My daughter Carsten has struggled with anxiety most of her young life, most recently involving weight and self esteem issues. 13 is a hard age, fitting in and finding yourself during the awkward years of puberty. Add in social media pressure, mean girls and bullying and I’d be surprised if she wasn’t struggling to find her place in the world.
Dealing with her self esteem has been a delicate balance for us, with me still finding my footing in the first years of recovery from an eating disorder.
Carsten didn’t learn of my history until after she started having her own issues. I made the decision to share the worst part of me, in the hope that it would save her. I’ve spent hours answering her questions and listening to her thoughts and I’d be lying if I said I haven’t sometimes worried that my honesty has done more harm than good.
A few months ago I suggested Carsten start writing in a journal. This past weekend she asked me if she could read an entry out loud to myself, my sister Cara and Cara’s girlfriend Sara. The following is what she read:
(I got her permission to share this.)
Every time I think about my body, it’s a struggle, like I can’t fully talk about my body without breaking down and calling myself fat or something. What I have realized is that fat is not a feeling, I feel something else and that is worth figuring out.
When I think about what I want to be when I grow up, I want to be a nurse, but I also want to be HAPPY.
What I have to learn is that I am ENOUGH.
I am BEAUTIFUL.
I can beat overeating. Doing it is hurting my body and wanting to fix it is the first step to getting better.
Feeling beautiful and like you are enough might come easily for some of you, but it took me 35 years to figure out that I mattered this much.
The beautiful moments of parenting don’t always exist in those times when your child makes the honor roll or scores a goal, sometimes they lie in the moments when your child faces adversity and decides they are strong enough to overcome it.