Everyone has their demons. Here is the shadow of one of mine.
What kind of self-esteem are we born with? Is it whole, innocent and pure at the start? And with experiences it is chipped, and broken into tiny pieces that we try glue together as adults.
Moments like the time in kindergarten that you notice that your crush was more interested in that you knew how to play chess than what color of shirt you wore. Or in 3rd grade when you read better than anyone in your class. Or remembering that in one point in your childhood, no one cared about your looks. No one raised you to be a cute princess. You played legos and hot wheels with your brother. You didn’t even realize what you looked like.
Until you did. Because people noticed for you. You are not like the other girls they said. You were bigger. You eat like a boy. You had the build of a boy. You’re dark but you stay inside all day? Your teeth are not perfect? They’re just baby teeth how can they not be perfect? Why are you not thin? When I was your age I weighed 60lbs. You weigh twice as much as that! But you’re in 5th grade. When I was your age, I was a dancer. When I was your age, I was skin and bones. When I was your age, I didn’t look like you.
So then you adjusted, they had a point right? At your age, you should be thinner. At your age, you should look different. Maybe you’ve been focusing on the wrong things. You do read too much. You don’t move when you read. You don’t lose weight when you play video games. Maybe if you lose weight you’ll be like others. Maybe you’ll fit in better.
What is a calorie? What is a carb? Carbs are bad for you? Two rice is over kill? How about no rice? What if you just eat one bite at a time? Oh my god food is so good, why does it feel so bad? Exercise burns calories. It’s scientific fact. Maybe if you start exercising you’ll get thinner. Maybe they’ll stop talking about you. You kinda hate it when they talk about you. They never cared before… why do they care now?
So if you eat one pandesal for breakfast and skip lunch, you’ll be thin right? Maybe you crush will like you. Maybe everyone will like you if you’re thin. You’ll just skip lunch. You don’t need it anyways. Meals are optional anyways.
After school you should play DDR. DDR burns calories. I hear if you burn 3500 calories you’ll lose a pound. Maybe you should aim for a pound a day. Oh! You can play DDR for at least 2-3 hours a day. It’s feasible. You eat a pandesal in the morning and soup at dinner. That’s enough. You’ve fainted twice. But it’s normal for girls your age to faint.
Oh my god you did it! You’re 100 pounds? How do you feel? God it’s so nice to be a size one right? And for your age, that’s amazing. You look amazing! You should keep this up! Everyone wants to know your secret. How did you do it? They hope you keep doing what you’re doing. Maybe if you keep going you’ll reach your goal weight of 80lbs.
But you can’t. You’re moving again. You moved again. You’re in a different school again. Everyone is different in your school. You don’t have DDR. No one is looking at you. No one cares about what you look like anymore…. so you can eat what you want? Oh yes! As long as you do pilates in your room for 2 hours every night. You can’t undo all that hard work!
But no one cares… why don’t you just do what you love? Don’t you love learning? Don’t you love reading? Go back to what you miss. It’s okay. No one really cares. No one looks at you anyways. No one loves you. Even thin people can be ugly. Look at you. You’ve had braces since 5th grade. You’ve had glasses since birth. You don’t fit the norm.
It’s okay. You moved schools. People like you for your personality anyways. You’re the ‘nicest’ person in class. The nicest, shyest person in class. You’re nice. You’re smart and hey! Maybe even guys like you for that. Heck, you even like yourself for that. Go you! The nicest, smart girl in class. Who cares? You are accepted.
But you moved again. It’s weird. Again. You don’t understand everyone. It’s okay. You still believe you’re the nicest, smart girl in class. And maybe the guy you like, likes you for that. You can hold a conversation nicely. You think you’re intelligent. That is more than enough for you. That is what you have to work with. That is what you take pride in.
The glasses come off. The braces are gone. Your depression shaved off any weight you gained in high school. Things have changed. People look at you like they never have before. People are complimenting you with words that you don’t hear.
Omg ang ganda ganda mo talaga! Seryoso! Ang ganda mo! Ano ba talaga ang secret mo? Ang galing mo magmakeup no? Makeup ba yan? Bakit hindi ka tumataba? Parang mestiza ka! Chinita ka ba? Half ka ba? Seryoso? Full filipina? Pero sabi mo Fil-Am ka. Edi, American ang daddy mo? Hindi? Alam mo ba? Pwede ka pang Miss Pharmacy! Bakit hindi ka magpageant? Diba ang ganda ganda ni ____? Pinaka magandang babae. Omg crush ka ng sister ko! Bet kita, alam mo ba yun?
It sinks in. You have changed. This is a… good thing! You’ve never felt this way before. You’ve never been known this way before. This is amazing. This is different! Is this what it’s liked to be like for who you are? Is this what it’s liked to be… popular? It’s not bad. You like it. You like it so much that you believed it was who you were. But it wasn’t.
Parang… tumaba ka… na-iba ang itsura mo. Hoy! Tumaba ka talaga! Totoo na to. Wag kang masyado mag extra rice! Ang takaw mo talaga! Diba nag diet ka? Edi ano yan? Bakit kain ka ng kain sa instagram? Ang taba mo na! May problema ka ba? Kasi tumaba ka sobra. May diet tips ako para sayo, effective sya. Wag ka na mag snack, ano ka? Nagaway ba kayo ng boyfriend mo? Kasi parang nagstress eating ka. Stressed ka ba sa course mo? Diba dapat papayat ka stress? Anyare? Hoy wag kang mag elevator! Magoverload na tayo! Hoy! Joke lang yan!
Alam mo ba… ang ganda mo sana kaso mataba ka. Sayang lang. Ang ganda mo sana. Sana.
You don’t know how to feel. Everything was a lie. A sham. Do you need to hit rock bottom to feel that? You dug a hole when you believed the lie that you were beautiful. You break down. You try to crash diet. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. You lose 5 pounds, then gain 10. You’re furious at your lack of self-control. You hate yourself. You feed off of people’s compliments that you lost weight. You are dependent.
Then you get pneumonia. And you lose 15 pounds. And you like it. You’re walking death and you like it. You’re sick. You’re almost as sick as you were as a child. Sick in the mind. But now, you’re aware of your sickness. You’ve fed it.
You’re toxic. You feel it in your bones. On the scale. In your loved one’s eyes. You’re sick. Can you get better? Maybe you should try. You could have died and you liked it… because you looked good? Is that who you are now?
You scale back. You stopped talking about your weight. You stopped crash dieting. You ate when you needed to. You exercised because it was a thing to do. You stopped looking at yourself so much. You stopped pinching all the places you need to lose weight.
You start reading again. You read a lot. You read articles, you watch videos. You learn about the world. You learn about yourself. There are words that describe your sickness. You found your demons. It’s even more than your body, you realize. It’s deeper than anything you could think of. You start waking up in the middle of the night and read. You read about your inner child. You read about how terrible you treat yourself. You read about how you have a broken self-esteem. You read and read. And cry. A lot.
You cry about all the broken parts of yourself. Broken when you were a child. Parts of yourself that you didn’t know were broken in the first place. You cry almost every night. For months. You read and cry. You talk about it when you felt safe and cry. And then you realize. You are more than your demons.
You rebuild yourself. One piece at a time. You read and learn about how you feel about the world. You read about how you think about yourself, your family, your feelings. You think and rebuild. You think and you heal.
You’ve been healing for three years now. You retrained your inner voice. You learn every day about the person you want to be. But this is you now. This is the person you need to be. Every day is different. Sometimes you relapse, and your demons grasp and you asking for you to feed them with dark thoughts. Some days, you find inner solitude and peace. You’re less hard on yourself. You surrounded yourself with people who appreciate the way you look, but not let it define you.
You realize, you have glued your self-esteem back together. You went back and glued each piece one-by-one.
You’re still looking for all of the pieces… but you look down at your chipped self-esteem and say to yourself… you can be beautiful by being you. Please love yourself.