The Starving Child

Today I awoke to the sight of little brown furry ears resting on my pillow, peering out the window at the rising sun and the clear blue autumn skies. The day held so much hope.

Hope can be deceiving.

It matters not how, or why, I ended up in a cycle of soul destroying binging and purging – the reasons are much the same as all the other times. I lack the emotional skills to deal with life.

What matters is what I do now, because that will determine how genuine I am when I say I want recovery.

My first action was to reach out. To reach out to a small online group of women who understand binge eating and bulimia. They reminded me of a guided visualisation for self-compassion. It was exactly what I needed to hear. I’ve listened to it twice and it brought up a lot of thoughts, a lot of grief and a lot of ancient history. It left me with really powerful memories – so clear I could almost reach out and touch them. So real I am still processing and grieving.

Immediately post binge, my thoughts turn inward and become hateful – spiteful. They speak to me in a manner I would never even contemplate speaking to anybody else. The hypercritical voice speaks in a tone that is degrading and humiliating. It reminds me I feel like a failure, or a moron. It says I am not good enough and my intrinsic value is in superficial appearances. It believes I will never get off this roller-coaster ride – I’m here to stay. I am beyond redemption.

That voice is my protector. And it is afraid. It is afraid I will get fat – so it motivates me to keep doing what I’m doing. It is afraid I will never recover, so it discourages me from going through the heartache of trying. That voice has always loved me but never helped me. It has never served me but has always meant well.

That voice is my mother.

I can see and hear her, as if she were standing in front of me now. With loving concern, she says I need to lose weight, just a few pounds so I might start to look attractive. She means well. I know she does. She always did. She worries I’m not slim enough or attractive enough to be happy in life, because that is what she learned somewhere along the way.

But today I said goodbye to her. I thanked her and watched her turn around and walk away. I told her I love her and I’ll miss her, but I’ll never see her again. I don’t need her voice or her concern  – I never did. It hasn’t helped me one little bit. My mother died eight years ago – but I have been seeking the love and approval I so desperately wanted from her all my life. I will never receive it. Today I said goodbye to her and accepted that truth.

I have always had a little timid voice of reason that has quietly argued in the background. Today I welcomed that voice and gave it a face. That face is me. A little girl craving love and attention. So desperate to be good, to be noticed, to be wanted, to be nurtured. That little girl was starved of affection. That little girl is the only one now that knows how to love me. She can hand out the hugs she so desperately wanted – she knows what’s needed. She knows how to forgive. She knows how to accept. She knows how to move on. She knows how to survive.

That little girl is the face of compassion – she has spent her entire life caring for people. She knows how to do it.

Today I farewelled my mother – eight years after she died. Fifty years after she instilled the critical voice of judgment in my heart. Today I welcomed the little girl that has waited all these years for the love she was always worthy of – simply because she exists. Today I grieved. Tomorrow I can start to become whole.

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