Forgive yourself– it was never your fault in the first place

Sitting in the group room at my first treatment center, the air was heavy. I felt as if my fragile body would be crushed by the weight of shame and guilt that permeated the very room where healing was supposed to happen. All 30 of us carried thousands of pounds of undeserved blame– no wonder we thought we were fat.

See, people with eating disorders are very good at being blame sponges. We take on responsibility for other people’s pain, other people’s problems, and our family’s disfunction (often times without being asked or forced to). The kicker? Most of these things are not our fault, and were never our responsibility to begin with.

So why, then, do we take other people’s pain, problems, and disfunction out on our bodies? The answer is simple: it’s an easy fix.

When we are sick, our loved ones are hyper focused on getting us better. When we are sick, other problems seem less significant. When we are sick, our illness and behaviors are the perfect scapegoat for other people’s stress, anxiety, and anger. When we are sick, we take on all the ugly so our loved ones don’t have to.

However, this “fix” is like trying to put a bandaid on a bullet hole. It may stop the bleeding for a bit, but the issues are still there.

If you carry years’ worth of blame for things that were never your fault, I encourage you to let it go. You are good. You are pure. You are deserving of love, happiness, health, and respect. Forgive yourself, if that’s what it takes, to put the shame in the past. However, if you were never at fault to begin with, you really don’t even need to forgive yourself now, do you?

It took me a very long time to come to terms with the simple fact that I am not guilty of most of the painful things I blamed myself for. Even though my family assured me I was a good person and did not deserve the high levels of shame I felt on a daily basis, I had to believe that I was innocent. When I finally got there, I felt like my life had only just begun.

I still think about the women in that treatment center room. I wonder how many of them have found freedom, how many discovered their innocence. The day I declared myself free of undeserved blame, I shed thousands of pounds of emotional baggage and watched my body image completely transform. All 30 of us carried thousands of pounds of undeserved blame– no wonder we thought we were fat.

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