Success is love and I’m successful. I may not be the richest, smartest or prettiest. I might not be the most charming or rational or even loveable person you’ll ever meet. I make mistakes. I make them a million times over and then once more for luck.
Let me tell you though, I’m successful because I love myself. I love myself on a good day, a bad day and on in between day. Loving yourself no matter what the weather is a triumph and it’s not easy. On the 23rd of February, I celebrated my two-year anniversary, from a break-up, with an abusive relationship. That relationship was with myself. When I hit six and a half stone, I still wanted to lose the phantom fat I saw in the mirror each day. My punishing eyes and warped world view saw a different person staring back at herself in the mirror. When I was 18, my idea of success was being thin, but it didn’t stop there. My life was burning as many calories as I could and eating as few as I could handle. People describe outer body experiences and that is what my relationship with myself was. I couldn’t see, feel or even tolerate my being and that ultimately led to me becoming a shell, mentally and physically.
The more weight I lost, the more desirable I felt. When my periods stopped, my weight loss did not. When I became tearful around the prospect of eating something that wasn’t calculated, I believed it was an upset caused by not achieving my goals. The idea that being a frail and coveted creature was born in the world we live in. I was told success was measured in being desirable. Society told me that to be worthwhile, I would need to be skinny. I believed in those magazines. I worshiped the superficial projection that is still splashed across every medium we look at.
I had spent my adolescence reading but not seeing double standards like “Confidence is Sexy”, swiftly followed by “Top Tips For Abs” and some sugar-coated version of “How to Make People Accept You”. Young people are not equipped to cope with such confusion. We need to make it our priority to educate our children. We need them to be healthy and to survive in a world that can quite frankly, be a shit smoothie at times. We need to tell them that they are worthwhile, regardless of what they look like, how many likes they get on social media and what size jeans they can fit into.
For me, love came through time, effort and an intense level of patience from both my loved ones and myself. My first appointment with the doctor who told me I had a problem, and my last that told me I didn’t will forever be seared into my memory because they were both turning points in my life. I entered that office fearful. I left fearless.
Today, it is estimated that 70 million people in this world suffer from an eating disorder of some kind. That is 70 million people, who were just like us and are experiencing their own version of hell every second of every day. This figure is a mere approximation due to the secretive nature of the disease. Anorexia Nervosa, as a cause of death is 12 times higher than any other emotional illness associated with females between the age of 15 and 24. Anorexia has the highest death rate of any other psychiatric illness.
These numbers might seem like a far off and distant concept but those statistics tell me that I am lucky.
Be your own success – and let it be love.
Happy International Women’s Day x