I believe that we all have a purpose.
I also believe that everything we do, every action we take, every person we meet, every opportunity we are given, all of those things have a purpose too, whether or not we can see it at the time.
I was eating disordered for a little over fifteen years – almost half of my life. One half of my life fretting about calories and collarbones and numbers and food and worth and weight. It would be so easy to look back on that simply with regret for the meals missed, the time wasted, the friends lost, the sadness. And until quite recently, that is how I viewed it. Time I would never get back; years and years and years of time.
Now, in a strange sort of way, I am actually very grateful for having had my own particular experience. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without having had an eating disorder.
I am the happiest I have been in as long as I can remember – I am interested in things, I make a conscious effort to learn and grow, I read about mindfulness and I make time for activities I value: reading, writing, yoga. I ask questions of myself. I think about situations carefully before I react (is that what that person meant? Is this how I really feel?). I am more aware of who I am, what I want and what I need.
I don’t think the majority of people DO make time for themselves in this way. They don’t necessarily stop to ask themselves the bigger questions – what do I want from my life? Am I happy? How can I satisfy my desires? – because they haven’t had to climb from that low, dark place, haven’t had to feel their way back up into the light, groping for whatever handholds they can find.
This is not to say they are not content with their lives. But I don’t think content is the same as happy. I don’t want to just be content with my lot. I want to be happy with the choices I have made and the direction of my life. I want to be passionate about things, to enjoy myself, to help others, to learn, to be challenged. I want my life to have meant something. I want to have made a difference, even if it’s only a small one.
As far as the purpose of a human life goes, it’s going to be different for everyone…it might be a particular career or vocation, it might be to end up with a particular person or in a particular place. I feel very strongly that my purpose is to write – even if it only ever ends up being for myself. I never feel more connected, more myself, than when I am writing, whether it’s a journal entry, a poem, a letter or a story. And again, this is something I possibly never would have pursued without my eating disorder. I kept journals before I got sick, but not regularly. I hadn’t written poetry outside English class. And I certainly didn’t work things out on paper in terms of notes and lists and mind-maps (something I find absolutely crucial now).
And slowly, I am finding my feet. I am taking classes. I am regularly writing posts for this blog (and meeting all of you lovely people as a result!). I have started submitting poetry again to journals and magazines, and am getting things published – just little bits here and there, but it’s starting to happen.
I also wouldn’t have gone to therapy if I hadn’t developed anorexia. And therapy has been absolutely, mind-blowingly life altering for me. It seemed to take forever to get anywhere – but then all of a sudden, I was in this place where I could accept, and forgive, and love, and risk, and hope, and connect. I honestly think without having gone through that process, I wouldn’t be as whole a person as I am today. Even if I hadn’t developed an eating disorder, I still would have had an inferiority complex, I still would have felt ugly, not-good-enough, lost. Therapy has taught me to respect and challenge myself, has given me the skills and knowledge I desperately needed in order to overcome the eating disorder and start becoming someone I could actually grow to like.
I never would have had the self-insight I do now without having had therapy, and I never would have had therapy without having developed anorexia. I maybe wouldn't have started writing again without being desperate for a way to channel what I was feeling and express my sadness...which means I wouldn't have been blogging at all, and so wouldn't have found and connected with you amazingly inspiring people.
So you see, EVERYTHING has its purpose :)