3 Lessons My Eating Disorder Taught Me About LifeBy Homaira Kabir
I used to wake up many mornings (or lie awake many nights) wondering how my life might have been different had I not struggled with an eating disorder in my younger days. I might have gone to an Ivy League university. I might have become a decision-maker on Wall Street. Or a change-maker in Silicon Valley.
These kinds of thoughts never come without a surge of regrets, and a certain hopelessness when we can’t see beyond what’s immediately in front of us—or are consumed by what’s far behind us.
I think few of us have escaped these beleaguered feelings. After all, an eating disorder is nothing other than fear in its very worst form. Like most fears, it isn’t aligned with the life we truly want for ourselves.
For instance, an eating disorder will go to any lengths to keep you from everything you’re capable of doing—it’s especially jealous of your talents and accomplishments. And it will happily disillusion you all the way to your deathbed. I know because I was almost there three times over four years.
Regular fear is no less controlling and will also keep you from your biggest and boldest life. It’ll make you play small; it’ll make you say no to opportunities that delight your soul, and yes to everything that takes you away from what’s important. Plus, it’ll justify your decisions for you so you don’t feel angst about the path not taken.
But only for so long. Somewhere down the road, you’re bound to hear the soft voice of your soul, feel a certain restlessness for the life inside of you that longs to be lived. I don’t know if that’s where you are, but that’s where a lot of us give up. We regret our choices and decisions and feel doomed. We pine for an imagined life that might or might not have been possible and feel worse about ourselves. Every time we feel the spark of possibility, our fears rap us on the head and remind us to stay put.
That’s where I was some years ago. I’d been living in a future that couldn’t be, and I was tired of the pain that came with it. My eating disorder might have left a long time before, but boy was it still keeping me from embracing my best life possible.
So, I decided to make peace with my eating disorder. I decided to accept it as part of my past so I could learn the lessons it taught me. I’ve distilled them down to three. I hope they bring a sense of belonging and direction to anyone who is de