Magic: Why Working Hard Is Better (Dear Cookie Monster)

Magic: Why Working Hard Is Better

Dear Ana (age 25),

You don’t get a 2nd letter to answer the writing prompt. It’s my (age 23) turn now.

First off, how dare you?

That’s such a cute picture, you laying out a nice little tea party for us all. Poor you, we all just came in and made a big mess, we don’t appreciate you, we’re ruining everything.

You need to step up and take some responsibility for yourself.

You’re acting like we all are taking possession of your body and making you do things you don’t want to do. That’s not fair. You can’t blame every bad thing that happens on us. I think you also want to binge. You don’t like who you are, what you’re doing with your life, where you are, why you’re there, or how you’re living your life.

Bingeing is how you escape. You’re just as guilty of escapism as the rest of us.

So, now I’m going to answer the writing prompt. (I love how having something to write about makes us not write about that. At least it’s making us write letters to each other rather than just write diary entries.)

What 3 magical and instantaneous wishes would you like? Why is it good that you can’t have them magically and instantaneously?

I’ll do you a favor, Ana, and put in some of your wishes. Some things haven’t changed much since you were my age, unfortunately.

Wish #1: Always weigh X pounds no matter what I eat.

Why I want this wish:

I feel like no matter what, I will always binge. Not purging hasn’t stopped the bingeing cycle (as treatment said it would), it’s just removed any way to get rid of the excess intake. Even when I’m stuffed, I still want to eat more food – this really does not have anything to do with physical hunger.

Being this large makes life more challenging. I already struggle so much with going outside and being seen, going through with commitments, and thinking positively about myself. An increased size adds a ten-foot wall to scale before I can even begin to face down life. Not being this large would just be one less thing to worry about.

Why it’s GOOD I can’t have this wish magically and instantaneously:

Having consequences to bingeing makes me pay attention to it.

When I could just purge everything I ate, I stopped focusing on what made me binge. Now, I have desperation behind my motivation to drive me to explore why this is happening. If I could just eat and be the same weight, I probably never would have started writing this blog, facing rather than pushing down things my past, and reconciling parts of myself that are at war.

I also would never have gained the amount of body confidence that I now have.

It’s true that I refuse to accept this new body as my own and dream everyday of returning to my previous size. It’s true that I dislike this body and disrespect it on a regular basis. However, I’ve come a long way in that department. I have more awareness of how I think about my body and more acceptance.

If I had my previous amount of intolerance, I would have started purging again X pounds ago. Being this size would not have been “worth” the trouble of trying to change my ways. I would have refused to leave my room, and although I still do that a lot now because I’m so ashamed of how I look, I have been able to go outside and interact with people despite this weight.

When I do finally get back down to a healthy weight, it will be because I have earned it through eating well, exercising, and loving myself.

I’m tired of making myself small and acceptable through self-hatred. I want to grow into myself as a strong person who pursues her passions, lives with purpose, and loves herself. That seems so far away, but no longer impossible. Maybe I will never get there, but pursuing that will make my life so much better than remaining stuck in my negative ways.

Wish #2: Make that terrible thing (manic episode / psychotic break) never happen

Why I want this wish:

This was the worst thing that had ever happened to me (and hopefully will continue to be *knock on wood*). My entire life was stripped away from me: school, friends, privacy, dignity, sanity. I had to start over entirely from scratch and Ana today is still trying to figure out how to live her life after that happened.

Why it’s GOOD I can’t have this wish magically and instantaneously (or at all):

That “terrible thing” in a lot of ways was the best thing that ever happened to me.

It made me who I am today, and I actually like her in quite a few ways. She knows when people are not treating her well and she does something about it. She fights back and dreams big. She has perspective, doesn’t take things for granted, and has better values.

The old me was shallow, insecure, meek, a push-over.

The new me is still like that in a lot of ways, but she’s come a long way and doesn’t think being that way is OK anymore. The old me wanted to be thin and pretty no matter what. Not being that was like the end of the world and she would do incredibly extreme things, like purging and not eating, to maintain her appearance. Those two things didn’t even seem extreme, they were the norm.

She was worried about every little thing and didn’t worry about the big things.

She was preoccupied with looking pretty and boys and impressing people rather than her academics and her well-being. She didn’t value what she had. She threw away her health, her sanity, her academics, her opportunities in pursuit of very shallow and short-term goals.

I would still be that person if that rude awakening had not occurred.

I also never would have traveled the world, written that book, and become so close with my family (minus the one person who didn’t talk to me for months after it all happened because it freaked him out – I still am working on forgiving him).

Wish #3: For things to just be OK again

Why I want this wish:

Life is just so hard. I wish I was back in school and that I had been able to do what I had studied years for.

Working a job I hate that doesn’t benefit anyone except rich people who walk all over me is really degrading.

It doesn’t stimulate me and I don’t enjoy it. I live with constant regret and bitterness that my life turned out like this. I avoid Facebook because I don’t want to see my old classmates excelling at their jobs and relationships I was supposed to have, too, while I am remain stuck in the mud.

Why it’s GOOD I can’t have this wish magically and instantaneously:

If I could just have a great life at the snap of my fingers, I would probably still go about systematically ruining it by taking it for granted and not appreciating it.

Having a great life wouldn’t even feel that great because I had never known anything else. I would just want better and better things and never appreciate what I had.

Now, when things are good, I sincerely cherish them and don’t throw them away. At least, I try not to.

I often pause to be so grateful that I have the problems I do.

While lying in bed at my parents’ house super depressed and wishing I was dead, being where I am now would have seemed impossible.

I graduated from that amazing school. I traveled with friends all over the world. I moved to a foreign country. I thought I was never going to get my degree and that I would always have to live within a stone’s throw of my family in case something bad happened again. This level of accomplishment and independence is incredible, considering where I was.

Yes, I have a million things that I want to change.

But I also acknowledge what has changed and I am incredibly grateful for that. If ever things are “just OK” again, I will appreciate that for how amazing it is, rather than just accept it as the norm. Earning my life back myself will also make it worth so much more than if I got there by magic.

And I don’t want the life back I was “supposed” to have anymore.

I would love to have that job I studied so hard for, but maybe pursuing writing is something I should sincerely try for a while (rather than just write a “book” that I haven’t done anything with since).

I do still want a relationship with a guy who is a genuinely good person / respects me / is actually doing something with his life, but I want that as a person who is whole and doesn’t need that person to keep me from falling apart.

OK, that’s it for now.

I’m looking forward to reading about what Twenty (age 20) wishes for – that should be interesting.

(Sorry for being so condescending.)


Twenty-Three (age 23)



4 thoughts on “Magic: Why Working Hard Is Better

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