From Failure to Forgiveness
By: Laila Drury
What I most deeply wish I could have articulated to those around me when I was struggling is what it felt like to live inside my mind when I was truly empty, what a day in the life of the battlefield of my brain can be like. This is not a cry for pity, but rather a call for human connection- to everyone out there fighting their own inner battle, you are not alone.
Immediately when I would wake up, I was often hit with an onslaught of thoughts telling me how much of a failure I was. My perfectionism was crushing and suffocating, further fueling the fire of my eating disorder. When everything in my life felt out of control, at least I could restrict. I could control more, eat less.
Every moment of the day seemed to be an opportunity for searing, painful failure. Eating “too large” of a lunch, showing up 5 minutes late to an appointment, letting my mind wander instead of having a laser-like focus on my homework; the list could continue. With this tidal wave of self-criticism came more ways to quell my anxiety- control more, eat less.
Eventually, these negative thought-processes won out. Every moment felt like a mental tug-of-war, trying to contradict the thoughts with logic. I could feel the part of my true-self desperately fighting to stay alive, while my eating disorder and anxiety sucked my life away. I reached a point of such exhaustion that it was all too easy to just listen, to control more and eat less.
For my eating disorder, the absolute worst failure was admitting that I needed help, that my thoughts were truly controlling my life. At the same time, I can’t put into words how proud I am that I was able to break through years of self-criticism and finally claim my life as my own. I was ready to fight, but knew that I could not do it alone.
I am so beyond grateful for every single supporter in my life. Without my family, friends, and treatment team, I would not have been able to fight back. Thank you for reminding me that I am more than enough, just as I am. Thank you for showing me that there was still a part of the “true me” left underneath the trail of destruction left by my eating disorder. Thank you for supporting me while I learned the skills to help me fight back. Most of all, thank you for continuing to show me how much beauty and forgiveness exists in this world.
To a certain degree, I still deal with this inner dialogue every single day. Some days are more tranquil than others inside my head, but with the constant support of my friends, family, and therapists, I can work to step away from the constant firing of failure-leaden messages. I can take steps toward a life full of light, love, and deliberate compassion.
During the days of my deepest struggle, it was nearly impossible to imagine that there could be a life beyond this painful chaos. Now I am working to find joy and peace in the mundane: the smile of an old friend, the feeling of the sun on my face, the freedom of vulnerability, the power of forgiving myself. My darkest days have shown me just how precious the light is.