"I won't eat. I'm scared to. If I eat then I don't know what will make me different enough for people to want to notice me. If I eat then I'll be like everyone else."
This is from my journal/food diary from 10 years ago, back when a "good day" meant eating part of an apple and half a graham cracker and nothing else. It made me cry- remembering how I deprived myself of even the simplest of life's pleasures. If I didn't deserve something as small as that, it's no wonder I believed I didn't deserve happiness/love/beauty.
If I could, I'd go back to that time and tell my younger self a thing or two. I'd show her the scars. How they've healed enough to where no one notices them, but that I remember making them, and I remember the darkness and the cold and the fear.
To my 18 year old self,
You're worth caring for, even on days when you don't feel it. Those days will be fewer and less frequent, even though they may seem endless now.
Do something small for yourself every day. It makes doing things for other people a joy instead of a burden. You have a big heart, and you'll be too exhausted to open it to others until you open it to yourself.
It will be extraordinarily difficult- mentally and physically. No one warns you about that. You'll be gaining what seems like a lot of weight. You'll have days where your reflection in the mirror will bring you to tears, or even into hysterics. But those days will be fewer and less frequent. (You'll like your curves someday, I promise.)
You're stronger than you give yourself credit for. And smarter. And more brave/beautiful/loving than you know. The sooner you start taking care of yourself the sooner you'll realize this. Take ownership of those qualities. You cultivated your own character.
People will notice you.They'll see your kind heart. They'll see love. They'll see generosity. They won't care about your impossible goals for physical perfection because these goals ultimately won't matter. At all. This pursuit of control will only bring you pain, so let it go.
You're going to be so happy, and sooner than you think. But you can't get there until you decide to start on that path, and when you do, I'll be there.
I love you, even though you don't (yet).