I think many of us have things in our past that we’d rather not admit to—a moment or experience or time that causes us pain when we think about it.
We may hold onto these things, these moments, these experiences—setting them aside somewhere inside of us hoping we’ll never see again.
But, of course, they don’t leave us.
The moments, the feelings, the sensations, the memories come back—because they want to be tended to and learned from and seen.
One of my things—one of the things I’ve always held tightly to myself, told only a select few people about—is that I had an eating disorder when I was younger. It started the summer before my senior year of high school. And it took years for me to completely get out of.
I can see why it started, what triggered it. I can understand who I was and what I was going through and what some part of my mind thought I would “get” out of it (a feeling of control).
I have carried a lot of shame around this part of my past. I knew what I was doing was “wrong” or “bad” or something “you shouldn’t do.” I tried to hide it. I didn’t want anyone else to know.
But I’ve also spent a lot of time over the years reflecting on that period, thinking about who I was, what I was going through, how I felt. I have brought awareness, understanding, and compassion to myself.
And yet I know that I’ve still struggled with accepting this part of my past. A part of me still wants to keep it hidden, wishes that it never happened.
I think it’s the part of me that’s a perfectionist—the part that wants to seem perfect, unflawed. Of course I know I’m not perfect, but I am aware that there is a part of me that has always wanted to seem that way. Interestingly, or ironically, perfectionism has been linked to eating disorders.
While not everyone has had an eating disorder or this kind of experience, I do think many of us carry shame around certain parts of our past, discomfort with moments or experiences or thoughts or actions. We may carry these deep, dark secrets feeling like we’re all alone, like we’re the only ones in the world who have gone through what we’ve gone through or experienced what we’ve experienced—but we’re not.
We all have our lessons. This is one of mine. For whatever reason, this is an experience I carry.
We don’t have to tell everyone these things. We don’t have to shout them to the world, but we should be willing to reflect and inquire within, honestly. We have to be able to admit them to ourselves. And we should be curious about what our inner desire to keep them hidden means (about our thoughts, our beliefs, who we think we should be, how we want to be seen). And from my experience, I’ve learned that telling someone we love, who we trust, can help. Speaking it out loud can feel freeing.
We also need to understand that to be whole, we need to accept our past and all past versions of ourselves. This means bringing love, understanding, and compassion to all parts of us.
To make peace with these parts of us, we have to be willing to admit to them, to hold space for them. We have to spend time reflecting upon our past, and we have to accept our past, our past selves. We have to accept that they are a part of us and our life experience and that whatever happened happened.
We are who we are because of every experience we’ve gone through.
Each moment of our lives led us to where we are right now.
Personally, I love where I am now. I love who I am and how I feel and where I can feel I’m going. I love feeling what’s happening inside of me.
We can’t live wholly or fully in ourselves if we deny ourselves—any aspect of ourselves.
This is a journey, our journey.
We have to accept all of ourselves.