“For the person that needs to see this today: Your heart will heal, your tears will dry, your season will change. Rest tonight knowing the storm will end.” ~Unknown
When I was fifteen, I officially started engaging in the diet scene. As a teenager who was trying to fit in, feel pretty, and gain acceptance, I thought that food was the fix. Food—or the lack of it—would be the solution to all my problems. All that thought really did was make everything worse.
As a child, I would visit Europe every other year, to visit family. The culture and the outspoken nature of the people there, often relatives or family friends, were sometimes soul-crushing to me. I understood the language, so I knew that when I would meet someone, they would inevitably say, (not in these exact words, but pretty bluntly, if I do say so myself), “She’s chubby.”
I would cringe inside. I would want to hide. I would want to cry.
But instead, I just smiled and pretended I didn’t understand. It was easier to do that than to show them how I really felt inside, which was awful.
Disgusted with myself. Embarrassed. Ugly.
When I think about it now, thirty years later, I feel so bad for my younger self. I took all of the criticism from these unknown people and turned it inward.
I absorbed it. I believed it was true. How could I be anything but chubby?
And if I was chubby, and that was the first thing people noticed about me (other than my blue eyes), wasn’t that the most important thing?
It didn’t matter that I was kind, creative, or sensitive. Just chubby. That was the theme of my life once I became aware of it.
It got to the point where I started restricting what I was eating. At the time, it felt like I finally had willpower. I felt in control.
It was the beginning of the chaos for me. I lost about forty pounds in a short time and ended up with some health complications. But I felt skinny! I felt pretty.
Over time, I found myself in a high school relationship and gained some weight back. I don’t remember too many of the details after this point, but I remember that when that relationship failed, I reverted right back to bad habits with food.
My eating disorder reared its ugly head throughout college. I kept it mostly to myself. I tried to deal with my problems alone, too embarrassed to tell anyone.
Again, it caused a health flare-up that finally pushed me to get the help I needed. I knew I needed to change. I knew the life I was living was not good for me anymore.
I wanted to find peace in the new. I wanted to change my life and move forward. I worked really hard on changing my mindset, pushing myself to be uncomfortable, and healing myself from the inside out.
I found Reiki, a type of energy healing, and it helped me focus my energy on something positive. Instead of worrying about what I ate for the day, I focused on filling my body with positive energy.
I started thinking about my thoughts. I changed the negative thoughts into slightly more positive ones. Then, as I got practice, the slightly positive thoughts turned into actual positive thoughts.
I began healing my thoughts by changing my mindset, focusing on my health, and making choices that my mind, body, and spirit would approve of. It was not easy, but man, was it worth it.
Looking back, I am proud of who I am, who I was, and how I transformed. I know it was a long ten years of self-punishment, but I think it shaped me into who I am today.
It helped me become more empathetic. It helped me learn coping skills. It helped me learn that it’s okay to feel my feelings (and share them with others!).
My experience living with an eating disorder could have ruined me. It could have physically, mentally, and emotionally ruined me. Instead, I used it and turned it into a lesson of strength.
I learned to put myself first. I learned to put my health first. I learned to fight for myself. I learned that hard work was THE work. There is no getting around it.
Nothing in life comes easily. I think if something come easily for us, it is easy to forget about it. In a way, it loses its value.
For the things that we need to work at are the things that bring the most growth. Blood, sweat, and tears they say, right? That’s the value. That’s growth.
This story is a reminder, for me as much as for anyone else who needs to hear it, that you can do the hard things. You are not stuck. There is always room for change, for growth.
If you are not happy with yourself or your life right now, take some steps to make yourself happy. Find someone you trust and talk to them. Find a mentor or a therapist. Practice self-care.
Immerse yourself in something that uplifts your energy. Read a self-help book. Get your body moving. (Physical movement can really help shake up stagnant energy!)
Empower yourself to make the changes you need to make. Picture your life as you want it to be. Then take steps to turn that vision into reality.
Baby steps are still steps. Slow growth is still growth. Keep moving forward. Keep growing.
When the life you had is not good for you anymore, do something—anything—to change it. You don’t need to remain stuck or unhappy.
Once you start taking care of yourself in this way, a whole new world will open up for you.
A world where self-love, self-compassion, and self-growth surround you. A world where you can finally love the parts of you that you never thought were worthy of love. A world where you are wonderful, just the way you are.
Oh, what a wonderful new world that would be.
About Stefanie Ruth
Stefanie Ruth is a #1 best-selling author of the book Your Sacred Journey: The Ultimate Guidebook to Align Your Mind, Body, & Spirit. She is an intuitive Reiki Master Teacher, Karuna Reiki® Master, spiritual life coach, tarot reader, and Akashic Records Reader. Stefanie offers a variety of healing sessions and classes to people worldwide. She is featured in ReikiRays, Spirituality+Health Magazine, Medium, and Authority Magazine. To learn more, visit her website at https://liveandbreathereiki.com.