New year, new me? Not so fast…

Looking back on 2014, I have come to realize that this past year has been one of the most difficult years of my life. Over the course of the year I have gone through waves of relapse and recovery, I’ve had my ups and downs (admittedly more downs than ups), I’ve felt completely hopeless, I’ve felt completely alone, I’ve felt out of control, I’ve been completely self-destructive; but despite all of the hardships, I’ve managed to hold on to some semblance of hope for a better future.

Ten months ago I was forced to face something that I had tried so hard to forget about for the past decade: I was sexually abused for 2+ years of my life. I was forced to confront the memories, relive the past, and deal with the shame that came along with it. Some of my coping techniques were not healthy, but with the help of a friend I was able to seek help for my self-harm and for the eating disorder that has plagued me since I was a pre-teen girl.

In June of 2014, I was diagnosed with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Bulimia Nervosa, and depressive symptoms. On top of this I was suffering from self-harm and social anxiety. It was taking everything that I had just to make it through the day; I wasn’t living, I was just existing. I wasn’t happy, and my diagnoses did not just magically make me feel better, but it was a step towards recovery. I got the answers that I needed in order to help me start working on the issues that had been progressively getting worse since I was only 10 years old.

Today, I have been self-harm free for 12 days. While this may not seem like much to an outsider looking in, this is a huge accomplishment for me. In terms of my eating disorder, this continues to be a huge struggle for me and there is not a day that goes by that I do not worry about my weight, the number of calories I have consumed, and how many pounds I need to lose to reach my goal. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t improved at all; on the contrary, I am coming to understand that there is no such thing as “perfection” and to chase such a thing through weight loss is hopeless and unhealthy. This doesn’t mean that I am going to just wake up one day and stop obsessing about food, but it is a start.

One of the other things that I struggled with a lot in 2014 (and perhaps the thing that had the biggest impact on my unhappiness) is the burden that I held in protecting my family from the reality of my abuse and the abuser. This is a burden that I continue to hold even today, but I have talked to my psychologist and we have tentatively talked about having a family session within the next 4 months in order to tell my family what happened to me and help them understand my illnesses. Some of you might think that 4 months is a bit too much time to take in order to tell my family what I have been dealing with, but in all honesty it might just take that long for me to work up the nerve to finally tell my parents what happened to me. I am hoping that it won’t actually take that long, but I’m prepared to give myself the time to cope with the decision if I need to. My hope is that 2015 will bring me the peace of mind that comes along with relieving this burden; I don’t want to hold on to the secret anymore. I want to be free.

2014 was a really hard year full of struggles, and I’m not going to ignorantly claim that 2015 will be completely flawless, but I am hopeful that it will be a much better, happier year. I’m done feeling unhappy; I’m done hurting myself as a distraction from the pain that others inflict upon me; but most of all, I am done living my life to make other people happy. 2015 is going to be the year that I live my life for me. I will do what it is that I want to do and I will put my own happiness above that of the people who don’t have my best interest at heart. Some might call it selfish, but sometimes selflessness can be just as harmful as selfishness. There is a fine line between the two and it is important to find a balance.

2015 is going to be my year to reach for my dreams and live my life for me; I’ve only got one life to live after all.

So here’s to a wonderful, happy, challenging, inspiring, dream-filled year. I hope you all have an amazing 2015 and I can’t wait to share another year with you all!!

xo

Ayla

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