In the depths of my eating disorder, I was screaming for help. From the top of my lungs I was begging someone to see me, to save me, but nobody could hear a word. As a writer, that was the most frustrating thing—for words to fail me when I needed them most. I couldn’t seem to get them out, to explain just how much I was struggling and how terrified I was that I no longer knew how to stop.
When I couldn’t talk my way through it, I wrote my way out. I wrote countless poems and stories and songs in the hopes that if I could put the emotions onto paper, I would better understand them. I also wrote letters, so many letters.
Those letters were never addressed to me. I usually wrote them for the sake of writing, but from time to time, I would leave them for strangers to stumble upon—believing that someone else may need to hear those same words.
I would write things like, “Dear you, I hope you’re having a good day, and if it’s not good, I hope it gets better soon. You deserve good days, and good things. You are brave and you are kind and your spirit is so very beautiful, and even when you don’t feel worthy, you still deserve good things.”
I didn’t think I was worthy of those words, but I could justify writing them if they were addressed to somebody else.
I’ve always disliked the phrase that says you can’t love someone else until you love yourself. On the days I did not think I deserved to eat, the days I wished I was no longer alive, the days I despised every inch of myself—I also found myself loving the people around me so very much. It’s why I left loving letters for people I didn’t know and tried to go out of my way to encourage my friends and my classmates. Perhaps in loving them, I was trying to find a way to love myself.
The act of loving came in the form of a letter I gave myself each day—a reminder that I knew how to be kind and gentle, in hopes that I could one day learn how to treat my own body in that same manner.
Recovery has been like waking up to two letters each day. One from the past, trying to lure me back with promises of how much better it was when I was still controlled by anorexia. The other, from the future, reassuring me that I am enough, and I deserve to see tomorrows that are happy and healthy—tomorrows in which I feed my soul and do not starve my spirit.
No matter how tempting that postcard from the past may look, I know it’s nothing but a lie. And I never wish to lose my words again, to find myself struck silent by self-loathing.
So please allow this to be my letter to you, an open invitation for you to use that voice to ask for the help you need and deserve. This is my shout into the void telling you that you are enough. Not too little, not too much. You are so fantastically, spectacularly enough. Write that love letter to yourself, because you are wanted here just as much as anybody else. Even when you do not believe it. Even if you must write to yourself by writing to strangers.
I missed so much in the years I traded away my words for silence and starvation. When I shrank myself, I lost my courage. I ignored all the postcards from recovery, saying wish you were here.
I’m here now. I wish you were here. There is still time. Find those words. Pick up the pen. Start writing.
This isn’t going to be easy. This is going to be page after page of self-love, and some days you will not even have the strength to make it to the mailbox. Address the envelope anyways. Address all the issues you are afraid to confront, stamp the name of your demons on the front, and send it away. Pack every ounce of kindness and patience you can muster into a package for your future self, for the days when you will struggle. Accept the love letters this world hands to you, disguised as friends and therapists and teachers and blessings.
Write it all down, the good and the bad. Scream not because you are dying, but because you are living.
This letter has always been for you.