I tend to think I’m the only one with inner battles, the only person who struggles and wages war. I’m the only one that puts up walls and façades, the only one that hides my weakness and hurts and problems. I must be the solitary screw up that looks like she has it all together, and that makes me very special. That makes my problems valid, and excusable, and exceptional. If I’m the only one with problems, one that can be clinically diagnosed at that, I can claim an angst limited to a select number of a special, troubled elite. In a sense, it’s all quite romantic, really.
Of course, that deceptive mentality isn’t constant. Most of the time I’m bemoaning the fact that I don’t have the usual problems that I perceive others having, anxious over the fact that I’m not healed, not whole, not normal with normal problems.
There’s only one wrench to throw into this mentality. What in this far, wide world constitutes a ‘normal’ problem? Would it be more normal, perhaps, if I had to worry about where I was sleeping tonight? Or if I worked my hardest in all my classes, only to have anxiety about passing? Or if no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t connect to others in a way that felt real and meaningful. Maybe it’d be better if I had a pattern of co-dependency, or felt so inadequate in my own skin I felt forced to joke about who I was. Why do I think that I am unique in floundering because I struggle with the remnants of an eating disorder? Because the problem isn’t an eating disorder. The problem isn’t eating too little, or eating too much, or feeling a lack of control, or feeling pleasure from too much control.
It all goes much deeper than that, and to think that fixing the surface problem will make me better, happy, or whole is a lie. And to think that I am unique in having problems is also a falsehood, a fabrication from a dark place. Recognizing the pain that my problems causes me should prompt me outward in compassion to others, not push me further within myself. Being involved in intentional community at the Vista House, and reading literature about growing together purposefully and deliberately has helped me realize the great similarities within our differences.
Take hope, then, that you are not alone. And give hope, because you are not alone.