HOW I WAS ABLE TO OVERCOME THE BULLY IN MY HEAD AND MAKE PEACE WITH THE MIRROR.
I want to dedicate this article to all people suffering from eating disorders, lack of confidence and low self-esteem.
Happiness is our birth right, never give up on yourself!
by Federica Ferro, Founder TDC
I was born and grew up in Molllia, a very tiny village in the mountains, where everyhing is still as pure as the air you can breath.
I was a very happy and content little girl, who loved to play and be free.
One of my favourite games was playing with Barbie and making her incredible dresses using old pieces of fabric my mum used to find for me.
It was quite obvious that fashion and beauty represented a natural interest for me, so as soon as I grew up I started to buy, read, cut and dream on the pages of Vogue magazine.
It was the time of Super Models and my best friend and I used to know all their names, play fashion walks and improvise photo shooting using vintage dresses from my mum.
Regardless of the awareness we had (NOT) on our body image, we were just 2 young teen age girls genuinly having fun and occuping our time.
Soon enough I started to notice that piers at school and family friends started to “have an opinion”about me, and since -as all teen agers- I was striving to find an identity, it seemed very easy to stick to “being pretty”.
And as much as this was clichè, it worked quite well for a while.
I got silently used to people’s eyes and addicted to validation based on my appearence to measure myself in the social environment.
Being a girl, it seemed it was just all I needed to be accepted.
I knew I had much more to give but at that time and at that age I really had no idea how to express it and I cared too much about people’s judgments, so I just tried to be nice to everyone in order to be loved.
I remember clearly the first time I looked myself in the mirror and started to criticize what I used to call “my bags”, aka some subtle lines of cellulites around my bottom and ankles.
And those hair that never wanted to fall the way I wanted.
And then anything I could use to put myself down as it was just feeling easier to play that sick game rather than owning my own light.
I had no awareness that I WAS CREATING A BULLY IN MY HEAD.
THE RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD
My relationship with food depended completely on my mum: the source of healthy and nutritious meals since I was born.
No processed food. No artificial flavors, extra sugar or sodas were ever allowed at our table.
She has always been very conscious about health and this is definitly one of the most important teachings she gave me.
As soon as I was living independently though, I started to allow myself more of what was usually limited or prohibited.
At the age of 22 I moved to Paris, where I was really alone facing the big world and all the consequent challenges.
Without realising, I started to use food to cope with my emotions and the situation went completely out of control.
For the first time in my life food mattered: I was indulging into everything I possibly could, especially sugars and fats.
I couldn’t leave a dish without finishing everything on it but most importantly I couldn’t finish a meal without feeling disgustingly full and completely numb.
It was painful feeling this way, my body was completely poisoned and I was starting to see it as a problem but couldn’t help it.
I would eat a lot even if I wasn’t hungry and sometimes so fast that I could barely register what I was tasting.
I also could never finish a meal without having something sweet.
On certain days I could eat at no hours and mainly sweets. I particularly remember one day feeding myself just with croissants.
One night, thinking breakfast cereals were a better option than croissants, I served myself a cup, then another, then I took the entire box and finished it all, piece by piece, staring at my window in trance until the only thing I really wanted to do was vomiting.
And I actually tried. I went to the bathroom, I looked myself in the mirror, feeling in pain, guilty and disgusted once again. I thought I really wanted to take it all out of my body and maybe this was going to be the solution to my problems.
But I couldn’t do it all the way. Head down in the toilet I guessed this wasn’t really an option for me, since one of my friend in high school became anorexic and I certainly didn’t want to take that road.
My parents ascertained I was putting on weight, they asked me why and if everything was ok and all in a sudden I felt like my entire life was threatened: I was shaking inside myself thinking “will they still like me?” “what if I am not pretty anymore?” “Will I loose their love and attention?”
I was pretending everything was ok but for the first time in my life my body image was changing and so was the relationship with myself.
And I didn’t like it AT ALL. So the less I liked it the more I was eating. The more I was eating the more I was hating myself and feeling depressed.
The more I was hating myself, the more I was using food (and cigarettes) as punishment.
From that moment all I could say when I was looking myself in the mirror was “I am disgusting”: my face was too big, my skin full of spots, my belly too swollen, my body just fat.
AWARENESS IS THE GREATEST AGENT FOR TRANSFORMATION: TIME TO HEAL (AND GROW)
After the cereal episode I started to be more present to what was happening to me, I was questioning the reasons why I would want to stuff myself so much and what the void inside me represented.
I couldn’t really find satisfying answers but at least I was trying and while I wasn’t relying on my appearence anymore I had to start gaining confidence from within.
In the mean time I was trying to control myself as much as I could, but overeating was just the perfect solution I had to cope with all the negative emotions of being on my own.
This compulsive disorder- also known as binge eating disorder- went on and off for several years more.
What I was telling myself when I was looking in the mirror represented the the measure of how confident I could feel when facing the world.
One day my mirror told me my belly was swollen and I looked ugly.
This time, instead of being a victim, I went to a yoga studio and started my first hatha yoga class.
That gentle way of breathing prana in my body was the first step towards connecting with my true self.
Later on, I woke up to see that I had, once again, a form of cystic acne on my face.
I never suffered from acne but some strong episodes started to appear when my relationship with food went wrong.
I tried to treat it with local creams and antibiotics but the healing was just temporary.
I couldn’t lie to myself anymore:I knew that this was the symptom of something coming from deep inside and I was really tired of all my mood swings and weight yo-yo.
So instead of going to see a dermatologist, I went to see an alternative therapist (a kinesiologist) to put some order in my vulnerable heart.
It was time for me to heal (and grow).
By the law of attraction when you start focusing on the solution instead of the problem, the problem disappear and a whole new world is presented to you.
After all those feelings of hate, pain and insecurity, my journey to Self Love, Self Acceptance and Self Confidence had finally begun.
It started with small things, like buying fresh flowers for my home every week.
Then I went food shopping in an organic place and started to fill my cupboards with rice cakes, quinoa, soya milk, brown rice and all sort of wonders I had no idea how to cook but was so keen to learn.
For the first time in so many years I became active again, practicing some cardio excercise at least twice per week and yoga, who became the best partner for my inner and spiritual growth.
Diet and Sport activated my brain to work in a constructive, positive way again.
My body was feeling healthier, stronger and in better shape than ever before.
Practicing yoga, I started to be conscious of my body from the inside out, from the dimension of inner awareness.
Breath became the bridge that started to connect my mind with my body and my soul.
But that was still the beginning.
The general sense of increased wellbeing I was experiencing activated and expanded my natural interests.
I then started to read LOTS of books about energy, self empowerment and spirituality and begun to push the boundaries of my mind beyond my education and what I thought was possible.
I started to write journals, drawing, painting, attending workshop and following my curiosity wherever it was taking me.
I was starting to enjoy life in a complete new way, being PRESENT to myself in a more accepting and loving way.
Food was never an issue anymore.
On the contrary one of the thing I keep enjoying the most in life and the most prescious alley to energize my body and keep it young.
My appearence was never a prison anymore. On the contrary my opportunity to love and RESPECT my body, for what it is and what it is not.
Loneliness was not a feeling to suppress anymore, but the extraordinary opportunity to get to know who I was and who I wanted to be.
This experience has been very painful for me and so it’s been digging into those emotions again to be able to share them with you today so openly and sincerely.
Today, I look back with so much compassion and gratitude for everything those years have thought me.
This has been for me the biggest opportunity to awaken my spirit, to take responsibility for myself and to become the aware and confident woman I am today.
Today I hope that my story will inspire you, man or woman, wherever you are in life, to always choose LOVE and RESPECT for yourself.
REMEMBER: EVERY WORD YOU PUT AFTER “I AM” WILL SHAPE YOUR REALITY and you only are the creator.
What we see in the mirror (with extension to media and social media) is a mere reflection of a small part of ourself.
This reflection is just an illusion and this illusion is created by our EGO.
WE (all of us with no exclusion) are a divine alchemy between MIND, BODY and SOUL.
It is up to us to dig deeper into our hearts and choose to LOVE AND RESPECT this WHOLE.
Smash the Mirror is now a mantra I use every time I catch myself falling into narcisism or self abuse.
I hope that it will inspire you to do the same and that you’ll keep looking for your True Self.