Be kind… For everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.
My mom’s ongoing words my entire upbringing were, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” I never truly appreciated or understood the consequences words may have on someone until I battled and overcame anorexia.
She played for Indiana University. She had matched up against me each time we had played, and this particular time was no different. I would like to give her the benefit of the doubt, and believe she was a nice person who just used the wrong language to talk smack. But, the reality was, she insulted the wrong person at the wrong time.
I had returned to the 2004 fall season with a new attitude, new look, and new perspective. Aware that I had put on excess weight while fighting to recover from anorexia, I felt strong, fit, and confident– a complete transformation from the prior year. However, she did not know the battle, struggle, and complete trauma I had just endured. Though I had made major strides, I was still working every minute to conquer an eating disorder revolving around weight and body image. The process of recovery was ongoing and extremely tedious.
Minutes into the half, she began trash-talking me. “What, your coaches couldn’t get you a pair of shorts that actually fit you?” were the words she muttered soft enough so no one else heard, but loud enough to ensure I did. Holding back tears, I smiled at her and laughed, pretending to ignore her harsh, yet naive comment. My dark green shorts that had fallen off of me the season before had then tightly gripped my legs. Trust me, I worried about my leg circulation, too. But, I didn’t need her making an offensive comment to provoke feelings of mortification during such a sensitive time.
I realize she was simply attempting to get under her opponents skin during a highly intense game. However, she struck a chord that could have easily redeveloped past thoughts and behaviors. More than anything, it hurt me, deeply. My friends and I were able to laugh about it that night at dinner, but joking about it was only a defense mechanism.
I changed as a person from experiencing such a disorder. I found a new appreciation for my family and friends who stood by me no matter how thin I was, how depressed I acted, and how obsessed I had become with food and exercise. My eyes opened and I came to the realization many others were also struggling to fight through a crisis. Though I may never know the issue, my words may forever influence one’s mindset.
As a result of having an eating disorder, I have made a conscious effort to value and respect each individual I meet, and eagerly attempt to learn many stories along the way. If nothing else, I strive to be kind, a disposition that may have been a shortcoming in my teenage years.
I really do try to live by these words: Be kind, for you never know what battle a person is fighting.
And, my coaches proudly ordered not only new size shorts for me, but brand new uniforms for my final senior season.