My mother and her intense body image issues were projected on me from birth. I was told the moment they put me in her arms she said my thighs were just like hersbig. From that very moment, I wasn’t worthy, I wasn’t enough.

My eating disorder started before I was born . . . it started with her.

It started before her. It started with the generational trauma that just passed through all the women in my family, and it ended with me. 

When I was 7 years old I would climb up on my kitchen counter to get into the cabinet that held my father’s pills. I’d go to the highest shelf, grab one of the massive multicolored horse pills and somehow swallow it whole. It was awful and huge, even though to this day I have no idea what it was, but I knew it would make me vomit.

Before heading off to my elementary school, I’d take the pill, and by the time I’d get to my class, my body would throw up anything I had eaten. They’d always send me home after this, but somehow my abusive home still felt better than being at school and in my body. The body that couldn’t keep me safe.

I was only 7 years old, and I’d already lost myself. 

I would repeat this ritual more times than I can count, and to this day, I wonder if my classmates remember this happening. The vomit, me being sent home, the cycle repeating itself so clearly, but somehow missed by all. Unfortunately, that was only the beginning of what turned into 20 years of eating disorders and what felt like a lifetime of hating my body. A lifetime of hating myself. 

RELATED: I Was 15 When I Began Starving Myself

Honestly, I never felt hungry, but I never felt full either. Most of the time I would starve myself, but some days I’d binge to the point of winning eating contests and vomit it all back up. I’d use enemas daily, so often it became necessary for my digestion. This was me at 8, 9, 10 . . . it just got worse over time.

Let’s be real here, I was 42 pounds in sixth grade. That’s smaller than my 6-year-old is today. I was tiny! I was so unusually small, a bone doctor told my parents I’d most likely be only 4 feet 9 inches tall when I was an adult.

But somehowsomehowat home, I was still told I was fat.

I had big thighs. Nothing could change that fact. They said ballet wasn’t right for me, I didn’t have the right body type. I was too much. I was not enough. I had to change it. 

In almost every single aspect of my childhood and teenage years, I had no power. I was abused, taken advantage of, and ridiculed. But my sizemy weightI had control of that. Or so I thought.

I was so naturally small, I just slipped through the cracks. No one really saw the struggles I was facing in any aspect of my life. None of them. But in my life, in my home, I wasn’t seen. Even through my 20s, I was just pushed aside. Forced to minimize every piece of who I was, including pieces of me that took almost 30 years to find again.

I’m sharing all of this because I am almost 35 and still look at the mirror and struggle. I know many people who fight daily with the same exact thing. When I was 20, I wanted to look like I was 15 again. When I was 30 I wanted to look like I was 25.

It never stopped.

It took me until recently to even acknowledge that our bodies are meant to change. We are not supposed to look like we were at 15 when we are 40! I had three kids. Grew, birthed, and breastfed three children. How in the world could my body look like it did when I was 12 after that!? It’s literally not humanly possible.

But an eating-disordered brain truly cannot comprehend this. I thought I had healed my eating disorders in my 20s, but now I see that was a lie. My brain still saw my body so distorted no matter how good I looked, and it just wasn’t ever enough. It always saw what was wrong. But maybe, maybe all those things that seemed so very wrong for so long, are actually what was right. 

After my mother died a few years ago, I realized all the life she missed out on by focusing solely on her looks. So much life and not because she died at 59. I don’t want that for myself and especially not for my children.

There is so much I wish I could say to that tiny blue-eyed little person who felt so unloved, so unseen, so lost inside herself. I would tell her that she is more than people’s perceptions of her. That no matter what her body looked like, she was worthy of love.

She is special, unique, and funny and her wide range of feelings is her superpower. I’d tell her that people will eventually love her for all she is, not just some, so please, please, just stop hiding who you are from the world. Don’t wait until you break to find her. 

RELATED: My Eating Disorder Consumed Me

I lost so much of my life focusing on what was outside myself and not what was within me all along. Over the past few years since my mom died, I have grown so much more than I ever imagined.

For the first time, I can honestly say that I love myself and who I’ve become.

I love all of menot for my body, but for who I am and what I bring to the world. It’s true what they say about needing to love yourself in order to be loved in the way you deserve. It never made sense to me until now. I see it now. If you don’t love yourself, you won’t see your worth, and you’ll settle for a life far below what you’re destined for. Happiness starts within, and the happiness that came into my life since I realized this is far beyond my comprehension. While I still struggle with my body, and probably will in some ways forever, I’ll continue to love myself first.

My eating disorder may have started before I was born, but it doesn’t own my worth and never will again. I do.

Originally published on the author’s blog

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Britney Longarzo

Britney Longarzo is the mom of three kiddos, newly a birth doula, and can usually be found wrapped in a cozy robe (even in the summer). Britney writes about all things #momlife on her blog, Birth Boobs and Babies. She has also been featured on Scary Mommy and Pregnant Chicken. You can follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and her website birthboobsandbabies.com.

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