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In my opinion, there are few worse feelings in the world than the feeling of guilt. That along with a sense of worthlessness (the two of which often go hand in hand) are the two emotions which usually cause the quickest and most intense downward spirals. Guilt is a consuming emotion. One which does not stop halfway. It attacks full force, taking no victims, shooting from every angle. Guilt dismantles a human, breaking them down and stripping them of every sense of worth and happiness. I hate the feeling of guilt but unfortunately, it’s a feeling I’m used to.

For months of my life, I used to get stomach aches after every single meal. Everytime I ate a meal or even a snack, it was instantly followed by an ache so intense I could not tell if I was still hungry or if it was something I ate that was making my stomach recoil. At some point I realized it was neither. I realized that the pain in my stomach was actually guilt. I can’t remember how I figured this out or what led me to believe it but when I did, the pain stopped. Well, mostly. There were and still are days when the pain returns and lingers. But when I accepted the root of the pain, it was easier for me to understand how to fix it. See my relationship with food has never been anything short of complicated. The most abusive relationship I have in my life. And when I ate, whether it was a piece of celery or a bowl of ice cream, I felt like I had betrayed my body and that mental turmoil translated to physical pain. But see, I also knew that without food, I would be unable to live in body. I was grateful for everything that my body did for me, I really was, I still am. I just wished it looked different.

The guilt that I was feeling was followed by an even greater feeling of guilt for feeling so down on myself. It was a vicious and futile cycle, of hopelessness and hope, chasing each other down but neither one ever catching the other. I would feel guilt then think of a way to make up for it. I could skip the next meal, or go for a run. I would do whatever it took to stop the feeling of guilt but of course nothing I ever did actually helped. It wasn’t until I really let myself feel my emotions that the pain started to subside. I let myself feel the guilt but then I also told myself how ridiculous I knew it was to feel that guilt.

Listen, I know I’ve said this in other posts but it remains true: that I do not think I will ever be completely at peace with my body. I have given myself scars that will remain there forever and I have to see and feel those scars every day. For the most part, I have overcome that guilt that remains deep in my belly like a lurking animal, ready to attack its prey. But it still comes back. And that is okay. I know that healing is not linear and I still have hope that one day I will be completely healed of my hurt. Until then, I have learned to cope with the flares of guilt that I feel. Methods like writing my feelings down, talking positively to myself in the mirror, drawing etc. have been life changing for me. I encourage everyone who feels confused or guilty to find their own methods of coping but nothing will really change until they reach out for help and acknowledge the validity of their feelings.

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