10 Real Reasons Not To Restrict

One of the blog posts in my archive that most consistently gets hits is 10 Real Reasons Not to Self Harm. I’ve had multiple people tell me that it was a useful post for them in some way, and I’ve found myself referencing it when I’m feeling really crappy and I need some reminders from my slightly more stable mind about why I shouldn’t self harm.

Lately I’ve been feeling some urges to restrict again, and so in the spirit of 10 Real Reasons, I want remind myself and others what actually sucks about giving in to eating disorder temptations and restricting your food intake.

1. This might seem super obvious but it’s really easy to forget when you’re in a serious restricting place. Food tastes good. Not only that, but it’s hugely comforting to eat a warm meal or to have something that reminds you of childhood or a good time in your life. You’re denying yourself something that’s super fucking awesome by not eating. I know you probably know that, but I just thought I’d mention it.

2. Most people who restrict heavily like to try to convince themselves that not eating doesn’t actually affect their energy, mood, or thought process. Let me just take a moment to call bullshit on that because physiologically there’s really no way for you to have a good level of energy and clear thoughts when you aren’t giving your body and brain enough calories to fuel them. When you eat food you can do more stuff. Stuff like creating great art or being with the people you love or fighting the patriarchy or whatever the hell it is that makes you happy.

3. Do you know how painful it is to sit on things when your ass is bony? It’s very painful. See also: hugs, leaning against things, sex, cuddling, and interacting in any way with the world. Don’t starve yourself. You need the extra cushioning. It makes the world less hurty.

4. You can lie to me and tell me that you’ll feel worse after you eat. And yes, it’s true you might feel guilty or anxious. But there’s this thing called biology and that means that when you don’t eat your mood tanks. Have you ever seen a cranky toddler? Have you ever tried giving that toddler food and seen them suddenly become perfectly fine? We are all the cranky toddler. Eat the food. Feel better.

5. Do you know what people do when they want to be together? They eat. Food is social. Food connects people. Food is how many people express care and affection. When you don’t eat food, you are cutting yourself off from other people, whether you intend it to be that way or not. That is one of the suckiest things about restriction, and it leaves you feeling pretty shitty.

6. Here are some scary facts: when I stopped restricting my ring size, shoe size, and boobs all increased slightly. Do you know what kind of malnutrition it takes to shrink your feet? The kind that will eventually kill you. Keep your feets and hands the sizes they were meant to be. Don’t starve yourself.

7. Restricting may seem like it’s ignoring food, but it usually comes with obsessive thoughts around food. Your life shouldn’t revolve around food. There are a thousand other things you could be doing with your life than thinking about food and worrying about food. Even if you’re avoiding food, you’re still using up a lot of emotional energy and willpower, as well as causing some serious decision fatigue that will mean you’ve got less reserves for every other thing you need to do in your life.

8. Do you consider yourself a feminist? Do you think women should be equal to men, or shouldn’t have to feel all sorts of unnecessary pressures to be beautiful? I’ve noticed that the more the people around me buy into the ideas that they need to eat less, they should be quieter or prettier or more conventional, the more I feel pressure to do so. Even if you think that you’re only impacting yourself by restricting, you’re sending a tacit message to all your friends and acquaintances that you think you should be living by the patriarchal laws that tell women to be skinnier, quieter, less, smaller. You’re taking up less space when the strongest thing for a feminist to do is stretch out and take up as much space as possible.

9. I want you to imagine that your best friend wasn’t eating on a regular basis. Would you ever tell them that this was a good plan? No? Why are you treating yourself worse than other people? It can be incredibly hard to accept that you deserve the same care that other people do or that you’re allowed to take care of yourself (we’re all supposed to just self-sacrifice constantly and hope someone else takes care of us right??) but if you think extreme restriction is bad for the people you love then you gotta accept it’s bad for you (and also start including yourself in people you love).

10. It’s so fucking boring. Jesus christ is restriction boring. It’s lonely, it’s exhausting, and you end up sitting around just staring at walls for most of your life (with some extra crying jags for funsies). Planning your life around NOT doing something is actually the stupidest thing ever. Imagine instead planning what you DO want to do. It’s so much more interesting! You actually do things! You leave your room! You engage with the world! It’s great. I don’t think I’ve ever felt less interested in the world than when I was restricting because my world was entirely sitting around fighting with myself about whether or not to eat. Bo-ring.

Musings on Mental Health Activism

In a perfect world, all people would have a basic understanding of mental illness and respect that it is very real and painful. In a perfect world, if someone disclosed their mental health status and said that it affected their decisions and life, other people would respect that without requiring evidence, gory details, or an exact explanation of how serious it really was (are you sure it wasn’t all in your head?)

Alas, this is not the world we live in. Disclosing mental health status often comes with a round of questioning and well intentioned but utterly unhelpful suggestions (have you tried exercising?) that can quickly put one on the defensive. I personally have felt pressure when writing about my mental health to engage in the “just how bad was it?” defensiveness, pre-emptively listing out symptoms and consequences to illustrate that no really, this needed to be taken seriously.

Nearly every article I read about mental illness feels the need to either specify that depression is a serious illness (if it’s a scientific or research based piece) or take a large chunk of its time to describe the internal experience (if it’s on the subjective side). There’s certainly nothing wrong with that impulse, and subjective descriptions of mental illness are incredibly important to increasing awareness and understanding, but almost never do I see someone write about an experience they had that was influenced by their mental illness without focusing heavily on symptoms and vivid, graphic descriptions.

This makes sense to some extent, but it seems odd to me that we cannot have mental illness be an influence in our lives without going the extra distance to explain the exact details. In the world as it stands, there is not enough understanding of mental illness to mention it as a factor without making your statement/article/conversation about mental illness.

Here’s where I get hung up.

As someone who wants to increase understanding and awareness of mental illness and mental health issues, as someone who is aware of these dynamics and the ways in which stigma against mental illness contributes to the requirement that mentally ill people prove how hard things are for them every.single.time, do I proceed by molding myself into the Good Depressed Person and patiently describing over and over (in the level of detail required by my listener to really understand) what it’s like in my head? Or is there something radical in simply letting myself say “I am depressed and that led to x, y, or z” without backtracking, explaining, or questioning myself?

There may be space for both of these options in the world of mental health activism. It’s easy to see how speaking openly about the internal experience of mental illness is part of activism. It very clearly increases awareness and understanding, and can help others respect the seriousness of a mental illness, as well as the fact that it is not a choice or a lifestyle. There are downsides though. I worry that making personal stories a constant factor in every discussion of mental illness sets an unhealthy precedent that people’s stories are required to be public. I worry that we’re painting a picture of mental illness that feeds into certain romantic notions of things like anorexia, while playing into the voyeuristic pleasure some people get in hearing about disturbing and graphic symptoms. I see this especially in discussions of self harm when the questions immediately turn to how deep, how often, where, pics.

It might be that having both tactics is the best choice so that we can continue to educate others about mental illness in a serious way while also recognizing that sometimes it isn’t the only or overwhelming factor in an individual’s life. Sometimes it’s just a part of life, like a twingy ankle or allergies. It gets in the way, but it doesn’t destroy.

Again, ideally, this could be a great way to move forward in activism. The problem comes with the lived experience of trying to mention your mental illness without defending it. People push. People overlook it. People argue and debate and yell after you’ve said you’re triggered. People invoke all the stereotypes of mental illness that you’ve been working so hard to fight against (lazy, taking the easy way out, not trying hard enough). These things, even if you know that they are unwarranted and are ignoring a very real factor (mental illness) hurt.

I don’t think anyone is obligated to always educate others when they talk or write about their mental health. You’re allowed to say “this thing triggered me, which relates to the rest of what I’m talking about in ways x, y, and z” without having to explain how your triggers came to be, what triggering looks like for you, and exactly how real and serious the experience was. I just don’t know how to let people do that while protecting them from the less informed folks who will take that as an opportunity to berate them for not liking triggery thing, or for not being able to cope with a situation, or whatever the case may be. And I don’t know how to recognize that people 100% have the right not to explain themselves while also knowing that these incidents might not help the larger aims of mental health activism.

This is the forever balancing act of oppressed groups that want to make things better. In order to gain the rights and treatment you know that you should have, you often need to play by the damaging rules of society as it is, putting you in a place to get hurt and perpetuating those same rules. How radical can we be in acting as if the world had already accepted us? While it might be idealistic and forward thinking to expect everyone to know about mental illness, does it actually do anyone any good when it comes to securing rights and reducing stigma?

There are no clear answers here about the “right” way to approach discussions about mental health or activism, but I wish we knew better how to help improve the world around us without making ourselves so vulnerable.

No, This Is Not How To Raise Awareness

Ugh. Ugh ugh ugh. Eating disorder coverage has been getting better in the past few years. I’ve seen stories covering orthorexia, binge eating disorder, bulimia, and EDNOS, as well as some that include the oh so shocking fact that eating disorders don’t just happen to people who are skinny, and sometimes they’re not motivated by weight loss, dieting, or models.

So I was deeply unhappy to see this art series that purports to draw attention to eating disorders but is exclusively composed of skeletal Disney figures. Sure, it’s great that it includes men and women of color, but there is such a small percentage of people with eating disorders who actually look like that, whose BMIs have dropped down into the “you need to be hospitalized” realm that I can’t help but feel that it just limits our perception. Beyond that, it perpetuates the horrible, horrible idea that you can diagnose a mental illness by seeing how skinny someone is.

Newsflash: eating disorders are not defined by someone’s weight. Weight is actually one of the smallest components of diagnosis (there are lots of other criteria! And lots of different disorders! Some of which include NO weight component!)

It is not outreach or advocacy to continue to portray eating disorders in stereotyped ways. This is not helpful.

For real information on what eating disorders are and what they’re like, try NEDA, Science of Eating Disorders, or just check out my back log of blogs tagged with “eating disorders”.

Cross Cultural Eating Disorders

It’s commonly held knowledge that eating disorders are a Western phenomenon. They came about because of beauty standards, small models, and photoshopping. They’re on the rise! Panic! It’s an epidemic!

Only this isn’t necessarily supported by a hard look at the data. One of the problems with assessing whether or not eating disorders exist in other cultures is that the diagnostics for the disorders were developed in the US and Western Europe, leading to a focus on the presentations that we tend to see in those places. As an example, one of the diagnostic criteria for anorexia is “Intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat, even though you’re underweight.” While this is the motivation for many people to refuse food, it is not true of everyone who displays many of the symptoms of anorexia, and may simply have different motivation.

There are a few different sources of data that contradict the idea that eating disorders are culturally bound or that they are caused by Western beauty ideals. We can look at history or we can look to minorities or other countries that may not have been wholly influenced by Western concepts.

Historically, we have strong evidence that people have been choosing to starve themselves for hundreds of years. The book Fasting Saints and Anorexic Girls traces the history of self starvation from the earliest records through to the first recognition of eating disorders as psychiatric conditions. While the book suggests that these are distinct phenomena because in the past few people have practiced self starvation due to a fear of fatness, behaviorally it shows many parallels.

One particular group of individuals that have similar behaviors to modern patients with eating disorders are religious fasters. These tended to be young women who had little control over their lives in many ways and who chose to abstain from food for extreme periods of time in order to be morally better by ignoring their bodies and focusing on their spirits.

The book includes some quotes from people who chose to restrict their food intake in times past, and concerns about morality, space, selfhood, and perfection come up again and again, just as they do in current conversations about eating disorders. Many of the experiences are couched in religious terms, but the underlying fears (“I am not good enough”, “there is something wrong with my body”, “I need to be better”, “I don’t want this life”) could just as easily be pulled from a study of eating disordered patients today.

Individuals throughout history have chosen to abstain from food, often falling into something like depression and priding themselves on their ability to go without for long periods of time. Their motivations have changed as their social milieu has changed, going from religious, to entertainment, to aesthetic. However many of the sentiments that these individuals express ring similar across time and space.

“It’s like I never knew what self-respect was all about until now. The thinner I get, the better I feel . . . I’m proud of my stoic, Spartan existence. It reminds me of the lives of the saints and martyrs I used to read about when I was a child . . . This has become the most important thing I’ve ever done.” This kind of quote could easily be from a religious faster or a modern individual with anorexia.

Over at Science of Eating Disorders, Tetyana posits “Religious and spiritual reasons are not the only factors that could be contributing to AN in non-Western countries (or Western countries before the ‘thin ideal’). Personally, it would seem to be, that anorexics in those times, would just attribute their desire for weight loss to those reasons much like today it is often attributes to a fear of being fat. But, both of those could just be post hoc rationalizations on the part of the sufferer, to make sense of their otherwise perplexing desire to restrict their intake and lose weight. That’s my feeling.”

I’ve written elsewhere about how restricting food made me feel powerful, godly. I often imagined that my body was not subject to the same requirements that others were. Only the weak needed food, but I decided my morality, my meaning, and my body for myself.

“Comparable to the ascetic practices in the history of Christianity are the fasting practices in the Chinese Daoist tradition (Eskildsen, 1998). These practices sought to transform the body as a means of gaining immortality…  The history of Chinese thought thus suggests that, in certain traditions at least, the emaciated body has been highly valued and pursued in a manner highly reminiscent of Western observances.”

But in addition to historical examples, we can also look at current cases of eating disorders in non-Western countries. It’s a common trope that these are rare, and when they do appear they are evidence of growing Western influence in the country. The problem with that assumption is that many individuals who might be diagnosed with an eating disorder but lack fatphobia are not given the diagnosis. The unthinking assertion that the rise of eating disorders correlates to increased Western influence doesn’t look at the lived experiences of individuals in non-Western countries.

Again, from Science of Eating Disorders:

“For example, one study found that in British Asian girls, dietary restraint was correlated with traditional (rather than Western) values (Hill & Bhatti, 1995). This finding was supported in a study by Mumford and colleagues (1991) who essentially found the same correlation. On a Caribbean Island, with little Western media, Hoek et al (1998) found that the prevalence of AN was comparable to Western countries and a study by Apter et al (1994) showed that a group of village Muslim women (with minimal exposure to Western values) had eating pathology scores that were indistinguishable from patients with AN.”

Many of the patients quoted in this article don’t talk about a strong desire for thinness or weight loss, but point to their bodies as the site for other struggles in their lives, particularly around control and selfhood.

“… food restriction arose from a sense of powerlessness in the family context, it is possible that the patient experienced her emaciation as egosyntonic, with her low body weight consonant with the goal of not wanting “to ‘give in’ to her family, especially her mother, who forced her to eat even when she was not in a mood to.”

Again, these individuals exhibit many of the same behaviors as individuals diagnosed with eating disorders in the Western world, but don’t show the obsession with thinness or fatphobia that we assume is an essential part of an eating disorder.

An eating disorder is a coping mechanism that allows an individual to survive extremely difficult situations or feelings. Physically, it has effects that make it easier to live through strong emotions: it numbs out painful things, it leaves you sleepy and sedated, and it also provides a kind of high that makes you feel accomplished and safe. These are biological results. They are the same no matter where you are or when you’re living. And they are effective at helping someone survive a difficult situation no matter what kind of difficult situation that is: it could be not living up to religious expectations or not fitting into a beauty ideal.

And so I am continually dismayed at ridiculous articles like this that seem to think eating disorders are not only limited to the West, but also limited to young, naive, shallow teen girls who can’t figure out how to do basic things like feed themselves. Diagnosis, demographics, and etiology are complex and confusing. If you don’t know a little something about mental health, don’t write about it.

Words: Yes They Do Have An Impact

People suck at talking about mental health issues. Oh sure, there are some people who have taken the time to educate themselves who know not to use “OCD” to mean “neat, tidy, type A”, but the media as a whole is just not good at portraying mental illnesses as real, serious, and illnesses rather than choices. More often than not, writers rely on a few stock phrases to describe mental illnesses. And more often than not, these phrases are misleading, reductive, or flat out wrong. There have been a plethora of examples of a few of these recently, and I’d like to highlight two that are damaging and overused.

The first one caught my eye after an odd kerfluffle involving a pair of Victoria’s Secret models. One commented that she would never have a body quite like the other’s and that she thought the other was beautiful. Not too outlandish of a thing to say: even models have some insecurities and compare themselves to other people. The response? “Accusations of anorexia”. Sorry what? Accusations? This is somewhat akin to saying “accusations of having pneumonia”. Grammatically it sort of makes sense, but in the actual ways that we understand the word “accusation” it implies some weird things about anorexia. Namely that it’s a choice, that it’s something bad or wrong, that it’s something offensive and you should feel ashamed of it.

It’s a phrase that gets bandied about fairly often, as if anorexia were some sort of character flaw that we should all be above. In discussions of “skinny shaming” (a phrase that should have its own post), naturally thin people often comment that they are accused of having eating disorders because of their body type. It makes sense that no one would want to be told they have a mental illness if they don’t. It implies that you need to change or that there’s something wrong with you. More often than not, it’s impossible to convince the world otherwise if they already believe you have a problem. That sucks. Of course it does.

But having someone mistakenly think that you’re ill is not the same as being accused of something, and using that wording does a huge disservice to people who actually do have eating disorders. It tells them that their disorder is something they should feel some amount of shame over, something they shouldn’t be open about because it’s clearly still seen as a choice or a character flaw rather than an actual illness. The phrase often perpetuates the idea that people with eating disorders are all skinny and that you can identify them on sight, because it’s most often leveled at thin people with no other evidence of an eating disorder beyond “you’re really skinny”. Very rarely is someone “accused” of having an eating disorder because they express unhealthy or damaging attitudes towards their body.

Other ways of phrasing this idea might not be quite as succinct. “Believed to have an eating disorder” doesn’t come across in nearly as dramatic a light. But it is more accurate, and that means that it’s preferable. The way we talk about eating disorders contributes greatly to the perception of them and whether or not we see them as serious. This is an extremely easy adjustment to make that can help decrease the stigma around eating disorders.

On the other end of the spectrum we have the endlessly overused phrase “battling depression”. In my Google alert for depression today alone I saw three articles that used this phrase in their title. There are probably times and places to use the word “battling” when describing someone’s relationship with depression. There have definitely been times in my life when I’ve felt as if I’m waging a war inside my own mind. But it should not be the only phrase we can come up with to describe an illness. Especially because depression is not always incredibly active in someone’s life, even if they do still have it, the phrase “battling” can be misleading about what it’s like to live with depression. Sometimes you’re surviving. Sometimes you’re struggling. Sometimes you’re being beaten up by your depression. Sometimes you just have it.

Of course it’s hard to have depression, and most people who have it end up fighting back against it in some fashion or other at some point in their life. But not all of us feel like we can do it all the time. Not all of us have the energy to constantly be “battling”, and the implication that having depression is always a battle means that if you aren’t fighting back then you’ve accepted it and you’re not trying hard enough. While depression has started to move past some of the stereotypes and stigmas that still seriously plague eating disorders, we do tend to have a single narrative about it, and it’s rarely one that recognizes the complexity of what it means to experience depression.

We rarely note the fact that people with depression live like most other people, have hobbies, sometimes enjoy themselves, have relationships, hold down jobs, have good days and bad days, sometimes let the bad feelings happen and sometimes work really hard to feel better, just like most other people. They have an additional stressor to deal with, but they’re more complicated than a single trait.

I’m certainly not proposing a complete ban on the phrase “battling depression” but for goodness sakes could we shake it up every once in a while? This is just getting to the point of extremely bad writing, and we can do better.

 

Embodiment

Eating disorders are about bodies. Duh. They’re about fat and losing weight and body image and skinny models and photoshop. Wait, what? That’s not right. Eating disorders are about the experience of being in a body, the limitations and lack of control that being embodied necessitates. Much better. I’ve been wanting to write about this article at Science of EDs on embodiment for quite some time, but I haven’t known exactly what to contribute beyond “yeah, that!” The article looks at a study of embodiment in which participants rated how much they experienced their body externally, through the feedback and sight of others, through objective measures, or through physical ways of controlling their bodies. Unsurprisingly, high scores on these measures were correlated with eating disorders.

When I read this, I felt a resonance with these experiences and questions: yes, what drove my eating disorder was a feeling of discomfort with having a body, an inability to imagine how my “self” fit into that body, a confusion about how my body actually fit into people’s conceptions of me, and a kind of certainty that the only time I really was in my body was when I was doing something to it or with it. But embodiment has always meant more than that to me. Having a body means you will die. That’s a pretty basic fact at this point in time (although there is the potential that through technology we will change it). Having a body also comes with a variety of limitations: you can only be doing one thing at a time, be in one place at a time, you are bounded by temporality and space. Even if you’re a highly capable person who can probably accomplish nearly anything they try, your embodied nature says that you can only try a limited number of things.

Bodies, and particularly bodily functions (like eating) are a constant reminder of these facts. For much of my life, I have not been able to stand being present in my own body (aware of my senses, my location, my body) because it was so limited. Some people are able to accept these limitations without struggle. Some people don’t find that being in a body is a constant reminder of their miniscule nature in the entirety of reality. But many of the people that I have met who also have eating disorders are the kinds of people who have been told their whole lives that they can do whatever they put their mind to, that they can do so at a high level of accomplishment, and that they can change the world. The perfectionism that this breeds hates limits, even ones that are utterly reasonable (like not being able to live forever).

Some people have certainly wondered why those with a high drive for control and perfection choose their bodies as the realm on which to enact their personal battles. The experience of embodiment as mortality and limitation gives a good window into this connection. It might seem that the whole world is not within our control, but the most basic level at which we have no control is the fact that we are embodied, our bodies do things we don’t want them to, we can get sick and die, and having a physical presence inherently limits the ways that we can affect the world.

It’s quite possible that few other people with eating disorders are consciously aware of hating their body because it represents the fact that they cannot do everything they’ve been told they could; I cannot cure cancer and reconstruct Proto Indo-European and become a bestselling author and be a feminist/atheist activist and play taiko for a living and learn neuroscience and solve the problem of consciousness and star in an amazing TV show. I have to pick and choose, and knowing that I am giving up on some potential opportunity is painful. But even if others don’t consciously recognize that the reason they can’t do all this is because they are physical beings, on some level I suspect they feel it: it comes out in the guttural anger at the body and at the failings of the body, it comes out in the unrealistic expectations of perfection in every way, it comes out in the unnaturally high achievements and the insistence that slack is for other people.

Embodiment might be at the heart of all eating disorders, but not because of bad body image or a struggle to reconcile self-image with the perception of others. Somewhere in there, all of us want to be little gods, capable of anything. Bodies will always remind us that we never can be.

 

Confession Syndrome

There’s a tendency that I have when I’ve done something cruel to myself to want to blurt it out at the most inopportune moments. Sometimes when I first meet people I have to tell them about the times when I went a week without eating, or how it feels to bleed on every object you own because you can’t go a day without cutting yourself. It’s like some sort of disease. Last week at a party I blurted out the story of the most recent time I felt suicidal to a friend, describing the moment in gross detail.

Things are not real until they are witnessed, until they have been woven into words and placed in context. There’s something especially painful about living through trauma silently. You begin to doubt whether it was real, whether it was as bad as it seemed, whether it’s actually a part of you. Every tiny thing you do to yourself is somehow validated as acceptable when there is no one to contradict it. Self harm or restriction or purging is a cruel thing to do to yourself, and appropriately they often come with guilt. If you did these things to someone else, you would feel you needed forgiveness. And so when you do them to yourself, there’s a need to confess and have someone forgive you, let you know that you can continue on.

I’ve started to call it confession syndrome. It’s a way to validate yourself and quickly signal to someone else that you trust them. But it’s cheating. There are absolutely circumstances in which you need to share these stories. They need to be heard and incorporated into your identity and forgiven by you and with the support of the people you love. You need reminders that you are still loved even with the darkest moments of yourself in full view.

But the unthinking moments of blurting out disturbing stories are not the same as honest and open communication that creates a validating environment. Instead, it puts other people in a circumstance in which they have to validate you and have to witness something about you that isn’t necessarily appropriate to your relationship. It bypasses the hard work of actually getting to know someone and shorthands to “we’re close” by disclosing personal information. And because you’ve pushed an interaction into a personal context, you’ve pressured your conversation partner into accepting and being close with you as well: validating you.

Confession syndrome is a horrible way to build relationships. One of the most important elements of trust is seeing how someone behaves over time in a variety of circumstances. You get a feel for someone’s character by doing this. It gives both parties time to increase their vulnerability on a fairly even level: one person might share something slightly more personal, then the other will reciprocate. When you drop a bomb like “I cut myself”, you don’t give the other person the option to reciprocate in any reasonable fashion. It’s a kind of emotional hostage situation: be close to me or else.

Having people in your life that will listen to the times you need to rehash the stories is important. Sometimes they weigh on you and you can’t help but need to say them out loud so that they will stop circling your mind over and over again. But learning how to be a whole human even with all the broken bits is not something to do with that person you just met or at that party while slightly tipsy. It’s for the quiet moments with loved ones. It’s for the places you are wholly safe. It’s for the people that don’t have to prove they will love you through the ugliness.

I’m putting away my confession syndrome, as best I can, moving forward. I have safe spaces to share these stories. I have people that I should tell about the things I’ve done to myself, people who want to know me more fully and who have shown they are trustworthy. These are the relationships that need these stories. These are the people who help me create myself with their narratives and their care. These are the people who want my confessions.