NEDAwareness Week Day 6: Silencing the Internal Critic
When I originally embarked on sharing my story, I thought I was in a place where I could separate myself from who I used to be – detach my present identity from this battle that consumed the greater part of my adolescence. I envisioned a polished essay with a crisp and neat conclusion. A happy ending. But there is no ending. I am in the thick of it. Weak and tired from years of being on the defense, this battle is still raging. You never fully recover from an eating disorder. You never fully rid yourself of anxiety. You don’t eradicate the voice in your head reminding you that you are not enough. You adapt. You cope. You learn to overpower the voice within you – to quiet the internal critic, if only for a moment.
I am fortunate to have found myself. Buried deep beneath the shame, criticism, fear, and anxiety, I found strength, optimism, and hope. I still get lost in the stress and unpredictability that seeps into the fragile everydayness of life, but I am learning to navigate this complex web. I am learning what tools work best for me to adapt, cope, and overpower that voice and remember that I am enough.
When I moved to this city last May, I had a clear vision of where I would be today, ten months later. I envisioned my career and social life, my professional development and future plans. And, on this warm spring day, it’s safe to say I am nowhere near that vision. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Passion and purpose can easily remain dormant if everything goes according to plan. In the last ten months, I experienced the empowerment – and terror – of financial independence. I faced the difficult disappointment of realizing a “dream job” is not quite your dream. I fell in love with a city, swooning every chance I get.
But it’s not the city itself that has become home – it’s the people it led me to. The friendships and moments of discovering I am not alone. The courage to introduce myself on a steamy July evening. The hours spent together on the trails, free of distractions and free of expectations. It’s the nights under the stars, the shared meals, and the early morning runs solving life’s problems. It’s the mentorship and support, the compassion and patience. It’s the realization that this real and exposed version of myself, still raw and healing, is enough. I am enough, and I am home.
My anxiety still consumes me. Sometimes, I crave the comfort of control and the ease of isolation. I still avoid mirrors, and my anxiety continues to push me to this ledge. But, as my toes creep over its edge, back swaying in the wind, I no longer feel consumed with darkness. I am no longer overwhelmed by fear. I feel safe. I feel strong. I feel hopeful.
Anxiety, disordered eating, and perfectionism have left me hollow. But I am healing. I am recovering. I am not running away anymore.