I got the philanthropy bug at 14-years-old after organizing a carwash for a little girl in my community that was battling leukemia. Her name is Tori, my name is Tory—I felt an obligation to help out my soulsister even though it wasn’t that simple in my high school brain. Nothing feels simple in a high school brain.
I was an overachieving teen. I strived for perfect grades, I danced for an elite performing company, I was president of student council. Experiencing the love and appreciation of Tori and her family was another validation to add to my list, another way to feel like I had a purpose in this massive world.
I couldn’t stop volunteering. I couldn’t get away from children and their ability to live freely and lovingly. It was only when in the presence of children that I too could live freely and lovingly because despite the happy, productive and confident façade, I hid a nasty secret. At the time, the secret was I had an eating disorder. Now, I realize the secret was I hated myself, I had low self-esteem, and I lacked self-respect.
You see, self-mutilation, addiction and eating disorders are not the cause of destruction. They aren’t even the catalyst for destruction. The vague but massive feelings I described before-- self-hatred, low self-esteem, lack of self-respect—THOSE are the catalyst and cause for destruction. Because it’s difficult to process these heavy emotions, we look to create something tangible to process instead. I couldn’t communicate with my self-hatred, but vomiting in the high school toilet in between classes sufficed. My painful, empty stomach gave me a physical pain to focus on, to control, instead of trying to understand why I felt so worthless. Hating the fat on my inner thighs was easier to comprehend then hating myself for unknown reasons.
So I volunteered. And for a long time the love and appreciation I received compensated for love and appreciation I refused to give to myself. There are infinite amounts of people in need and I could help some, get the love, then move on to new ones. I even started to downplay my food obsession, justifying that if I was a ‘wonderful person’ with all of this philanthropy then surely it’s acceptable to have a tiny problem.
Once people start loving you, you have to face your inherent loveliness. Unconditional love has this magical ability to hold a mirror to your face and reflect back the brightest, most beautiful parts of yourself. But if I started to emulate the respect friends and boyfriends were showing me, I couldn’t maintain the restricting, hating and judging. Unconditional love is having a heart so full that there’s no room for fear. Fear and hatred were my comfort; I couldn’t give them up yet.
I was fortunate enough to have been loved unconditionally numerous times by friends and boyfriends. I was stupid (read: broken) enough to sabotage every relationship in hopes that they’d go away and I could continue living safely in my fear.
In my fear but also in my service to others less fortunate! So it was totally OK.
January of 2013 I was dumped by a man I worshipped. There were numerous issues, one being I was worshipping. I was certain I was going to marry this person, so I put all my focus on making sure he was perfect, stable, and happy as to be my savior, ah hem, I mean husband. Hint, no one wants to be worshipped. We want to be loved, respected, valued, and to feel connection—not put high on a pedestal and critiqued.
In my crumpled-on-the-floor, wailing despair, I heard a little voice inside myself say, ‘Hey Tor, if there’s ever been a time to repair yourself, this would be it.’
So I learned how to meditate. At first it was my overachieving ‘being proactive’ source of comfort, but soon it became the first facilitation of actually conversing with myself. And once you get to know yourself, you can’t allow your bullshit to linger anymore.
Fast forward. Without dragging this novella on for many more pages, the massive epiphany was that I hadn’t ever felt true service to others. Once I was actually filled with love for myself, THEN I had love to give to others. And shit, THIS kind of service is out of this world. Like, orgasmic times infinity, heart and brain exploding shards of chocolate kind of feels.
Secondly, I have a new idea to add to why you ‘need to get healthy.’ Your doctor, friends, co-workers, family, and the media are going to tell you it’s because junky food and junky eating habits will make you fat and sick. (They are somewhat right, PS.) But I want to tell you that your obsessing, worrying, validating, shaming, hating and fluctuating are causing much more damage. They’re distracting you from showing up in the world as your best self. Any second you’re NOT spending on loving the shit out of yourself, your family and your friends is a big ol’ time suck. Any energy you’re wasting on worrying about those cookies you ate could be instead utilized to make your wildest (but totally plausible, have you met you?) dreams come to fruition.
I have so much love in me right now that I can honestly say I love YOU just because you’re perusing Hotchickpea in search of healing or inspiration. But, it won’t matter until YOU love you.
May your heart be so full of love that there’s no room for fear.