“You can’t love someone else until you love yourself first.”

Written by Liana Rosenman, Co-Founder of Project HEAL

3I treat my body with love, respect and the care it deserves. But, that was not always the case. For years, I disconnected from my true self, feelings and innermost authenticity. I was in an abusive relationship with a guy named Ed (eating disorder). My life was being manipulated by Ed. I was the puppet and ED performed my every move. I realized that I needed to cut the cord and after months and months of hard work, I was able to break up with Ed once and for all!

Ironically, that relationship was the best thing that ever happened to me. I gained a lot in recovery (no pun intended) and when I reflect upon the things that I have learned, I realized that it all comes back to one thing: LOVE.

One of the requirements for recovery from an eating disorder is a willingness to explore, accept, and challenge yourself.  Through my recovery journey, I have deepened my connection with my body, I have found acceptance with my emotions and feelings, and I have developed a peaceful perspective about who I am and what makes me unique.  I am still always growing, learning, and changing, and will forever be on a quest of self-discovery — and I feel like my eating disorder allowed me to be open to that challenge. With that begin said, I don’t think of relationships as one that joins two halves together to make a whole. Rather, I see it as two wholes becoming an even greater whole—two individuals who love each other enough to respect the other’s independence and uniqueness.

The old “put on your own oxygen mask before helping someone else” cliche is so overused, but alas, it applies here so I’m going to use it. You have to take care of yourself first in order to be a good partner, a compassionate friend, a good listener, and a whole and happy human being. I needed to fully accept that I deserved a happy, full life. Similarly, I realized that I deserve love, respect and to have my needs met. I will ALWAYS honor myself by refusing to settle for anything less than I deserve.

When I let go of the hate, I got to see who I really was. I will always stay true to the real person I am, because I love that person and someday I will be with someone who loves her too.