For Younger Renee
Do you ever look at a picture of yourself when you were younger and wonder how much you’ve changed in appearance and mentality? I do this so often. I’ll look at a picture of myself from when I was about 6 or 7 and think “She is SO cute!” But what’s interesting is that I’ll address the girl as “she”, not “me”. I seldom connect the dots and realize that I am the little girl in the picture. I’ll look at the photo, fully convinced that I look NOTHING like that little girl anymore. She was cute, and I’m…not. This is something I’ve struggled with for awhile, this disconnect from my child self. Up until recently, I ripped apart my body. I picked out every single flaw on my face, every soft area on my stomach, every stretch mark on my thighs.
I was treating my body like an object meant for the trash.
It wasn’t until I began seeing my new therapist that I realized how awful this was. She had me create a collage dedicated to my child self. I compiled pictures of younger Renee and the things that made up my childhood, like certain diary entries and photos of foods I used to enjoy. On the collage board, there’s an array of photos of me making silly faces, as well as pictures of Dino nuggets and Kraft mac and cheese and hand-written notes about the latest 2nd grade gossip. When I finished the collage, I looked at it and saw that this little girl was still me. This silly, fun-loving, optimistic and spunky 7-year old is still inside of me. So criticizing my 21-year old body and self is equivalent to criticizing the body and self of 7-year old Renee. This is the same body, the same self.
I still have moments where I judge my body harshly or criticize my food choices. In these moments, I know I need to get in touch with my younger self. I remind myself who I am. I look at these pictures of my younger self. And I think about how awful it would be if I told this little girl how ugly or fat she was, or if I told her NOT to eat a certain food.
I could never be so cruel to such a sweet girl, so I change my thought processing.
She is me, so I will treat US with care and love. I am recovering for her; for the little girl nicknamed “Nay-Nay”, whose ultimate goal in life is make others laugh, who isn’t stressing over how she looks, who doesn’t think about working out, and who lives life fully without a care in the world!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Renee Collett
Renee Collett lives in Hamden, Connecticut.
She is currently studying English-Professional Writing at Southern Connecticut State University.
At Project HEAL, Renee is dedicated to sharing her story and experiences throughout her recovery in order to inspire others to learn and appreciate their authentic, beautiful selves.
She is passionate about reading and writing and spreading her optimism/positivity to those around her. She can often be found outside in nature, at coffee shops, cuddling with her dog, or anywhere surrounded by people (major extrovert— she thrives in crowds of others)
Renees favorite ice cream flavor is peanut butter chunk...though she’s never met an ice cream she didn’t like.