This post is one that I was absolutely terrified to hit publish on. It’s an honest letter of all the things I wish I could have said to my beautiful friend when she was in the grips of an eating disorder. I know I wasn’t the best friend I could have been in that time. I didn’t fully understand what she was going through - but I tried, and I never would have been able to articulate this back then. I’m so glad I have written this now.
It’s a real honest look at the heartbreak that is seeing someone you care about punishing their body to and mind because they doesn’t see their own value. To anyone out there who has ever suffered with an eating disorder or body image issue, this one's for you.
I see you, staring at the mirror. I see the way you look at yourself, the way you tug at your clothes and pinch at your skin. I know those thoughts that plague your mind. The ones that tell you you're no good, that you're not worthy. I feel your heart sinking as you examine every inch of your surface. The weight of your soul fills the air. It's heavier than oxygen, putting out your spark with the reflection in the mirror. It's fading under your own perception. It's dim, but I still see it.
I see it because it's there. I see it in all the ways you don't. In ways that could never be reflected in the mirror. I see it in your kindness, your understanding, your honesty, your resilience and your wit. I see it in the way you laugh at a terrible joke, in the way you notice things, the way in which you sip your coffee.
That spark that lights a room when you enter, that shines as brightly as your compassion, that leaves a trail of stardust everywhere you've been - like little pieces of magic you left behind. It's imprinted in my memory, your charm, your grace, your vigor.
It's not shining from the clothes you wear, or from the colour of your hairstyle. No, that spark doesn't care for these things. That spark comes from somewhere deeper. It comes from a beauty, that can't be measured with our eyes. It comes from a beauty that can only be measured with our hearts. It doesn't care for makeup and aesthetics, only warmth and love and feeling.
It's a beauty all within itself, the way you hold you poise. Though it's often laced with clumsiness and blunder, it's an authenticity that radiates compassion. It's reflected in the things you do, that shining spark of yours. It's reflected all around in the places that you've been, the people you've let get too close and the hearts and minds you've touched. It's reflected in the nooks and crannies of everything you are.
I wonder how it is that you've never noticed it. But it's not reflected in the mirror. That's why you never see it.
If you or someone you love is struggling with an eating disorder, you can find help and resources with Beat Eating Disorders UK Charity. Please, don’t suffer in silence.