Please note that this is an Archived article and may contain content that is out of date. The use of she/her/hers pronouns in some articles is not intended to be exclusionary. Eating disorders can affect people of all genders, ages, races, religions, ethnicities, sexual orientations, body shapes, and weights.

By: a 19-Year-Old

I have spent countless days and nights sitting on the sidelines and living as my own worst enemy. For five years I lived as a hollow beaten shell of myself. I was ruled by the tyranny in my mind. I hated myself; I despised who I saw in the mirror, and I loathed the creature I felt I had become. Fundamentally, I was desperately afraid of who I thought I was. My insides were filled with self deprecating beliefs, a black and red mire of pain and sadness, anger and despair. I didn’t know how to live. I tore myself down and apart at every turn. I felt totally out of control, vacillating between deep wrenching agony and a zombie-like trance of numbness.

For years while I was in my eating disorder, I tried desperately to control everything and everyone. Inevitably, I failed and in failing felt great pain. Not knowing what to do, I turned to my eating disorder again and again. I sacrificed a sense of mastery over my own life for the false promise of temporary relief. Every time I sacrificed that sense of mastery, I sacrificed a piece of my self. I became a wounded girl. That wounded girl would watch while the rest of the world seemed to dance by. I watched from the side lines, sad and lonely, bleeding from my self inflicted wounds while others were swept up and away by their lives.

That was who I was, but it certainly isn’t who I am today. These last eight weeks have been the beginning of a great and wondrous change. Inside my head is no longer such a terrible place to be. I am no longer my worst enemy. I am becoming my best friend. Growing inside of me is the seedling of my true self. This genuine infant knows I am fundamentally good enough, inherently worthy, and perfect in my humanity.

I am now learning to dance with my life. I am learning to lead and to be led. I am learning to twist and turn, glide and dip, to spin and leap. This dance has a name, it is mastery over one’s own life. Mastery isn’t about controlling everything and everyone. It’s about developing a relationship with one’s life that works. It’s flexible and responsive and dynamic. Mastery is a partnership between myself and all that is greater than I am. It’s a partnership that is incredibly rewarding. It is the greatest dance of all.

What does this relationship entail? What makes the dance work? First it takes trust and faith, both in myself and in my partner. This is so important. I must continually learn to believe in myself and in the vibrancy of my life. Secondly, it takes total commitment and surrender. A true partnership with my life won’t work if I hold anything back. It’s the passion of total presence that sets the dance floor aflame. Finally, I need my own personal style. I need to make my dance my own, not anyone else’s.

Dancing won’t always be easy. The rhythm is sure to keep changing. Sometimes it will be soothing or inspiring. Other times it will be harsh or exhausting. But always it will be my own rhythm. I will always be participating, engaged in an embodied dialogue with my life. My hope for each and everyone of you is that you can learn to let go of being your own worst enemy. Shed your self made shackles, leave your seat on the sidelines, and get up and dance.