Thursday, January 26, 2012


I’ve heard a lot of talking recently about deserving. That’s not from just one person- it’s been a mix of things posted on forums and things I’ve heard in real life. defines ‘to deserve’ as

1. to merit, be qualified for, or have a claim to (reward,assistance, punishment, etc.) because of actions, qualities, or situation.

So essentially, to have done something that means what is occurring is right, appropriate, just.

I think with eating disorders, that sense of deservingness (apparently a word) gets a bit screwed up along the line. Personally, I like to put this down to two main reasons- obviously there are many more, but here are two ones I believe play a big role:

1) Low self-esteem. If you believe you’re worthless, awful or a bad person, it’s easy to convince yourself that you deserve bad things and don’t deserve the good ones.

2) Bringing worth into matters where it shouldn’t matter. The main example here is believing that food or happiness is something that a person deserves- or does not.

I often hear phrases banded around- ‘I deserve to be miserable’, ‘I don’t deserve to eat’, ‘I deserve to suffer because of my eating disorder’. To take it back to the definition:

‘… because of actions, qualities, or situation.’

Let’s use the ‘I deserve misery’ thing. Really? Why? What horrible, horrific action is it you did that made you so vile, so evil that you deserved to be unhappy forever? I’ve told myself I deserve to be unhappy because I’m attention seeking at times.

… that’s hardly stamping on a puppy.

What’s your reasoning for why you deserve bad things? Trying to be as unbiased as possible, ask yourself ‘just what is it I’ve done that’s so bad that it makes me deserve pain or sadness?’

(For the record, I don’t think there’s anything a person can do to make them deserve either.)

You might be sighing. Going ‘oh, come on. I know I didn’t kill anyone. Maybe I don’t deserve awful things- but I just don’t really deserve good things.’

That’s point two. So let’s roll with the idea that you don’t deserve food. If we assume that’s true: why don’t you?

How exactly does a person lose their right to that? What action is it that crosses the moral event horizon to the point where you are not allowed to put food you enjoy into your mouth on a regular basis?

There are some basic things- food, water, air- that are required for life. They’re the essentials. Food is more than just fuel; of course it is. It can bring comfort or bonding or a little piece of happiness. But at the absolute baseline, it is really fuel. So how the hell can we not deserve the thing our bodies require to run on? Food is not a privilege or an accessory. It’s an essential. Not feeding your body because you ‘don’t deserve it’ is like not filling up your car because it ‘doesn’t deserve’ petrol. You can’t expect your body or that car to work if you aren’t giving them a basic requirement.

And then there’s the idea that you deserve to be in pain or suffer because you have an eating disorder. It was you who chose to restrict or binge or purge, so you chose the consequences. It’s fitting, right? The punishment matches the ‘crime’.

Except that I call bullshit on that one too. These are effects of diseases. Not petty little choices made because we got bored or wanted to fuck around with people- an eating disorder is a disease. It isn’t undefeatable or too much for you to change- not by a long shot- but it’s not your fault.

And if it wasn’t your fault, how can you deserve the punishment?

Sorry for a rambly and potentially very unhelpful post. All the same, I’d love to hear any comments- do you often fall into the ‘I don’t deserve X’ traps? Do you believe that a person can not deserve food? Or is it all just yet another way that our eating disorders try to ruin our sense of self-worth?


Jess xx

1 comment:

  1. I really appreciated this post, it definitely got to me. Generally I can't pin point something specific that I've done to deserve to feel miserable or not eat, or if I do eat to not enjoy the food. It's usually a just a feeling, a thought. I think it is definitely just another one of Ed's traps to keep us stuck.
    Everyone deserves to be able to fuel their body and their mind. They deserve the opportunities for happiness that they are granted.
    And there is nothing anyone can do to deserve to be treated in the way Ed tells us we deserve to be.


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