Updated: Jul 26, 2019
Dear Emmanuelle, my younger, less confident, obsessive, caring too much self,
Firstly, I want you to know that everything is going to work out. Anything you're worrying about now will long be forgotten in the future. You will have time for every experience so stop trying to grow up so fast. You're probably really struggling to find your 'place' in the world right now and you're slowly discovering who you are, what you value and the sort of person you want to be. Be kind to people and show compassion because that is the greatest gift you can give to another human being. You throw a lot of tantrums and you're a little bit over sensitive, that won't change, although you'll desperately try to. Know that you can be anything you want to be - trust your instincts and don't let anyone tell you that your feelings aren't valid.
You may be really struggling to exist in a world that wants you to be skinny. You'll think that the only way boys will like you and you'll find happiness is if you're a dress size smaller and you have a perkier bum and bigger boobs, but you're wrong. You'll treat your body with hatred and disgust for a long time and it will rid you of part of your youth. You'll miss out on the drunk house parties because you're petrified of the calories in alcohol. You'll skip lunch with your friends to sit on your own so that you can eat your salad in peace rather than surrounded by temptation. You'll do a million sit ups between every meal and scrutinise every mouthful. You'll loathe yourself after a biscuit and vow to never eat chocolate again. All you want is a thigh gap and hip bones that poke out. You'll get your dream eventually but it will cost you everything. Year 11-12 will be the most difficult for you. You'll cry yourself to sleep stuck between wanting to be skinny and desperately wanting this addiction to end. Somehow, you find the strength to change. You won't want to let go at first. You'll treat anorexia as your comfort blanket and slowly let it wrap you up safe sometimes. With love, support and courage you carry on in recovery even though your heart isn't 100% in it and eventually, you'll want to be recovered. It isn't easy so be prepared. Have the knowledge that one day, you'll be able to sit at a Lana Del Rey concert completely immersed in the moment rather than worrying about how tight your skirt is because of all the food you've eaten. It won't feel within reach at first - you've forgotten what it feels like to pick something up and eat it spontaneously rather than weigh the calories and compensate for it with running. It feels so far from normal. You will have to re learn everything you've taught yourself about fearing food and idealising thinness. It will take a long time, much longer after you're officially recovered but each day will teach you something new about yourself and the world. One day you'll reach out to people who have suffered the same and you'll build friendships and help one another. You'll educate people on anorexia and help the sufferers understand their feelings and it will feel so great to be the person that was never there for you. I promise you Emmanuelle, that you will recover from anorexia and you will live life to the absolute fullest and never take your situation for granted. You'll be forever grateful for the lessons that anorexia taught you and the relationship you have with yourself will blossom and you'll cherish your body and it will fascinate you how wonderful it really is. You'll also find your passion for writing in recovery. You'll write down all your thoughts in your journal and soon they'll mature into poetry and blog posts that you absolutely adore writing. You'll experience moments of insecurity later on in life, sometimes you will sink into that dark hole again, but you always manage to lift yourself up, stronger than ever.
Most importantly, know that there are endless amounts to value in yourself other than your appearance. Acknowledge your intelligence, your imagination, your creativity and your kindness. Don't place so much emphasis on how you look. Your skin will clear up, you don't need to wear makeup yet and please for heaven's sake, don't pluck your eyebrows so thin!!!! But seriously, you don't need to be beautiful to exist and be happy in this world. Don't try to mould yourself into something else. Embrace your natural self and let that be enough for you. Plant that knowledge in yourself early on so that it will always guide you. Just because everyone else is wearing makeup and getting boyfriends doesn't mean that you have to. Trust yourself and stop caring what everyone else thinks.
During recovery you discover your motivation to feel whole again. You befriend an amazing group of girls that taught you that you don't have to be skinny to be loved or successful. You'll laugh like never before and you'll enjoy going to school each morning to see them. It will fascinate you that they eat lunch so normally without thinking about it and it will teach you to do the same. You owe your happiness and recovery to those friends. They'll always support you and will continue to later on. Most of those girls will be your best friends many years later. You might not speak every day and you may feel distant sometimes but every time you see them it will transport you right back to those early days where it felt like you'd spent years by their side. You'll support each other through heartbreak, loss, success and everything in-between. You'll lose some friends along the way and you'll make new friends out of the blue. Be thankful for each friendship because they taught you something. Sometimes you simply outgrow people, but don't be afraid to let them go and flourish. Some people are only meant to fit into your life at a certain time but looking back, it was all for a reason. Some people enter your life at the exact right moment and fill a gap you didn't even realise you'd been missing. You'll make new friends through your blog too and it will feel like such an achievement to reach out and resonate with people. Particularly, you'll befriend one girl who messaged you once about your blog and thanked you for helping her, she will become one of your best friends and the person you message when you're sinking into anorexic tendencies - she will save you. Be kind to all of your friends and be there for them when they need it, no matter the time or how many times. Love one another unconditionally but if you find that feeling and effort is unreciprocated then don't feel guilty for cutting that cord. Surround yourself with positive, uplifting, happy people that bring out the absolute best in you and want your success and happiness as much as they want their own. Grasp every memory and cherish it. Take photos and write moments down that you don't want to forget!
You'll also fall in love. It will be completely surreal. It will transcend every other feeling you've ever had and everything you thought you knew about love. It will happen quick but feel ever so natural. He will be the light of your life and you will fall so so deeply into his midst. It will come at exactly the right moment - when you have fallen in love with yourself and when you're prepared to share that love with another. You will feel safe to share your dreams with him and when he returns his, you're mesmerised by his voice and his thoughts. All you want to do is hear his mind and savour every thought he shares. You've never loved anyone, so this is entirely new and simply the best feeling you've ever had. You feel like sunshine around him. He'll even feed you your first McDonalds in years and believe it or not, that is a big deal to you. Sadly, it there will be a time you have to leave for university and move across the country just as your love began to blossom. To your surprise, you manage a 3-year long distance relationship. You accidentally tell him you love him on the phone. It will be unbelievably hard sometimes and you'll curse the world for being so unfair. You'll cry yourself to sleep because you just want to spend the day with him. The most important thing you will need to remember is to communicate clearly - always communicate how you feel in a polite, clear and loving way so that it never gets misinterpreted. It will be desperately unfair that you can't just kiss and make up after an argument, but he'll make you feel so loved every day. You'll support and reassure each other from a distance when you can't be there to comfort and motivate each other in the flesh. You'll share moments like in those early days where you exchange dreams and thoughts and it will feel like you're right there lying next to each other. Don't get jealous. You may feel jealousy when people are spending time with him and you physically can't. You may feel sad that you're not experiencing the same memories with him and you'll miss him when you're doing something fun without him. However, you will both grow independently and have important time with yourself to experience life. So far, he won't break your heart and at the end of the three years, you'll come together ready for an eternal life together.
At the end of sixth form you'll be accepted into Newcastle University. You and your best friend when you were younger used to dream of the day you went to university. You'd finally be adults and escape little Suffolk. You'll fall in love and find yourself. You'll find your happiness. All your brothers and sisters went to university so you feel like this will be the time you'll truly find 'you'. In truth, you had a strong sense of self long before you went to university - anorexia taught you that. Your high school philosophy teacher will tell you not to choose Newcastle because it's 'too big' for you, but he was wrong. You will fall in love with Newcastle and journalism. Surprisingly you're not scared, you're ready. You'll feel a little out of place at first trying to find your feet surrounded by thousands of new people and a new city to discover. It will take a while to finally come out of your shell. I'd say that half way through second year is when you finally find your feet and begin to think of Newcastle as home. You find a new group of friends who are more suited to you and you find the confidence to be who you really want to be. You'll spend some of your happiest days at university. You'll have the most amazing experience of getting to have a sleepover with your friends every day! You'll cry, eat together, laugh, stay up all night and argue with them - like a real family. Each person you meet will teach you something new. Not everyone will suit you and that's ok. Don't try and change or mould yourself differently to fit in with people, just be you and be proud of that. You won't always love university - you'll miss home so much you can't breathe. However, third year will be your best year yet. You'll find another beautiful friendship through a group project and you'll know that you want to be friends with these girls for life. They're all so different and each has a quality that you desire, motivating you to be better. You're still struggling to get to grips with the work in second year. This will be a time to experiment with what you're good at and what you enjoy so don't be disappointed that your grades aren't great because you'll discover what you don't like, and you can eliminate it. In third year, you'll put all your effort into doing well. You try so hard to truly understand each subject and it will pay off. You finally get to produce a magazine which is your future career goal and you'll love it. You do great. You'll finish with a 2:1 and a 1st in your dissertation! You've always tried your very best to succeed and you always manage to get through it no matter how stressed or insecure you feel sometimes. Have the confidence to admit that you're pretty great. Don't be afraid to admit what you're good at and use it! Don't hold back when you have an idea. Put yourself out there. The only way you will learn, and grow is to push yourself out of your comfort zone. It may take you a while, but you will achieve it. Your boyfriend will be a major factor in motivating and reassuring you to try more and be better than yesterday. Find things that inspire you every day and focus on who you want to be tomorrow and work towards that.
You will also welcome into the world 2, nearly 3 additions to the family. They will show you a love like no other. You will fall in love with the tiny humans and know the first moment you see them, that they hold some magic that will captivate you forever. Don't forget to visit your grandparents every day because they love you dearly. Depend on grandpa when you need advice - he has the power to make everything seem clear and you'll know the right route to take. Always say sorry to your parents and always tell them you love them even when mum is pissing you off. Surprisingly, she has pretty good advice so confide in her and listen to what she says! Your relationship with her will come to one of friendship rather than motherhood which is lovely. As for dad, he will drive in the night to Tesco just to get you ice cream, so even when he's winding you up, remember that.
Right now, you're thankful for the memories and experiences you've gained. You fall in love a little each day. You cherish your friends and you remain as close to them now as ever. You're certain about who you are and who you want to be in the future. You're happy in yourself. You know your worth. You know what you value, what you like and what you're good at. You feel whole. The future is unclear because there are so many opportunities awaiting you. Don't be nervous. Grip life with both hands and run headfirst. Have faith that things will come to you. Know that you have everything within yourself to succeed, find happiness and create the life you want to live. Don't lose sight of your dream and your kindness. Always treat people with kindness and put your happiness above anything else. Choose happiness over success. Choose people that make you feel like sunshine. Let yourself grow each day. Be open to criticism. Don't feel guilty. Don't let anyone tell you that your feelings aren't valid. Don't let anyone tell you that you're oversensitive. Carry on writing and practicing every day. Learn new words to create beautiful sentences. Don't let injustice slide. Educate people. Love hard and openly. Develop an interest in the world and the arts and the people in it. Be present in every moment and appreciate everything you have. Feed your dreams. Believe in yourself. Accept failure but don't let it damage you. Use your voice. Choose happiness.
I love you,