Olivia Deliyannides is a Psychology and Social Work major at Calvin College, located in Grand Rapids Michigan. Olivia has been a contributor to the blog series for quite sometime and helps edit the pieces submitted before they are published. In her spare time she practices her photography and writes short stories. She is a free spirit by nature and seeks to find truth in the art that she produces. She seeks honesty in a world full of facades and works to uncover what is hidden.
“Lean into the tediousness of things, find stability in the imperfection of things.”
I will hesitate and swallow myself most moments of the day, not because I believe it is for the best, but because I will let go of myself for others to love me. I will become dust beneath their feet. This is all done to receive a love I believe I deserve.
The year is 2007, I am looking in the mirror and I do not understand what I see. I do not see the bones, I see the folds of my skin as I twist and turn to look at myself. I begin to beat myself, hoping to punch away the fat of my childhood.
The year is 2012, and I have just disclosed to my best friend that I might have an eating disorder. It has already been 5 years in the making and I cannot stop. She, in turn, tells her parents, who then disclose it to important figures of my community and I cannot
talk to her about it anymore. She cannot keep my secrets.
The year is 2015, I tell my sibling that I do not know how to eat anymore. They in turn tell their friend who works with me to monitor my eating habits. They are called when I decide to skip a meal. I cry and tell them I am fine and to leave me alone. I have not
had my period for three years.
The year is 2017, I have just rejected the love of two of my closest friends, and I am sitting on the porch with my friend as they take me step by step through their suicidal ideation as they’ve drunk the night away with vodka. I talk them down for three hours.
The next day I go to college. I stop eating for three weeks to control for all that I had recently lost.
The year is 2019, I am in and out of the doctor’s office, missing classes by the multiples, week after week. The doctors do not know what is wrong with me, but they tell me to treat it like something they are familiar with. The damage of malnutrition has caught up with me and I am picking up the pieces of ten years of chronic malnourishment, and 2 extra years of deciding whether or not taking care of myself was a choice worth making.
I now have to manage my life around flare-ups, where I lose too much weight in too small of a timeframe. The pain is bad, the appetite is lost. This time around, the weight drops are not a victory. They are a sign that my body is now sick, and I cannot control how it responds anymore. It is a steep price to pay.
I wonder yet where the lesson is within this story. I am ignorant to the pieces of myself that are worth lingering on. What does the outsider see? I can look in the mirror and give myself finger guns all I want, but I know the ability to love my physicality is just scratching at the surface of a world of healing.
Where is the lesson in the suffering? Where is the proverbial phoenix rising from the ashes in my story?
The first time I told the story completely was a month ago. The honesty towards my past has been developing over time but I had not been able to find the words. The truth is, this is uncomfortable. Facing one big mistake I have made has been embarrassing, and I have chosen to do it publicly.
I then wonder if this story is worth it when others can speak the truth to it much more effectively and motivationally. I wasted a lot of life coping with major issues in one majorly unhealthy way, and I am paying for it daily in lackluster and inexpressible ways. If I could go back in time, to 2007 Liv, all alone with this newly forming idea that less is more, food is means of control, and bodies are meant to be abused, would I tell myself to stop so that I would not have to be in the uncomfortable space that I am in now?
Most of me says yes, I would shut it all down as quick as it started. The smarter and more provocative part of me says that I would change none of my past choices. That response leads me into a thought I have been having for the past year now. Regret is stupid and mistakes are meant to be made. I would change none of my stupid choices because they are what have formed me. I have carved myself a backbone that could not exist without those stumbles along the way. I regret nothing, I would change nothing.
I now know my limits. I now know that self-love is not only about viewing ourselves in kindness, but how we respond to our problems and how we are responsible for helping ourselves. My previous method of problem-solving left me reaching for something I could never have. Whatever I was searching for, it did not exist. The high of weight loss was fleeting and hurt worse over time, physically and mentally.
On the other side of that experience, where I am today, I allow myself to recognize that things are broken, that hurt happens, that I can never be some perfect thing. I say it a lot, probably because of my dad, but lean into it.
Lean into the tediousness of things, find stability in the imperfection of things. None of us know what we are doing or where we are going, or what all the lessons are supposed to be. Yet we instinctively keep on moving forward, life goes on, our hearts keep pounding. I am letting go of the perfect bits because they are only distractions, dishonest pieces that tell me that life is an easy ride if I only manage to do that one impossible thing.
I recognized a long time ago, I have options. There are always choices and options to be made. Never choose to be perfect, you will lose many important pieces of yourself along the way. The good part is this: the road we are on is not a maze with only one way out, it is a network that we can choose where to move next. Move forward into the imperfect spaces, full throttle with all of your fear, and come out the other side not with a perfect self, but a whole self.