Written by Emily Costa, Blog Manager at Project HEAL:
Believe it or not, there was a time in life where you and I both did not have a care in the world. We did not worry about what we saw in the mirror, or what size jeans we were or what others thought of us. We were authentically and fearlessly ourselves and bravely facing the world around us with pure confidence. As we grew older we started to care more and more about our appearance, a slippery slope that ultimately leads to self hatred and pain.
Recovery offers this once in a lifetime chance to mend that pain, a chance to learn to say I love you to yourself and mean it. One of the most helpful things I do to get through the process of recovery is writing to my younger self. If you had the chance to sit down with 10 year old you, what would you say? Below is a letter to my younger self.
To my dearest Emily,
I first want to say how beautiful and adorable you are. How perfectly imperfect you are. You are a sweet little girl and I wish you could have kept that innocence for just a little bit longer and I wish I could have protected you better from the world. I know you felt ashamed of yourself so early on and that pain must be unfathomable. I know that you felt so scared and vulnerable that you began to hide away your beautiful personality and face from the world. I know you had no understanding why you felt the way you did that you decided to mask your true and authentic self when you were too young to see what damage that would do.
I know why you did it; you feared the very same things I am learning to face today. But I actually want to say thank you Emmy, because you did what you thought was best. In that moment, it felt necessary to hide in the darkness away from yourself and everyone else. There was so much uncertainty and pain you were feeling way too early in your very precious life, and I understand it fully. I know you did what you had to and I feel grateful that you protected our hearts in the best way you thought. I am also sorry you had to deal with all those thoughts that simply shredded any self-confidence and self-love you had. I do not want this letter to make you feel guilty for the actions you did, but I do want you to understand what I know now. And here is the part I can’t wait to tell you; there is a better life ahead my love…
The darkness will lift, you will shine and it will be wonderful. See, I know you felt self-conscious and overwhelmed with everything happening but there are so many healthy ways to deal with those emotions. Without hiding away, without hurting your body, without keep everything bottled up inside. You have an entire world to explore and so many opportunities to take. I know the world terrified you, the unknown, the uncertainty – but when you stop worrying about that, life becomes extremely lovely.
I am slowly finding joy and freedom that is teaching me to not be so afraid anymore. That my body is perfect as is, and hating it and abusing it wont fix all the problems I struggle with. Life is not meant to be perfect either, it’s going to have up and downs. Light and dark days but when you start to focus on the good days, the bad ones start to become manageable. I know this may be shocking news, me telling you that we both don’t have to be afraid anymore, but I promise it is true. We have so much to live for and learning to love ourselves will pay off tremendously. One of my favorite sayings I want to share with you is ‘she who is brave is free.’ I hope you can take that with you through this journey. We both have to stay brave and strong because freedom and a life of happiness is waiting for us. We may have to fight, but it will feel 10x better knowing we earned it all. I can’t wait to show you what this world has to show. I hope you are feeling less scared as we walk through this process together.
You deserve the best my love, you deserve to put your face bravely facing the sun. I love you, thank you for all your help in the past and now. Here is to the future and finding pure joy and freedom.