My Peace Treaty
(This anonymous piece was developed by an individual in recovery in response to a therapeutic assignment on writing a peace treaty with her body.)
I want to stop fighting. But I’m not giving up, those are two different things. Giving up means giving in. It means being controlled by thoughts and feelings that were never meant to have more than a passing presence in my life. Giving up means continuing to be trapped, scared, and exhausted because every day is a fight that can’t be won. Giving up might as well mean dying because it wouldn’t be a life worth living. So, I’m not giving up. I’m surrendering. I’m offering peace, love and most of all grace to end this battle I have waged against my body and my mind and my life for years. I want to stop fighting so I can find out who I truly am and let that girl start living.
Wars happen for two main reasons: you’re either protecting something you love, or trying to gain something you desperately want. For me, this war started because I desperately wanted to be worthy and loveable, and my body held the key. Every new behavior was my weapon and every pound was a win. At least that’s what I thought. The more I fought, the war zone became my comfort zone. It kept me safe. Because when you’re fighting against yourself, no one can hurt you more than you do. You’re untouchable. But life isn’t meant to be lived in a war zone, so now I desperately want out.
I want peace. I want to wake up in the morning with a quiet and nonjudgmental mind. I don’t want to be afraid to look in the mirror or pick out an outfit. I don’t want to be afraid of mornings, I want to cherish them because instead of waking up to battle, I’ll be waking up to live. And while I’m living, I want to be free and open and happy. I want to be free from feeling inadequate. I want to know and believe that my worth isn’t something that I need to earn, because I’m just as worthy of love and belonging as I was the day I was born. No weight or calorie count or exercise, no grade or major or career, no relationship or title or group, nothing can make me more or less worthy. Because when I believe that, I won’t be so afraid to be myself. I won’t be so afraid to follow my heart to the things that make me excited and happy and fulfilled rather than the things that make me look smart or successful or adequate. Right now, I don’t know what those things are, but I’m ready to make peace with myself and find out.
I want love. I was once told you can’t ask others to give you what you don’t believe you’re worthy of. And you can’t give to others what you don’t have. I’ve spent the better part of my whole life trying to make myself loved by others, but the truth is nothing would have ever been enough because I never believed I was worthy of love. I was never able to accept that someone could love me, because I didn’t love myself. So, I want to stop the fighting and start loving. I want to love all the little, invisible traits that make me the quiet but loud, smart but ditzy, logical but creative person that I am. I want to love the world around me. I want to notice all the lovely things and hold tight to them. And mostly, I want to be able to love the people around me because I finally have love to give. I want to have the energy and capacity to make sure the people in my life know that they matter, they are loved and they aren’t alone. I want to be able to encourage people in their lives and walk with them through it, instead of being too blinded and exhausted by my battle against my own life. I don’t want to fight for love anymore, I want to be open to the love that was always there.
I want grace. With myself and everyone around me too. Because with grace, the world really isn’t so scary. Mistakes become lessons, endings become opportunities, differences become strengths, and darkness becomes a way to see the light. With grace, I will live knowing that my worth and my love really have nothing to do with me at all. It is my heart, not my behaviors or successes or failures, that allows me to be worthy and loved more than I could ever know.
So, what do peace and love and grace look like practically? It’s not being afraid of mirrors, showering, sleeveless shirts, shorts, and swimsuits. It’s not planning out meals a week in advance and having a panic attack when plans change. It’s spontaneity and flexibility with food and life. It’s balance. Eating healthy but also just eating something for no other reason than I want to. It’s not having a day ruined because my coffee was made with cream instead of milk or too much sugar. It’s not noticing what or how much/little everyone around me eats, because it only matters that I’m giving myself what I need. It’s not judging my weight against every other person in the room. It’s exercising because I want my body to be healthy and able, not because I have to. It’s stopping and resting and not constantly pushing myself to my limits. It’s feeling. The good and the bad, and admitting what I’m feeling to other people. It’s finding a career that makes me happy, regardless of the paycheck or status. It’s picking me and what I need first, instead of what will make everyone else happy. It’s knowing who I am, what I like and what I don’t, and not being afraid of what I find. It’s being unapologetically happy and excited or sometimes unapologetically sad and angry. It’s honest and authentic and simple and free. It’s finally living.
So, to my body, I’m sorry I made you a battle ground. I’m sorry I made you weak and tired. I’m sorry I didn’t treat you with love. And to my mind, your negative thoughts are no longer allowed to make a permanent home in my life. I know I can’t control what thoughts you bring into my space, but I will not let your thoughts control me anymore. I have given you too much power over me, I let you name me. But not anymore, because thoughts are just words and words are just sounds and sounds really aren’t so scary. And to my life, I’m sorry for burying you in the rubble of this battle. As the fighting ends and the dust settles, I will find you and I will bring you out into the light, because you are a life worth living.