• Emily Formea

Chasing Thin

Now disclaimer for this blog post, I know I’m thin now. I know I’m small. I wear smalls in clothing sizes. I would say I’m a smaller average build. I’m muscular and more lean/lanky. So, I do not by any means, what to offend anyone or make people think that I believe I am fat, etc.! My point is that I used to chase being scary thin. I used to want to be much smaller than I am now. I used to BE much smaller than I am now. I’m the size I am here with a balanced diet, exercise, food freedom, etc. My body is happy at this size. I get my period regularly. I wear bigger pants than I did. I look healthier and feel happier, so that was my little disclaimer off the bat. When I talk about chasing thin or ‘wanting to be thin’ I mean when I was at my darkest, sickest, and scariest and back then ‘being thin’ was being starved.

So now, why did I want to be thin?

I think deep down, I wanted to be thin because I’d lied to myself. I had lied to myself that being smaller somehow added more value to my life. That I would be worth more to others. That I would be accepted more by others. The smaller I was, I equated that, to the more perfect people would see me as. I was scared to fail. I had set a goal to be perfect and I was going to achieve this goal, so help me. I was determined. I was fearful of being worthless. I genuinely believed that every jean size I went down, my value as a person increased tenfold.

And at first, it sort of did.

That’s the scary thing about eating disorders, at first, they sort of work. I was heavier as a kid. I played a lot of sports. I was muscular. I ate a lot. I was taller. I was a bigger girl. So, when I first started ‘watching what I was eating’ and ‘losing a few pounds of baby fat,’ people noticed. People responded positively. And who doesn’t love positive feedback and attention? Now, it’s none of these people’s faults! None whatsoever! They viewed me as getting healthier, taking better care of myself, being more in control of my nutrition, exercise, etc. It was a great thing! Until… it wasn’t.

I was praised at first. The boys started to notice me more. My friends complimented how ‘skinny’ I was and how jealous they were of how tiny my waist was looking. I had family members complimenting me on my weight loss. I had people asking me what my workouts were and what I was eating. I was succeeding and that was all I had ever wanted.

Then, I could not fail. I refused to gain even a pound because one pound would show. One pound would end it all. People would see me as imperfect, a failure, a mess of fat and ugly. I truly believed this. Every pound I went down, I was winning the race. If I gained half a pound, I might as well have never have participated in the race at all.

I valued other people’s opinions of me more than I valued my own.

Throughout my entire eating disorder, people would tell me how beautiful I was, strong, smart, funny, etc. Especially in the beginning when I really didn’t look sick at all! But, every single day, I sang myself a different song.

Every pound I lost, made a glimmer of light go out in my eyes.

My freshmen year of college, very thin and very sick.

This sounds dramatic, but eating disorders are not dramatic one bit. This was real.

I hated myself more at my lowest weight than I’ve ever hated myself before.

And that was not the plan.

The plan was to lose a bunch of weight, wear short shorts, be a boss babe, be proud of me for being perfect, continue to be recognized, live a healthy life, travel the world, blah blah blah.

I never planned to cry every night. I never planned to tear myself down bit by bit and day by day. I never intended to ignore friendships, upset family members, ruin relationships.

It wasn’t my plan to miss birthday dinners or to be up days at a time listening to my stomach growl. I never intended to cause so much worry in those around me. I never intended to faint. I never intended to lose my period. It was not my plan to lose my light, to lose myself. I never wanted to feel uglier, lonelier, and more hopeless than I had ever felt in my entire life.

But man, I just could not eat that sandwich.

Food had had such a hold on me. I could not shake it. I didn’t care what I thought about myself or felt about myself. What I did care about was what I thought others would think of me or what society would judge me as. That…. I was obsessed with.

It’s sort of funny looking back and analyzing a past version of yourself. We, as humans, are constantly changing, mimicking, growing, learning, surviving. When I look at my past self, at my eating disorder self, I see a girl who thought that losing weight would add value to her self-worth, but my oh my.. Where in the world could she have made up such a silly idea? I didn’t make it up.

I didn’t wake up one day and look in the mirror and create this insane, fantasy of an idea that I was going to starve myself to be more perfect, to be thinner, to be more accepted, to be more beautiful.

I didn’t wish upon a star and land this amazing dream life.

I saw it everywhere.

I saw beautiful, thin models online, on TV, in books, in store windows.

I saw the pretty girls being asked to the dances first.

I saw the wealthy women on magazine covers.

I never once read about the type of person they were on the inside.

I never once heard about how they could light up a room with their smiles, how they made their friends feel so safe. I never heard if they volunteered. If they loved to sing with their children. I didn’t know if they called home a lot or if they held the door open for an elderly couple at the coffee shop. I didn’t know if they were kind, caring, charismatic, or charming.

I knew they were thin. I knew that made them pretty. I knew they had value. I wanted value.

Why did I chase being thin? Because I thought it would lead me to Nirvana. I thought I would wake up and have it all figured out. I would be the happiest gal alive. I didn’t wake up that way. I didn’t feel that way. I was far, far from that.

Don’t chase anything that you believe will add value to your life. Value, self-worth, self-care, and acceptance can and only ever will be found from right here, right within your heart, smile, soul, and mind. If you believe that being thin, being wealthy, getting that promotion, dating that superstar will make you love yourself, heck even like yourself more, you are poorly mistaken.

This photo was taken around the summer before I went to college. I was always freezing, tired, and looked so scary thin... but, I just could not see myself fail.

When we chase outer objects, we run further and further from ourselves. Why did I chase being thin?

Because it hurt a lot more at the time to work on the things I was not happy with on the inside rather than the outside.

We are very good at putting on band-aids, but we are terrible when it comes to dealing with the infection.

Don’t chase fame. Don’t chase fortune. Don’t chase a weight. If you believe that you will be worth more, f you believe that you will be better off, if you believe that you will be happier, cut that shit out of your mind right now.

I was never more miserable than when I had accomplished my race. I was never more miserable than when I had chased thin and I had caught it. I was never more miserable than when thin was completely mine and I owned it.

I was miserable running and that is not what life is about.

“It’s not what you believe others to say about you that matters. It is what you whisper to yourself when no one is around that will bring you the ultimate sense of peace and happiness.”

Don’t whisper to yourself, “Run.”

Don’t whisper to yourself, “Starve.”

Don’t whisper to yourself, “Let’s put on another beautiful, shiny, and shimmery band-aid.”

I have learned that the greatest thing that I can do for myself is to hold my own hand, go outside, take myself for a nice stroll in the sunshine and whisper in my own ear, “You have nothing to chase, no race to run, and no reason to ignore infection.” Infections make us strong. Figure out your own. Spend time with yourself. Fall in love with the inside of you. Try new things. Make new friends. Create your own self-worth that is solely based on your opinion of yourself. The only opinion that matters.

Going down on the scale never made me go up in self-confidence.

What a crazy concept… how did she ever make that idea up?

Sincerely, Emily

Sincerely, XO Emily || 2020

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