“You have to eat buddy……please……You have to love yourself enough to eat and get better you can’t keep hurting yourself”
Those were the words I heard as I made my way down the road towards what had lately been the only place on earth where I felt I had control over my life. It had been 7 days, it’s hard to remember possibly 8 or 9, since my heart had been told things were never going to be the same.
The sadness came in waves and the only way to combat it was to hop in the car and head towards the 24-hour gym to work it out. I had come up with a rule for myself that if I was sad for more than an hour, I had to move my body until I felt better again.
For a while, this meant working out three times a day and doing yoga a few times as well. 8am, 12pm, even 130am…..it didn’t matter what time of day it was if I felt helplessly caught up in emotions I would take action and gain some control back.
Even with all the working out for some reason I couldn’t seem to muster up any appetite. 400-700 calories per day were the norm for me now.
The daily scolding from my FitBit, telling me the 4,000 calories I was burning at the gym was unhealthy because of my calorie deficiency. Over and over these messages letting me know that I was messing up my health and my body. “You need to eat more calories” FitBit would message me with it's cold heart.
But I couldn’t.
So on this day, I heard my own voice talking out loud in my car. I say it was my own voice but to be honest it was different than I had ever heard it before. It had the tone of my mother, sitting there in the grass with her 7-year-old son at the next door neighbor’s house begging him to come home instead of running away.
It was the most loving voice I had ever heard, and it felt as though I was outside of my body. Tears streaming down my face as I pleaded with myself to stop punishing my body and to love myself as I’ve never loved anyone before.
“If you are ever going to truly love someone you’re going to have to love yourself with everything you have and that means you need to eat, today, and start being kind to yourself”
I ended up at the Deli in Union, one of my favorite places in the world, taking a few moments in the car to wipe my face of the tears and “look normal” as best as I could.
My voice trembled a little as I mustered up all the energy I had to not cry as I ordered breakfast. I had never been here on a weekend morning and thought it would have been busier but I pretty much had the place to myself for a while.
Every bite was a struggle.
I didn’t want to be here, I didn’t want to eat this, I just wanted to go somewhere and cry. I kept thinking to myself “one more bite, you got this, one more bite” and it took every ounce of my concentration to continue to eat.
I’m glad nobody I knew came by, the smallest hello or wave, or worse off, a “how are you doing” would have brought me to my knees. Somehow, I was allowed to be there by myself(s) and work through the breakfast until the last bite was taken.
There was an overwhelming sense of relief and exhaustion when I finished. I sat there looking at the bowl with what I imagine is the feeling someone has when they’ve finished a long marathon. The sense of pride slightly muffled by the sheer exhaustion.
Walking out to my car I could feel as though things had changed. I had always seen myself as one person but now realized that there was this kind loving soul that was a Sheppard in my life.
The struggles, the joy, the pain, and anything else I experience in my life would never be experienced alone.
I would always be there for me.
I would always love me.
For the first time in my life, I not only truly loved someone, but I was also loved unconditionally by someone.
My first true love.
***edit this occurred about seven weeks prior to me writing this. I appreciate the calls,emails, and texts asking me if I am ok. I am at a much better place in my life right now and I’m doing well thank you for the love ❤️