Guest Post: Marie Therese Batt
Marie Therese Batt is a statistic. She is one of the 1 in 4 women who battled an eating disorder in her 20’s. unlike many though…she found life outside her struggle and has since made a life and career out of inspiring countless others to do the same. She is a sister in recovery.
Recovering from anorexia was one of most challenging experiences I’ve ever faced. And it’s not because I wasn’t strong. Actually, I was super fierce in my resolve to not eat and to not get fat. Every night before falling asleep, I’d count calories instead of sheep, to make sure I hadn’t “overeaten” that day. I look back at that time, and I marvel at my will power – how on earth did I willfully put myself through that?! And what’s more, how did I overcome it?
But anyone with anorexia can relate. Recovery has little to do with eating, and everything to do with shifting your mindset, and using your strength for good, instead of destruction. It’s all about creating new beliefs about yourself, and this is the hardest part!
What made matters worse for me was that I had a very independent, stubborn streak. Even after I’d admitted that I was anorexic, and that I needed to address it, I still resisted the help that I’d personally sought out. And I kicked and screamed (internally) against the professionals who were trying to guide me toward recovery.
They could see that I understood what I needed to do to get well, but that I was also conflicted in my resolve to get better. I was like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
At one point, my psychiatrist gave me a photocopied page of something called “The Personal Bill of Rights.” I’d never seen this list before, but I was intrigued. Or at least, my stubborn, independent side was.
It was a list of 27 rights that help you to recognize your own worth again. I think it’s commonly given to abuse victims, but it was perfect for me. After all, I was also abusing myself via anorexia.
The list contained rights like, “I have the right to ask for what I want”, or “I have the right to be treated with dignity and respect”, and “I have the right to say no to anything if I feel that I’m not ready, it’s unsafe, or it violates my principles.” And as soon as I read through all of them, something clicked inside me. I liked them, and I felt energized by them, and I knew that these rights were mine.
They really spoke to my independent side, but unfortunately, that same independent side was still a slave to my anorexia, which shouted back: “Don’t tell me what to do!” Even though I knew I needed these rights, I wasn’t ready to give up my anorexia, and all the pain I’d gotten used to.
And that’s how it is – when we’re in the throes of an eating disorder, it’s hard to flip the switch, and make steps in the opposite direction, toward love, respect and wholeness. It’s so opposite to what we’ve come to think and feel, and it honestly feels unnatural and even wrong.
Nonetheless, I credit this list for helping me move from anorexia to wellness. Even though I couldn’t accept these 27 rights immediately, I always kept that photocopied sheet nearby. They were my reminder – that gentle nudge, pushing me to claim these rights, and take ownership of my life.
They reminded me of all that I could be, and everything I could do if I made the choice to do so: I could make decisions out of freedom, instead of fear. I could still be strong and bold, but instead of being destructive, I could be loving toward myself.
And that’s what we all want, we want to take charge of our lives. It’s just that when we do this via anorexia (or any other eating disorder), we control from a place of fear, which only brings more and more negativity into our lives. But when we take ownership from a place of love, we stop controlling, and instead, we start cultivating positivity.
Overcoming anorexia is never easy, and if you’re anything like me, you don’t want anyone telling you what to do, or how to recover. But as much as you’re resolved to be anorexic, I want you to ask yourself, “Am I having any fun?”
I know I wasn’t, and slowly, by engaging with these 27 rights, I really began to live a fuller, healthier life. In fact, I liked these rights so much that I wrote my first book about them!
The underlying battle in my recovery wasn’t just about fighting against an eating disorder.
It was about deciding that I was worth my own love and care. It was about allowing myself to be happy and healthy again. It’s about seeing this one, irreplaceable life as something I was allowed to enjoy.
And the same goes for you, too! If you struggle with an eating disorder, loving yourself, or believing that you’re worthy of a beautiful life, I want you to know that you are worthy of an amazing life, free from eating disorders, and from fear, and from all the troubles that come from not loving who you are.
If you’d like to dive deeper into each of these 27 rights, and if you’d like to create a life you’re excited about and proud of, come check out my book, “The Heiress Project: Every Girl’s Guide to Reclaiming Your Worth and Creating a Life You Actually Want.” It’s all about taking your life back from fear, and filling it way up with love, and that’s when life becomes truly yours.
Marie Therese Batt’s is a writer and blogger at www.marietheresebatt.com. Her work focuses on empowering women to love who they are, and to change the way they view themselves. Her own struggles with anorexia nervosa and depression are the catalyst and inspiration for her writing, which has given many women the support and encouragement needed to change their thinking and their lives.
Marie is passionate about travel and learning, and some of her notable experiences have been graduate studies in literature, as well as living abroad in Germany. Marie currently lives in Italy, where she enjoys eating with the locals at little trattorias. Check out her new book here!
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