When I think of my childhood, the only things I can remember are feelings of anxiety, fear, and shame. One summer, when I was about seven or eight years old, a family member of mine convinced me to perform oral sex on her. She was twelve.
All I ever wanted was her approval and her acceptance. I listened to everything she said and told myself that I wanted to be just like her when I grew up. So, when she made this request, I told her I didn’t want to and that I didn’t know what to do. But, she told me not to worry, she would tell me everything I needed to know and that I would like it once I did it. So, of course, I obliged, and did as I was told. Once it was over, I was so happy, and thought that I had done a good deed, but I knew I didn’t want to do that again. But, to my dismay, once was not enough. This continued for months until the school year began, and I didn’t see her as much.
That summer, my world stopped.
I was no longer a carefree child, but an angry, anxiety filled, fearful one. I pretended I was still the same, but I knew I was not. I looked at all my peers and felt that I could never fit in with them. So, I turned to food. Once my world ended, I only found enjoyment in food. Food was reliable, attainable, and predictable. So began my relationship with food, or rather with a semblance of control. As a child, I overate, but when I grew older, and realized I was “fat,” I stopped eating, and my dysfunctional relationship with food, though different, persisted. Whether I stopped eating or binged and purged, I felt in control. During this time, my addiction to working out began. It was an everyday occurrence, sometimes more than once daily, and I loved it. The gym was my friend, my significant other, and my stability, and without it, I felt worthless. So, I cut myself. When I missed the gym, I cut myself; when I thought of my past, I cut; when I felt alone, I cut.
It wasn’t until this year that I realized how unhappy I was and how limited I was because of my depression and anxiety. I had “friends,” but I never had anyone close to me. I had a wall so strong that no matter who tried, nobody could get through. This wall was my protection. Nobody could hurt me with this armor. But then, nobody could help me either, and I was utterly alone.
My addictions only filled my void so much, and I was left so broken that only human compassion and love could help. I seemed so strong to everyone else, but I was crumbling on the inside. And that’s where my journey to recovery began, the one I’m still on now. I’m in therapy, on antidepressants and antianxiety medications, and I have found true friends. I am, by no means, “fixed,” but I am, and will continue to work at it.
I have learned through my experiences that my past will always be there, but I don’t have to let it control me anymore. I will be okay; I will be hopeful; I will be me.