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  • Chelsea Leigh

Drowning in the Belief: "I am Not Enough"

Updated: Oct 25, 2019

I came into this world very reserved, afraid, sensitive beyond measure. "I am not enough," "I am fat," "I am abnormal," were just a few ways I identified myself as early as the age of three. I remember always comparing myself to the girls in my pre-school class, especially physically. Thoughts of "Her hands are smaller than mine," and "Her voice is sweeter than mine," swirled in my mind every single day. I remember, at three years old, going to a halloween party with my gymnastics team dressed as Baby-Bop from Barney. When my mother was getting me into the car, I noticed my reflection in the door and refused to get in the car or wear the costume because "I looked fat." It wasn't until recently that I linked the thoughts of my childhood to the monstrous eating disorder that nearly lead to my demise at the age of 17. For 15 years I identified myself as "fat" and "abnormal" and "not enough" and those destructive thoughts created dis-ease in my mind and body.


It was the summer leading into senior year of High School that I sank into the depths of my ocean of self destruction. My light had been dimmed by the possession of a vicious eating disorder. I felt myself slipping away from life. I felt myself sinking deep underwater. Minutes, hours, days, and dreams were spent searching for ways to shrink myself, searching for ways to escape reality, searching for ways to feel like I was enough, and acting on all of them.


I was drowning, and no one could save me. I pushed anyone who loved me away. There was a part of me that wanted to leave this Earth. It was the part of me who felt that my existence wasn't enough, that I wasn't enough, and that I would never be enough. It wasn't until I became so physically weak, that the sweet, gentle, voice of my intuition started to show up. Or, maybe she was there all along and these moments provided me the space to hear her. Oh, how the memories are flooding back.


I remember the night I was working at the pizza shop, three years into the job. As I struggled to cut through a pizza, my boss walked over and said "You need to put some meat on those bones." I remember exploring the town of Skippack, PA, with my family one morning. It was rare that we could all be together. I felt so weak, that I was looking for a place to sit wherever we went. I could not focus on anything other than the crippling reality that I couldn't walk or stand without feeling like I was going to collapse, and how to hide it from my family. I remember falling to my hands and knees, starry eyed after performing a tumbling pass that I had practiced for years. I told my coach that I was experiencing a mental block, and she looked at me as the words "I think you need to get stronger," poured from her mouth. I remember spending a week at the beach with my Grandmother, continuously expressing how cold I was. She told me that I wouldn't be so cold if I had some meat on my bones. I remember walking into school in the beginning of September with blue finger nails, and goosebumps, getting lost in the hallways that I walked in for three entire years. I remember deteriorating.


It was in each these weak, helpless, moments where I heard her soft whispers.

"Why are you doing this to yourself, Chelsea?"

"You are going to die."

"You need to get help."


I surrendered to this angelic voice coming through. I asked my Mother if I could start seeing a therapist, and three weeks later I was at the Renfrew Center of Philadelphia receiving an evaluation for residential care. They could not take me in for treatment until my heart rate normalized; this shook me, especially as I had been consumed by the thoughts of "you're not skinny enough," and "you're not sick enough." I were to chose between life or death, sinking or swimming. I cradled my abnormal beating heart in the wings of my intuition, and loads of potassium, and nursed her back to balance so that I could receive residential treatment a week later.


Three weeks of my precious life were spent at the Renfrew Center of Philadelphia, and in these three weeks my life was saved. I was not "cured", and I was not recovered, but I was provided with the tools to keep swimming. I was offered a tiny glimpse into the strength that buried itself deep inside the inner most layer of my being. I spent eight consecutive months in and out of treatment, but I never gave up on myself. I never gave up on my willingness to live. I was on a mission to find the light, however, unconsciously I was still haunted by the thought that I was not enough.


After many months in treatment, and years of committing to my relationship to food, it became a very healthy one, and I thought I was "recovered." What I didn't realize, however, is that the eating disorder eventually disguised itself in many forms other than food; alcohol, stimulants, sex, work, toxic relationships. I was still unconsciously numbing myself and searching for a reason to feel like I was enough. I was reaching for every external outlet, to fill a void that was deep within myself.


& that is just it. When we are so deeply wounded internally, we must go within ourselves to see the wound and heal it from the inside, out. When we reach for external validation, or external comfort, it serves as a temporary bandaid. It was when I allowed myself the space to look within, that these bandaids gently removed themselves, that I witnessed the core of my wounds: the thought that "I am not enough."


It was when I allowed myself the space to look within, that I began to float into the loving light of this sacred, shining sea.





Sinking, sinking, sinking.

"Drowned for years, I'm alive again."


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