You may already know that I have had an eating disorder for a good chunk of my life. I usually just say I’ve struggled with ed stuff since I was 13, so about ten years. I look back on my early teen years, right after I was “diagnosed” with anorexia, and it’s like I am peering through a window at my younger self.
There was a period of time where I had no idea who I was, or what I was supposed to be doing. I guess I feel like that now too, but this feeling was at thirteen and fourteen…I really wanted a job, or something to live for. I looked for places to volunteer, because anything below the age of 16, it’s hard to find someone to hire you. I volunteered at the local public library for a long time, and naturally, when I turned 16 there was a job opening and I was chosen to gill the position. Finally, I had a job!
I don’t remember the exact timeline…a few years later, I was offered a full-time job working upstairs at the library. I was unsure at first, as the job would entail cleaning the library after hours, and working 4o hours each week. Eventually I came to the conclusion that I couldn’t turn this job offer down, and I took it.
I remember working Monday nights, and bringing a baggie of Cheerios along to eat by the handful. I remember this particularly well, because I denied myself dinner every Monday (always being at work made this easy to hide), and spread my snacks thinner on the first day of the work week. I doubt anyone ever knew this, and I actually forgot about it until a year or so ago. I remember drinking mugs of horrible Folgers coffee, and feeling sick. I remember toting loads of diet soda in and slurping on it throughout the day.
I also remember the long hours. Over this year’s Labor Day weekend I had several weird dreams, and one morning I woke up realizing that though I had a 3-day weekend, I had to go back to work. I was surprised to find that I was excited about going back to work at the coffee shop. I had a flashback of how I had cried several times when I was overwhelmed while I worked full-time. I felt as though I never had a day off, and that I couldn’t stay up too late, because I always had to get up early in the morning.
Working full-time seemed responsible, but I see now how detrimental it was to my health and mental well-being. Since losing my job and working less than 40 hours a week, I find myself naturally feeling freer. I get off early in the afternoon, so I can go home and relax, read, do household chores, etc. I love my co-workers, and would basically do anything for them, and I know that they feel the same way about me. I can actually read now, and not be overwhelmed and feel as though I have no time. I can have a lazy day where I sleep in multiple times per week. I recently wrote this piece on rest, and what the notion of rest means to me. I wouldn’t have been able to write that piece, or this, had I continued to work full-time.
I used to feel so guilty for taking a nap, reading more than I thought I “should”, wasting time on running errands…everything. I know that it’s not only working less hours that has helped, but also a change of mind, but I can’t really see myself working full-time again. And the great part? I don’t have to! I was a bit worried about money and finances when I was fired, but almost a year out, I see that I am being provided for. Another perk of working less is the part where I get to spend more time on myself and with my husband! I have been caught up in the web of self destruction for years, and though I am still struggling to break free at times, I am working towards freedom. I couldn’t do that at my old job. Not only did I not have enough “me time”, but I never appreciated myself and my talents. I also never felt appreciated.
A year ago I was stressed, anxious, and overworked. My mind was always full, mostly with negative things. Today I am on an antidepressant, my mind is functioning fully, and I am feeding myself. I am also feeding my soul. I see such a huge difference between myself today, and the me of 2015. I never thought I could feel as good as I do now. I hope that my words will help someone, or multiple someones, take a step towards bettering you. That might look different for you than it does for me, but really think on it. As my therapist told me last week: your life is an experiment. Adding or removing jobs, actions, self talk, meditation, an exercise routine…that might be what it takes.
Above all, through all of life’s changes and struggles (losing my job certainly wasn’t fun or easy, eating dinner on Monday’s was hard to implement at first, worrying about money doesn’t go away overnight) I am learning that whether I like it or not, I am worthy. I am worthy of taking time, of spending money, of eating foods I love. You are worthy too.