okay not to know where you should go from here. You’re moving into unfamiliar territory but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. I actually view it as a pretty good thing, it’s a sign that you’re committed to rising to this challenge and leaving behind old ways of thinking. I believe that there are new, better things out there for you. I think you’re right when you say that this may be the first of many steps towards even more personal awareness and healing. This path should be walked carefully, of course, because vulnerability should be treated with care. When you wonder how close you can get to the line before you’re pulled back into the all-or-nothing way of being, I worry for you. Not because I don’t think you’re capable, but because I have been there and I know how hard this balancing act can be. So when I talk about this I want to be careful too, I want you to know fully that this place is completely safe for you to be open and honest. We’re not going to try to hold you to account for missteps, we’ll be encouraging you to keep moving despite them. We’re going to love and accept you every step of the way. I know how vulnerable these parts of us can be. I’m so grateful that you trusted us with them. You’ve worked so hard, through all the tears and the anguish. You’re doing such a good job already. I hope that sharing this has already brought you some amount of peace, and that a few more steps can help to grow that.
You’ve started an important conversation, and I really hope you’ll continue to talk about this. I want you to see how many people around you want the best for you, and I want you to get the support you deserve when times are hard. You’re not alone. To that end I’d like to share some of my experiences too. I’ve also, in large part, recovered from addiction. In this sense I resonate a lot with what you’ve described here. I see you talking about having to fight off being called back to it, using words that I swear I’ve used too. The phrase, “it’s a vicious trap that doesn’t say its name” hit me hard. You have done so well to recognise how this can operate. This process was so tricky, with the constant attempts by the addicted pathways of my brain to worm their way back into my thinking. It was always something like ‘now that we’re better, we can start to reintroduce things slowly, right? We don’t want to go without it forever, we just had to take control back. Now we’re fixed, we can have just a little.’ It’s damned nefarious. It can be so difficult to prise something like this apart, to disentangle the healthy and normal levels of engagement with these things from the constant tugging back to our difficult history with them.
That all being said, I know that it’s possible. An addicted brain is lighting up neurological pathways that it’s used to, following the paths of least resistance, as brains do. Over time we can start to amend those pathways until the least resistant paths are closer to what we truly want. Over time we might build up brand new ones entirely. That chapter of my life has a happy ending, and one that I hope can bring you some hope: Now I don’t even like the thing I used to be addicted to. I’ve found better ways of meeting my needs and I’ve ultimately discovered that I never actually got what I wanted from it in the first place. I really, truly believe you will be the one talking like that someday.
You have done such great work figuring out where these difficulties have come from, what they look and sound like, how they function. It is such a good thing, to really know ourselves. I hope you know that every last piece that you’ve discovered and named is worthy of love, too. It is all you. Some of these parts bring challenges, but that’s okay. We can work with that. They don’t invalidate a single good thing about you at all. Your tapestry is a rich and varied one. Such is life. In a practical sense it helps too; the better we know what underlies these patterns of thought, feelings, and behaviours, the better poised we are to manage them.
I know that your subject line is asking about how to lose weight and be healthy, but I think there’s an intermediary step that may be beneficial. It absolutely wouldn’t be easy, nor is it a matter of just flicking a switch, but I think it bears mentioning that you and your body are already wonderful exactly as they are right now. If your body image could be shifted to see things this way, that you are already so great as you are, then everything else would be a bonus. Then your goals could be about what you want to give to yourself. This may be a helpful protection against the all-or-nothing brain that wants you to believe that you’re not worthy until you’re x or y. You’re already worthy, and you would be no matter what shape or size you came in. You’d still be Micro. These words are true, but I know they won’t feel true and that’s the difficulty. Maybe, if done gently so as not to be too triggering, this could be one way to continue healing.
I don’t know how much this will resonate with you, and if it’s not of use then that’s okay. I also want you to know that I don’t mean to speak for you or your experiences, not one bit. I can’t know how you feel in these moments, I don’t know what kinds of words might help, and if none of these do then that’s okay. When you look at your body in the mirror, those familiar voices will likely have a lot to say. The inner critic has an obsession with imperfections, and it’ll make those familiar false claims: that the way you are isn’t good enough, that you’d only be worthy if you changed this part or another… But why are they the only one who gets a voice? Only the rudest, jerkiest voice is allowed to talk? Maybe other voices would love to retort back. Um, excuse me, rude voices, who exactly is Micro meant to be changing for? Whose concept of perfection are you even referring to, and why is it so narrow and exclusive? Isn’t it true, rude inner voices, that Micro is actually doing pretty frigging great? Haven’t you seen how far they’ve come?
There’s so much more to you than their words. You might be able to consider how despite it all, your body has miraculously brought you to where you are now. Together you have survived, together you are able to make such an incredible impact on the world. It has been impossibly hard at times, but somehow it is your fingers, held up by your arms, your torso, connected to your brain and heart, that type out your messages and light up the souls of so many people around the world. There’s so much power in your body. What I wish for you is that one day you’ll be able to look at yourself in the mirror and say ‘I love you so much’ no matter which part you’re looking at.
I know that body image isn’t the only thing you’re fighting against in this. How this interweaves with health is particularly difficult. I can’t overstate how hard I know this must be for you. Every day must be riddled with triggers and I can’t imagine how it’d feel to be inundated with these constant calls to move backwards. It must’ve taken so much to learn to cope. I’m impressed by the work you’ve done to figure out where these feelings and patterns of thought have come from. That is essential, valuable work that you’ve done for yourself. I think it serves as wonderful evidence that things can improve further too. You are versatile, I have no doubt that you can do it.
With all of this said, it feels important to me that I mention that this isn’t the sort of thing I think people should have to go through without assistance from experts. When you liken it to addiction you’re spot on, it’s real and serious and you absolutely deserve help with it. I’m so sorry about the bad experiences you’ve had with nutritionists and doctors up to this point and I’m not going to tell you to try that again. You’re absolutely right, their level of understanding can be woefully and harmfully insufficient and I wouldn’t want to risk having something so vulnerable being discussed with people who aren’t ready for it. I know that there is a large body of research on this set of struggles and that there are people out there with the expertise and wherewithal to help you, I just wish I knew how to get them to you. I have one idea. You already have one foot in the door, having seen a qualified mental health professional recently. I’m avoiding specifics for your privacy, and I’m not entirely sure if you’re still seeing them, but could you possibly get in contact or talk to them about this in an upcoming session? These people tend to communicate in networks, so if there’s a specialist in this field near you then they may be able to refer you on. Even if you met with such a person in online meetings, I think that would be just fantastic.
I have health tips, I think everyone has a few, but I’m sure you already know whatever I could say and I don’t think that’s what you need. What I really want is to start to embed the message that you’re good enough right now. You’re already in peak condition, maximum awesomeness, optimal Microsity, you’re already perfect. Anything you do to work on your health is an addition to your greatness, not a correction of a fault. Activity and eating in certain ways can make mental health struggles easier to manage, and gosh is that tricky in this context. I know there are a lot of reasons that this in particular is hard. But I think it helps when your motivation is that you want to feel better, for yourself and nothing else. Maybe with this as the foundation a new pathway for these things can be paved.
Eating habits are such a hard thing. You’ve spoken about how trying to control them, or being told how to control them, can be triggering for you. I don’t want that at all. I would love to instead focus on reframing these things. Regardless of what we eat and how much, I don’t think it is ever bad enough that we deserve to punish ourselves for it. You’re fighting something very serious, something deep and incredibly challenging. I want you to know that it’s okay to be imperfect in how you do this. Some habits will be really hard to unlearn and that’s okay. You’re not out there killing anyone, you’re just trying to get a handle on your health while in a war with your brain. You deserve to be on your own side as you do so. When you’re able, I hope you’ll choose to be kind to yourself and tell yourself that what you’re doing and what you’ve done is okay. These brain signals aren’t hardwired, it’ll take time but they can be adjusted. Trust me when I say that I know you can do this. You’re already winning this battle, just look at how far you’ve come.
You are not at all condemned to the place you are in right now. So much can still be done, I promise you. It’s entirely realistic of you to consider that this could get better. It may take some time, but it’ll be nothing like filling a well with one cup of water at a time. As you progress you will get better at it too. The all-or-nothing brain will try to attack sometimes, but that is also okay. It’s something we know will happen, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. You’ll still be a good person, worthy of love, regardless. Slow, steady progress can be a wonderful thing, and it can become unstoppable. You can have a healthier relationship with your body and with food, and if your past successes are any indication of how it will go, then I’d say that you certainly will. And to be specific, a healthier relationship by your own, self-chosen terms, because none else matter. What helps you is what will be best. The peace you deserve is not as far off as you think. It may feel like you’re at the base of a mountain sometimes, but truly, you’re most of the way to the top already. You have already done so well.
One last thing. When you’re dealing with something like this that’s so pervasive in your day-to-day motions and so ever-present in the mind, I think it’s important to produce loving environments where you’re able to feel safe and protected from judgment while feeling vulnerable. One example is right here with your HS fam, we’ll always be here to support you unquestioningly. I’d love it if you had a place in person that’s similarly safe and caring, too. If there’s a room that you can designate as a safe place from anything and everything triggering in this regard, I think that may come in handy. Home is the place to recuperate, and so it really must feel safe. The more space you can give yourself to be protected against judgments, the easier it may ultimately be to see the truth: that you’re wonderful and worthy right now, exactly as you are right now.
I’m very grateful that you shared this. If you want to talk more about any of it at all, you’ll have so much support. You spoke about recognising the source of these struggles, patterns in how they eventuate, how you’ve come to know yourself better as you explored this, there is so much. As always, you are under no obligation to elaborate on any of this at all. Just know that you’re completely free to, and that no matter what we’ll be here. We care about you very much. You are so loved, Micro. Thank you for all that you do for us, for me, for the community. You are the exact opposite of alone.